How To Write An Apology Letter?

How to Write An Apology Letter

 Guide to Write An Apology Letter: Introduction, choosing the tone, Writing the letter, Subject line, Salutation, Introduction, Body, Conclusion

Introduction:

  1. Letters are an important means of communication, ever since as early as 500 BC, letters have been used to relay messages from one person to the other. While runners were used before, the means of messaging have evolved since then. What once started as runners running to and fro delivering messages and relaying orders from noblemen or kings and queens then evolved into using birds such as pigeons to send mail and has now evolved into the efficient monster we see and witness each day of our lives. It is now possible to send letters from one corner of the world to the other and expect a response within less than a week. Speed post and one-day delivery options have made mail very useful and kept sending letters relevant in today’s fast-paced world. While email addresses may have replaced real-life addresses, letters still play an important role in communication.

  2. A handwritten letter nowadays carries much more sentimental and emotional value than what it carried before the invention of email, which enabled people to converse with each other formally and informally with extreme ease and no delay between the communication being sent and it being received by the recipient. However, letter writing skills remain a vital part of English writing skills one must master to enable the writer to communicate with whoever necessary using the right tone and salutations. Formal letters carry a lot of weight and can start a mature and to-the-point conversation with the recipient and can be used to make requests, address grievances, and apologize for situations that might have been caused by the writer, making it the writer’s fault. Here is how to write a letter apologizing to the principal of your school or college.

Choosing the Tone:

The very first thing you must consider when writing a letter is the tone of the letter itself. There are two types of letters you can write according to the tone you want to convey yourself, formal letters and informal letters. The tone of the letter also depends on the relation of the writer to the recipient. If the writer is on a first-name basis with the recipient and has a good relationship with them, then the tone can be more informal, but if the writer barley knows the recipient or if the recipient is someone in the professional world and has a higher post than you then the tone has to be formal since you wish to convey your point while still being respectful of the chain of command or the hierarchy. 

Formal Letters: 

Formal letters are usually used when writing to government officials or any organization to talk about grievances or suggest changes to a certain system or way of doing things. A formal letter is used when the writer is not really on a first-name basis with the recipient or when the writer wishes to write to someone of higher stature than the writer commanding respect. Formal letters are also used when writing to a boss or anyone in a professional capacity. When talking about business or creating a first impression on a potential client, the writer cannot afford to be casual and relaxed in their writing style. The letter needs to be concise, precise, and respectful at the same time. This does not mean just pandering to the recipient but actually getting your point across or making your problems known while not coming across as preachy or unprofessional. Some examples of whom formal letters can be written to are A school Principal, Teachers, Boss, The municipal body, your local representative, co-workers, or even parents.

Informal Letters:

Informal letters are exactly the opposite of formal letters. These letters are more casual and usually written to people close to the writer and have a good relationship. Informal letters can be longer and more descriptive in detail. An informal letter can be written to friends, your significant other, your parents, relatives, even coworkers you are close to, old friends from school and college, and even fellow parents if they are in the same social circle as you. 

Format to Write An Apology Letter

Looking at the two types and definitions of letters and how they can be written, you need to figure out what type of letter you need to write based on the intended recipient and the type of letter you need to write. Since this is a letter apologizing to the principal, this letter will be a formal one. In any case, a letter needs to start with the senders and the receiver’s address. The sender’s address is required so that first and foremost, the recipient can read who the letter is from without opening the letter itself, and if the letter cannot be sent for some reason, it will be returned to the sender by the post office. This can happen due to entering the recipient’s wrong address, failing to put postal stamps, or not paying extra postage if your letter exceeds the USPS automated mail sorting system’s dimensions. This is why getting the addresses right is crucial and is the first part of writing a letter. If this part is done incorrectly, your letter will never reach the recipient in the first place, making a point of writing the letter useless. Here is an example showing you how to write the senders and the receiver’s address.

Aman Shah,

601, XYZ Building,

Street Name,

City, State/Province – Postal Code.

[email protected] (or phone no.)

14th January 2021.

To,

The Principal,

St. Peters High School,

Street Name

City, State/Province – Postal Code

[email protected]

As you can see in the above example, the senders’ address is mentioned first and is written on the top left. The sender’s address must start with the name of the sender, followed by the building name. Next in the address is the street name, followed by the city and state the sender is in. The postal code must be included as well. While writing the sender’s address, you must also mention some contact details such as an email id or phone number. The date makes up the last line of the address. The date must be the date on which the letter was written. Next comes the receiver’s address. Since the recipient, in our case, is the principal of the school, he might not be directly addressable by name. When it comes to writing formal letters to dignitaries or people holding high posts in the organization you are writing to, these people can be addressed by their title itself, such as the president or the dean or, in our case, the principal. Therefore the recipient’s address must start with a ‘To’ followed by a comma. The next line mentions the post of the person, which in our case is the principal. The rest of the address is similar, stating the schools’ name and the street in the following line. The next line is also in a similar format as it mentions the city, state, and postal code. The last line contains some contact details of the school itself. There is no need to include a date since it has already been mentioned once in the senders’ address.

Subject Line:

After writing the address, the subject line must be mentioned. This subject line must explain the letter’s reason and summarize the situation in no more than one sentence. The subject line is supposed to be short and to the point, clearly explaining the core reason for writing a letter. A formal letter is not supposed to beat around the bush and must be short and sweet, staying to the point and mentioning all relevant facts. A formal letter is not supposed to beat around the bush and ask the person about their health and well-being, which would most certainly be done if the letter was informal. Some examples of subject lines are:

  • If you are writing to ask for help with maintenance of the building to the society chairman:  Subject: Requesting assistance with society maintenance.
  • If you are writing to complain regarding students bullying your child to the headmaster of a school: Subject: Complaint regarding regular school bullying.
  • If you are writing to apologize for your child misbehaving in school: Subject: Apologizing for my child and his behaviour in school.
  • If you are writing to apologise for cheating to the principal: Subject: Apologising for cheating in the exams.

In the above examples, you can see how, while the subject line may change from one topic to the next, the subject line is always short and to the point. Elaborating and getting into detail happens in the letter. The point of a formal letter is to cut straight to the chase and avoid beating around the bush, and the subject line stays true to this method of writing a formal letter, mentioning the problem in one line as the subject. Let’s take our example of a student writing to the principal of his school apologizing for cheating on his exams. In that case, the subject line reads “Apologising for cheating in the exams” This lets the reader know just at a single glance that in the following letter, the student wishes to apologize to the principal for his misconduct during the exams was caught cheating.

Salutations:

The subject line is then followed by a salutation, addressing the recipient and the reader, which helps grab their attention and lets the reader know that the message has started and directed to them. The salutation is also a means to show respect to someone older than you or to address someone of a similar age group in a not very informative capacity but is not very formal. If you do not know a person well, it is always good to use the Respected XYZ salutation. The salutation is followed by a comma, leading the reader to the beginning of the letter. Some examples of salutations are:

  • Dear Sir,
  • Respected Sir,
  • Dear Ma’am,
  • Respected Ma’am,
  • Dear Mr. Kreese,

In these examples, you can see that it is okay to use dear followed by either sir or madam if you are of a similar age group to the recipient. If you have met the recipient and know them but still have to write a letter requesting something from them, complaining about something to them, or apologizing to them for some reason, you can use dear followed by their name, but instead of using their first name you must use their last name preceded by either Mr, Ms or Mrs. This ensures that while it shows your familiarity with that person, you don’t make the letter too informal by using their first name as well. Using dear to address them brings in some informality but using their last name with their preceding prefix makes sure to balance it out, keeping the letter formal while still letting the reader know that the writer considers them a close aide. Respected is the best salutation to use when you do not know the recipient or have never met them or if the recipient is older than yourself. 

Introduction:

In introducing the letter, you must introduce yourself and how you are related to the receiver. This relation may be that of a tenant in a society, or a student at school or in our case, let’s assume the writer is a student who was caught cheating during the exams at school and is now writing a letter to the principal apologizing for the same. In this scenario, the subject line would be “Subject: Apologising for cheating during the exams,” followed by the salutation. Since, in this case, the receiver is way older than the sender, who is just a student, while the receiver is the principal of the school, using Respected as a salutation is a must. The introduction then starts where the writer must first identify himself as a student of that school and then get to the subject matter and mention why he is writing the letter to the principal. The introduction must be short and not exceed more than 5-6 lines. A sample introduction for our situation from the students’ point of view is as follows:

Subject: Apologising for Cheating

Respected Sir,

                     My name is Aman Shah, and I am a second-year student here at St. Peters Middle School. I am writing this letter to apologize to you for cheating on the exams that last week. I am well aware of the no-tolerance policy and would like you to consider my case being a newly transferred student who did not get much help to catch up with the others before the exams started.

In the example above, you can see how the introduction starts with the student introducing himself with his name and class. The introduction then goes onto the subject matter and, in one sentence, explains the purpose of writing the letter. The student also mentions his awareness regarding the school rules and urges the principal to consider his case letting the reader, who in this case is the principal, know that he is well aware of the rules and some unforeseen reasons must be playing a role in his misconduct that resulted in him getting caught for cheating.

Body:

  The next part of the letter is the body of the letter. The body is the longest part of the letter and can be twice the size of the introduction. The body of the letter is the main part where the main content is written. The letter’s body is used to elaborate on a problem and speak on it in more detail. It is also used to express grievances and, in our case, accept responsibility. The body can be significantly bigger than the introduction, but it is important not to make the letter extra-long and stray away from the point. The body, no matter how long, must always stay to the point. The letter’s body is the most important as it is used to talk about problems, give advice, make proposals for solutions, take responsibility for actions, and apologize. An example of the body of the letter continuing with the subject of the student apologizing to the principal for cheating is:

Subject: Apologising for Cheating

Respected Sir,

                     My name is Aman Shah, and I am a second-year student here at St. Peters Middle School. I am writing this letter to apologize to you for cheating on the exams that last week. I am well aware of the no-tolerance policy and would like you to consider my case being a newly transferred student who did not get much help to catch up with the others before the exams started.

I was recently transferred to St.Peters from another school. Since the school I was in before coming here was a public school, I had a hard time studying and keeping up with the teachers and the quality of work expected at St.Peters. While the teachers were always helpful and asking me if I had any questions, I had so many that I didn’t even know where to start. Especially when it came to mathematics. I have not always been the strongest at mathematics and have always needed to work to learn the same. Back at my old school, I had friends who could help me through this by teaching me in their spare time. I had just moved to this school with no more than a week left for the first round of exams. That, combined with the extensive syllabus, made me anxious, so I decided to carry a cheat sheet for the mathematics exams containing the formulas I thought were important. What I did was completely reckless and against the schools’ rules of conduct. I should have just gone to a professor and made my fears known, but I got in my own head in the limited time before the exams and convinced myself to do so. I am terribly sorry for causing trouble within my first month here. Still, I really wished to do well at this school and was afraid to approach teachers and tell them I was unfamiliar with almost half the syllabus no more than 5 days away from the exam week. Since then, I have started staying back after school and am taking special tuition from a friend in my class who aced the exams and is well-versed with the mathematics syllabus. I also spoke to Miss Goldfinch regarding my exam, and she agreed to me writing a test under strict supervision, given the situation I was in. I wish to assure you that I am better than a cheat, which will never happen again. 

In the next part of the letter, the body is the most important of all. In the example given above, the writer starts by letting the principal know about his situation, which in this case, he had transferred from a public school no more than a week before the exams themselves. Ass the writer explains, combined with his weak mathematics skills and more rigorous and competitive syllabus, he’s really left the writer stranded, making him feel anxious. The writer then claims responsibility for his actions, stating that he made a conscious decision to cheat instead of seeking help from his teachers due to the circumstances. He then goes on to mention some steps he has taken to try and fix the problem, which included actually getting extra tuition from a new friend from class and also talking about the problem to the teacher involved in hopes of coming up with a solution which in this case is a retest with supervision.

Conclusion | Write An Apology Letter

The last part of the letter is the conclusion. The writer concludes the letter by stating the subject matter once more, followed by a line hoping to hear back from them and hear their thoughts. The conclusion is followed by an end salutation, which states the writer’s name. When writing informal letters, various salutations can be used, but when it comes to formal letters, the salutation must be formal. Using salutations such as Sincerely Yours or Respectfully Yours, show respect for the reader and courteously end the letter. An example of a conclusion when apologizing to the principal for apologizing is:

Subject: Apologising for Cheating

Respected Sir,

                     My name is Aman Shah and I am a second year student here at St. Peters Middle School. I am writing this letter to apologise to you for cheating in the exams that got over this past week. I am well aware of the no tolerance policy and would like you to consider my case being a newly transferred student who did not get much help in order to catch up with the others before the exams started.

I was recently transferred to St.Peters from another school. Since the school I was in before coming here was a public school I had a hard time studying and keeping up with the teachers and the quality of work expected at St.Peters. While the teachers were always helpful and asking me if I had any questions, I had so many that I didn’t even know where to start. Especially when it came to mathematics. I have not always been the strongest at mathematics and have always needed to put in extra work to learn the same. Back at my old school while I had friends who could help me through this by teaching me in their spare time. I had just moved to this school with no more than a week left for the first round of exams. That combined with the extensive syllabus made me anxious and so i decided to carry a cheat sheet for the mathematics exams containing the formulas which i thought were important. What I did was completely reckless and against the schools rules of conduct. I should have just gone to a professor and made my fears known but in the limited time before the exams I got in my own head and convinced myself to do so. I am terribly sorry for causing trouble within my first month here but I really wished to do well at this school and was afraid to approach teachers and tell them I was unfamiliar with almost half the syllabus no more than 5 days away from the exam week itself. I have since then started staying back after school and am taking special tuition from a friend in my class who aced the exams and is well versed with the mathematics syllabus. I also spoke to Miss Goldfinch regarding my exam and she agreed to me writing a test under strict supervision given the situation I was in. I wish to assure you that I am better than a cheat and this will never happen again. 

Once again I would like to stress on the fact that this was a one time error in judgement on my part and I do not wish to be called a cheater. I would really like you to consider my case and approve my retest as Miss Goldfinch suggested. I promise to work hard and do my best to compete at this school with honesty and integrity. Once again I am really sorry and I look forward to hearing from you with regards to what can be done about this situation and the proposed retest by my mathematics teacher. Thank you for taking out the time to read this. Looking forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Aman Shah

In the above sample you can see how the last paragraph or the conclusion begins with the writer once again accepting responsibility letting the reader know her truly feels bad and guilty for cheating on the exam. He then also mentions his efforts to correct things as he talks about a retest that his math teacher suggested on hearing his problem and seeks approval for the same from the principal. The letter then ends by the writer saying that he looks forward to hearing from the principal which is followed by a salutation ‘Your Sincerely’ which shows that the writer is sincere about writing this letter and means to stand by his written word. The last part of the letter is signing of the name where the writer signs his name so that the receiver knows that the letter actually is from the student himself.

This concludes the guide on writing a formal apology letter to a principal, apologising for cheating in an exam. While the example used here is specific this same format can be applied to any formal letter since the format and the requirements would be the same only the content would change.

also read: How to Say Sorry Without Saying Sorry?

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