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Apology Letter Format, Tips & Samples | Write a Perfect Apology9 min read

December 21, 2019 6 min read
apology letter

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Apology Letter Format, Tips & Samples | Write a Perfect Apology9 min read

Read­ing Time: 6 min­utes

Mis­takes are a part of life, and every human is enti­tled to make mis­takes in their life. But some­times, when you make a mis­take, it can prove to be dam­ag­ing. Par­tic­u­lar­ly, if you make a mis­take in your work­place, you can cause harm to your rep­u­ta­tion, and worse, your job too. So the best advice is that you should always accept and apol­o­gize for the mis­take that you have made, instead of run­ning away from it. And the best way to apol­o­gize to a work­place is to write an apol­o­gy let­ter for­mat.

Always take up the path of hon­esty, don’t try to hide your mis­takes. Acknowl­edge the wrong that you did and think of how to apol­o­gize for it. The soon­er, the bet­ter. Always be hon­est in your apol­o­gy and do not just say sor­ry for the sake of it. Be sor­ry because you feel so, and then decide the medi­um of apol­o­gy. You can always apol­o­gize ver­bal­ly, but an apol­o­gy let­ter is always prefer­able since it is a for­mal medium. 

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A for­mal apol­o­gy let­ter is not just about the words that you choose to write. It is also the for­mat of an apol­o­gy let­ter that makes it for­mal, one appro­pri­ate for apol­o­giz­ing in office premis­es. The apol­o­gy let­ter should always be on point, no exag­ger­a­tions and you should always make sure to check twice for any gram­mat­i­cal errors. An apol­o­gy let­ter should show that you are respon­si­ble and can be trust­ed. If you use the right words, the mis­take is sure to heal and not come in between your way of work. 

An apol­o­gy let­ter will not show that you are weak or less­er than any­one. If you choose the right words and fol­low the for­mat of an apol­o­gy let­ter, the let­ter will all be about you respect­ing the recip­i­ent of the apol­o­gy let­ter and vice ver­sa. Yes, it can be dif­fi­cult to apol­o­gize since no one has the habit of apol­o­giz­ing and we think it would cre­ate a bad impact on our char­ac­ter if we accept that we made a mis­take. But just face the truth, mak­ing a mis­take and run­ning away by not accept­ing it is even worse. 

Before we elab­o­rate on the apol­o­gy let­ter for­mat, let us have an overview of the ele­ments that should essen­tial­ly be a part of an apol­o­gy letter.

Elements of an Apology Letter:

  • Be sor­ry, with­out any excuse for your mistake.
  • Show the recip­i­ent that you are will­ing to accept the mis­take that you made.
  • Be descrip­tive about your mis­take. You should be clear about the fact that you know what your fault is and you under­stand the wrong done. This way the recip­i­ent would feel that you are gen­uine­ly con­cerned about the harm that your mis­take has caused. 
  • Make the per­son aware of how you plan to fix the sit­u­a­tion. Give a prop­er expla­na­tion in your apol­o­gy let­ter. This will calm down the oth­er per­son when they will notice that you are actu­al­ly try­ing to make things fine again.
  • Give your word that you won’t repeat the mis­take and ensure that you shall always be at your best behav­ior. A healthy pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship will only be pos­si­ble if you give your word that you would avoid repeat­ing the mis­take in the near future. 
  • Make it clear that you do regret what all hap­pened and ask for for­give­ness. If you ask for for­give­ness, it shows that you do have the inten­tion of mak­ing things fine. 
  • Ask the recip­i­ent to accept your apol­o­gy duly. 
  • Let the let­ter only be about the apol­o­gy. Do not add unnec­es­sary state­ments. Make it a for­mal let­ter, and be to the point, so that it fits in the apol­o­gy let­ter for­mat.

What all to keep in mind, before starting with the format of an apology letter:

  • Mean what you say. Apol­o­giz­ing and not mean­ing a word you say will only have an adverse effect. It will make the recip­i­ent think that you are giv­ing a false apol­o­gy. If you are not sin­cere with your words, chances are that you can end up in a place that would be worse than your ini­tial position.
  • Know your exact posi­tion when you write the let­ter. Think of your colleague/manager’s posi­tion about how they must have been affect­ed by your actions on a per­son­al as well as pro­fes­sion­al lev­el. If you do this, you are sure to write the most gen­uine apology.
  • Do not try to jus­ti­fy your actions with excus­es. And nev­er try to blame it on anoth­er per­son, dodg­ing away from the mis­take your­self. If you are unable to jus­ti­fy, then just don’t. Giv­ing no rea­son at all is always bet­ter than giv­ing a false reason. 
  • You made a mis­take, you should apol­o­gize. But do not sit and back and keep on dwelling at the mis­take. Do not bring the apol­o­gy let­ter to a point where it feels that you are dwelling on your mistake. 

How To Structure Before Starting With The Apology Letter Format:

  • Sender’s Address: The top­most detail in the apol­o­gy let­ter should be the address of the writer of the let­ter, writ­ten on the left-hand cor­ner of the page. 
  • Date: Until and unless it’s an e‑mail, the date should be writ­ten just below the address of the letterhead. 
  • Sub­ject: Since it’s an apol­o­gy let­ter, not much think­ing is required for writ­ing the sub­ject. A sim­ple “apol­o­gy let­ter” is suf­fi­cient to describe what the let­ter is going to be about.
  • On Arrival Notice: This step is not com­pul­so­ry though. You can always add an On-arrival notice if you want one, and let it be if you do not need one. But because it is an apol­o­gy let­ter and may con­tain some sen­si­tive con­tent, it is advis­able to put the notice so that the apol­o­gy let­ter does not fall in the wrong hands.
  • Salu­ta­tion: Now, since the let­ter is a per­son­al apol­o­gy let­ter, even if your rela­tion­ship with the recip­i­ent is the first-name rela­tion­ship, it is prop­er to address them as “Dear Susan” or “Dear Ashley”.
  • The First Para­graph: Start your let­ter with your apol­o­gy itself. 
  • Body: After apol­o­giz­ing, explain and jus­ti­fy your mis­take. Acknowl­edge the wrong that you did and take responsibility.
  • End­ing Para­graph: Ensure that you won’t repeat the mis­take in the future and be at your best pos­si­ble behav­ior inside the premises. 
  • Last Words: Before sign­ing off, offer anoth­er apol­o­gy genuinely.
  • Name And Sig­na­ture: Fin­ish the let­ter like any oth­er for­mal let­ter. Men­tion your name, your sig­na­tures and your con­tact infor­ma­tion. And that is how you should struc­ture the apol­o­gy let­ter for­mat.

Also, click here to learn how to write a pro­fes­sion­al email.

Samples of An Apology Letter:

SAMPLE 1: Apol­o­giz­ing for absence from an impor­tant event

G‑09/765, Tilak Nagar
New Del­hi

Date: 05th June 2019

Sub­ject: Apol­o­gy Letter

Dear Anna,

I am sor­ry for my absence from the meet­ing that was held by you this morn­ing. Also, I am aware of the neg­a­tive effect that my absence must have caused on our team’s name. I regret the absence all the more because I was sup­posed to give a pre­sen­ta­tion at the meet­ing. I am sor­ry for let­ting you and the team down. 

As a respon­si­ble employ­ee, I take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for my absence and not being able to inform you about the same on time. My daugh­ter has not been keep­ing well for three days now. I had to urgent­ly take her to the hos­pi­tal today. Her body tem­per­a­ture was increas­ing at a very fast pace. My hus­band has been trav­el­ing since the past week due to work. There­fore, I could not have asked any­one to do the same either. 

In an attempt to make the sit­u­a­tion a lit­tle bet­ter, I have mailed my pre­sen­ta­tion to every­one on the team. I hope that each one of them will go through it once. I have even sent in an expla­na­tion to every­one regard­ing my absence. Please let me know if there is any­thing else that I can do. I gen­uine­ly want to make up for the loss of time and loss of oppor­tu­ni­ty that was giv­en to me. 

Sin­cere­ly,
Siera

SAMPLE 2: Apol­o­gy for dis­play­ing unac­cept­able behavior

144/20, 3rd floor,
Kir­ti Palace,
Ban­ga­lore

Date: 15th August 2018

Sub­ject: Apol­o­gy Letter

Dear Raj,

Please accept my sin­cere apol­o­gy for the kind of behav­ior I exhib­it­ed this morn­ing. It was not right on my part to not give you a chance to explain. You must have thor­ough­ly thought before mak­ing changes in my team’s project at the last minute. I accept that I assumed things on my own and that was inappropriate.

It is only after you explained to me in detail that I real­ized how absurd­ly I had react­ed. The effect of the addi­tion of a new mem­ber would actu­al­ly yield pos­i­tive results. I react­ed unrea­son­ably and lost my tem­per in the heat of the moment. But I under­stand that there is no appro­pri­ate expla­na­tion for the way I behaved. Hence, I want to con­vey to you that I deeply regret my actions.

I hope this let­ter man­i­fests my will to make amends for my mis­take. It would be real­ly appre­cia­ble if you could accept my apol­o­gy and give me anoth­er chance. I assure you that I regret my com­ments and I shall sup­port you com­plet­ing the team project henceforth.

Sin­cere­ly,
Aparna

SAMPLE 3: Apol­o­gy to a client or customer

ABC Com­pa­ny,
Mum­bai, Maharashtra

Date: 30th Jan­u­ary 2017

Sub­ject: Apol­o­gy Letter

Dear Mr. Medina,

I would here­by like to sin­cere­ly apol­o­gize to you on behalf of ABC Com­pa­ny. We are sor­ry to hear about your dis­sat­is­fac­tion and unhap­pi­ness with our com­pa­ny. We gen­uine­ly regret the delay in the ser­vices that are offered to you by the soft­ware devel­op­ment team. The team should have kept the dead­line in mind while plan­ning the work. 

We under­stand that it would have been infu­ri­at­ing for you to be answer­able to your team because of the delay. At ABC, it is our main agen­da to com­plete the giv­en projects in due time. And we have here­by made the guide­lines more strict for the dead­line of a project. We assure you that there will be no sec­ond time for such an unpro­fes­sion­al occurrence. 

The com­pa­ny wants to assure that you shall nev­er again be giv­en a chance to regret being affil­i­at­ed with our ser­vices. You are our esteemed client and we would be grate­ful to have a sec­ond chance to work for you. Please con­sid­er our apology.

Kind Regards,
Richard Smith, Manager

Sumedha is a Post Graduate in English. She has the penchant for creating a variety of content that is attention grabbing.