Apology Letter: What Is It?

Apology letters are pretty self-explanatory—these are documents where you write and express your most heartfelt sorry about a particular mistake or any wrong matter. Besides a personal sworn statement of apology, a formal apology letter is crucial to ensure you write every correct detail in the most sincere manner and avoid being misconstrued. And with the tough cancel culture nowadays, people and businesses have to be very careful with their statements in an apology to be given a chance to change and correct matters.

According to research, 44% of Americans have at least heard about the term ‘cancel culture‘ as of September 2020.

Also, Small Business Trends reported that businesses may need to apologize for bad customer service, insufficient or damaged products, improper handling or late shipping of products, scheduling problems or cancellation reports, financial issues, incorrect employee actions, bad behavior, and missed deadlines.

Why Is an Apology Letter Important?

Apology letters are essential when there is an ongoing issue, inconvenience, or error to say sorry for. This practice is a much better alternative than staying silent and acting guilty. Also, the detailed letter can point out what the issue was, how to fix it, and what the person who apologized learned from the experience. So when recipients get to read your sincere statement of apology, they would understand your sentiments properly—that is, if written well.

Also, apology letters help you fight against liabilities, controversies, and most especially, the cancel culture. According to the Pew Research Center’s research survey, 44% of Americans have heard already about cancel culture as of September 2020. And this is where a certain person calls out about someone or an organization’s mistake by posting it online and it will get trending. Thus, the person or brand being called out will be considered ‘canceled.’ At least having a detailed apology gives a chance for people on social media to reconsider forgiving the ones that were called out rather than adding fuel to the fire.

What Are the Parts of a Standard Apology Letter?

An apology letter isn’t that hard to make when you familiarize its usual structure. Just like when you write any formal letter, there is a structure or format worth observing. And these are the important parts of a basic apology letter:

Title or Subject: Ensure that you set a proper introductory statement from the title of the letter and what its subject is. Also, the words ‘apology letter’ must be visible in the title so anyone who checks that document will automatically know its purpose.The Addresser and the Addressee’s Details: The addresser refers to the one writing the apology letter and the addressee is the recipient of that letter. And it is necessary to write both of their details from the name, address, and other necessary contact lists. This part confirms the from who and to whom the letter is for.Salutation: The salutation marks the beginning of your heartfelt message and it only makes sense to start with a warm greeting. And don’t forget to mention the addressee’s name to fully address to whom it may concern.Statement of Apology: Ensure that you have an official statement of apology since you can’t just ask forgiveness without being actually sorry. For personal letters, it is okay to be as creative and thoughtful with your words but business letters must be taken into consideration seriously.What Went Wrong: Indeed, the intention of the apology letter is to state your apology. But what for? Write a detailed background statement about what actually went wrong and how that occurred. This part is crucial because maybe you addressed the wrong issue yet it wasn’t actually the case. Specifying the problem helps prevent any misunderstanding.Acknowledgment of Responsibility: Others may begin with, “I am sorry that you were offended…” If you admit that you were wrong, then you have to acknowledge that in the letter too. Even in a formal business letter, adding an acknowledgment of responsibility to the apology is also a way of showing how mature and professional you are as a manager or employee or a company.Offer of Repair: The damage has been done. So what’s next? The next step is to write your offer of repair. This is where you state your solution on how to fix the issue. For example, a customer complained about an employee’s improper behavior. The appropriate solution would be to sanction that employee and prepare an employee training proposal so everyone will be properly trained, including behavior management at work.Complimentary Close and Signature: Once you have stated what you need to say for the apology letter, don’t forget the closing statement. This is where you end with a complimentary close followed by your name and signature. That is if you are the one writing the letter.

The Two Types of Apology Letters

It is known that apology letters come of two types—professional apology letters and personal apology letters. So what is the difference between the two? Here is a more detailed explanation of the two types of apology letters:

Professional Apology Letters

A professional apology letter is commonly used in the corporate or business world. An apology may be needed because of a company’s poor services, defective products, bad customer services, and other operations. And in apologizing, you can’t just attack your recipient personally because you have to be professional at all costs. Otherwise, your messages might be regarded as a threat and could end up in court. Statements here should focus on how to fix the issue since one’s professional reputation is on the line here.

Personal Apology Letters

Meanwhile, a personal apology letter is simply when you need to say sorry to someone whom you have hurt out of love, friendship, and other personal reasons. In this case, you can talk about personal matters and talk about how much you love the person or any other way. Also, there is no need for a strict format and structure in making personal letters.

How to Create an Apology Letter

From losing count of one’s absence, being late at submitting projects, down to losing a big amount of money—there are just so many possibilities of why you need to apologize. And if you learned from your mistake and remain genuinely sorry, be sure you know how to make a solid apology letter too. In fact, you only need these steps to ace it:

Step 1: Assess the Whole Situation First

First things first, what was the issue and how did it happen? Prepare an assessment checklist to ensure you can fully scrutinize the situation. The problem with making an apology letter right away without fully knowing the entire situation is you could have misinterpreted the incident and maybe fail to point out the crux of the matter. In doing so, record the subject matter, the problem, how to fix them, and other points worth adding to your letter later on.

Step 2: Select a Sample Apology Letter

Once you are fully aware of the drama or event, download from the list of sample apology letters listed above this article. Simply pick your favored template and you can slowly work your way towards completing the apology letter. Thus, you won’t need to begin from scratch with a blank document. Don’t forget that each sample is professionally made so they are decent options when you need to follow the best structure of these letters. Also, you can personalize them afterward so there is room for alterations.

Step 3: Complete the Apology Letter’s Basic Parts

Speaking of completing your apology letter, don’t forget the basic parts of an apology letter, which was discussed earlier. Ensure that you got everything covered from the title or subject down to the complimentary close and signature. Also, finalize what type of apology letter you are making if it is a professional or personal one. Completing these parts already makes a solid apology. And for every detail written, verification is crucial so the output is error-free.

Step 4: Observe Sincerity and Honesty with Your Words

The challenge in writing a letter is people can’t tell your expression in saying sorry. Hence, check the tone, sincerity, honesty, and language of your words. A deadpan message would not be considered a genuine apology. The key is to really reread what you wrote and check for possible improvements. Refine your message as well if you can’t seem to put a clear and sincere message. Remember that apologizing is not focused on defending yourself but to take responsibility for your actions and aim to be better.

Step 5: Finalize the Letter’s Format and Design

Last but not least, think about your apology letter’s final format or design. Check if the font style and font size are legible enough to read and that your sentences are divided into paragraphs and proper spacing for a more arranged output. Also, decide if the letter should be printed and sent via mail, printed and sent personally, or maybe email it instead. There are lots of ways to distribute the letter as long as it will be sent to your recipient no matter what.


What should you do in an apology letter?

Some steps you should follow in making the apology letter are:

  • Use respectful language and tone.
  • Always aim for an understandable and clear message to avoid misinterpretation.
  • Organize your details with the standard letter format to create a smooth flow.

What should you not do in an apology letter?

In creating an apology letter, be sure to take note of the following:

  • Write with quality so don’t just write for the sake of being forced to write the apology letter.
  • Avoid misleading words and sentences as it may create more conflict instead.
  • Most importantly, don’t expect recipients to forgive you immediately; some would take time.

What are some issues that businesses should apologize for?

According to Small Business Trends, a business apology letter may be needed in concerns related to bad customer service, improper handling or late shipping of goods, insufficient or damaged goods, scheduling conflicts or cancellation reports, financial problems, incorrect employee actions, missed deadlines, and bad behavior.

If ever you did something wrong that harmed another person or a group of people, don’t just hide. Own up to your mistake and develop a sincere apology letter. This document helps clear things up about what the mistake was, how to solve it, and other important details. Also, this is how businesses keep positive customer relationships with those they have harmed in the process. Thus, show how you are willing to change and learn to be better. And if you need help in making the letter itself, simply browse through downloadable and easy-to-edit sample apology letters for quick referencing.