Formal Apology Letter: Writing Guide (Format & Sample)

A formal apology letter is a document you can write to ask for forgiveness for an action or words that didn’t go well with the other party. The letter in most cases seeks forgiveness from colleagues, individuals in a higher authority or a company or business. The format and language used in the letter should be official. Any time you find yourself in the wrong at work or business, write a letter and apologize to the relevant authorities.

Writing apology letters is challenging; you must be careful on the words to use. When in doubt of the format and words to use in the letter use a template or sample.

What to include in a formal apology letter

  • Summarize the incident: In the letter, give a brief account of the event, noting it wasn’t your wish to offend the other party.
  • Acknowledge the mistake: When writing the letter, avoid evading your role in the mistake; don’t blame others for the incident. Accept you were wrong and request to be forgiven. Acknowledging a mistake is the first step in seeking forgiveness.
  • Timing: Once you know you have made a mistake, take the initiative and apologize. It shouldn’t take ages to apologize; an apology has more significance when the incident is still fresh to the individual.
  • Promise never to repeat the mistake: Besides apologizing for a mistake, you must commit not to repeat the mistake.
  • Suggest a solution or ways of avoiding a repeat the incident: Based on what went wrong, try to offer suggestions on possible solutions to the problem. Highlight ways both parties can use to avoid the problem.
  • Apologize sincerely: Do not apologize as a matter of formality; a genuine apology must come from deep in your heart.

Formal apology letter format

Dear [recipient’s name]

I admit I was wrong to [indicate the mistake] on [time and date]. Anger drove my actions.

Kindly accept my apologies. [You should avoid slang and casual language in the letter].

My actions were uncalled for, and I can understand the [frustration/worry] they caused [Elaborate on how your actions affected the respondent].

Although I was angry, I admit the response was overboard, and I take responsibility for my behavior.

I have taken corrective action to prevent a recurrence of the mistake in the future. [Any tangible actions you have taken to avoid a repeat of the mistake must be highlighted at this point].

I regret my actions and promise I will never repeat this.

Once more accept my apologies.

Respectfully yours,

[Your name]

Sample formal apology letter/email



Subject: Apology for lateness

Dear Mr. Adan

I admit my mistake for been late for a second day this week. The act is against the company policies and affected my colleagues since I am the person who opens the offices.

Though we have had a rise in crime in our area and people can’t move out of their house before dusk, I believe this shouldn’t affect my reporting time.

I have made the necessary arrangements to relocate from my current residence this weekend. A repeat of this mistake will not occur in the future.

Kindly accept my apologies. Once more I am sorry for the incident.


Alice May

Types of formal apology letter

Formal apology letter to boss

A formal apology letter to a boss is written by a junior staff to ask for forgiveness for a wrong act. The tone of the letter should be respectful in the letter include;

  • A brief recount of the incident
  • Sincere apology
  • Way forward

Apology letter to customer

When a mistake occurs to a customer by any of your employees, write a letter and apologize to the customer. It takes efforts to establish strong business relationships. An apology can work wonders to retain a customer. When writing the letter consider these details;

  • What occurred?
  • Corrective action
  • A promise that the incident won’t recur

Apology letter for a mistake at work

An apology letter for a mistake at work is a letter an individual can write to apologize to their seniors, colleagues, junior staff or the company. Address the letter to the right individual. In the letter the following information should not miss;

  • A summary of the incident
  • An apology
  • A commitment never to repeat the mistake