Apology Letter: How to Write + Template & UK Samples

It sometimes happens that things go wrong, and you’re the one who has to take responsibility. Maybe your company suffered a data breach on your watch, a major client was left unsatisfied, or you said or did something you shouldn’t have at a work party. Whatever it was, here you are—writing an apology letter.

 

In this article, you’ll find a sincere apology letter sample that’s more effective than most. You’ll get expert, UK-specific advice to help you sort through the wreckage and share a plan for how to move forward. With a step-by-step writing guide, you’ll have all this behind you sooner than you think.

 

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Apology letter template 

 

Noah Connolly

64 Old Edinburgh Road

Liverpool

L1 2SD

070 6390 9801

noah.connolly@lcmail.co.uk

 

7th April 2022

 

Edgar Wright

Owner

Wright Motors

96 Kendell Street

Liverpool

L1 0AE

 

Dear Mr Wright,

 

As you know, the batch of outboard motors that shipped last week was plagued with QC issues. Some motors were shipped incomplete and others were inadequately packaged, leading to cosmetic damage and soiling during shipping. As Production Manager, this was a grave failing on my part.

 

I sincerely apologise for the series of oversights that led to such an unacceptable outcome. I am painfully aware of the reputational damage my actions may have caused for Wright Motors and the immediate costs of making this right with distributors and retailers.

 

I recalled both shipments headed for international distribution. They are currently at port awaiting return freight. I propose that we ship fresh stock to these international distributors, we will have the inventory to do so on Monday. The three affected UK retailers are close enough that it will be faster and cheaper to send crews out to repair, QC, and repackage the units on-site. All three retailers have indicated that this is what they prefer.

 

I have scheduled one-on-one meetings with my production coordinators on Monday and a general production staff meeting on Tuesday. The focus of these meetings will be to put such procedures in place that this never happens again.

 

I very much hope that this incident has not irreparably eroded the trust you have placed in me. I will do everything I can to earn back that trust and hope that you can forgive me.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Noah Connolly

 

It’s not easy to apologise in writing but, as the example above shows, it’s not impossible. Here’s how to write a letter of apology that’s both sincere and professional:

 

1. Set up your apology letter with a professional header and formal salutation

 

The ‘formal’ part of ‘formal apology letter’ implies that there are certain rules your apology letter has to follow. Starting with the header: align to the right your name, postal address, email, and phone number. Leave a line and add the date of writing, followed by another blank line.

 

Then, align to the left your recipient’s name, their job title, the company name, and the company’s inside address. Write out the postal addresses just as though you were addressing an envelope. Do all of this even if you’re attaching your letter of apology to an email, it might be printed and archived.

 

Going along with the apology letter format, you’ll need an appropriate salutation. Use ‘Dear + Mr/Ms + Surname’ or ‘Dear + First Name’. If you deal day-to-day with your apology letter recipient, then stick to being on a first-name basis if that’s what you’re used to. Otherwise, default to the more formal option.

 

How to write an apology letter: header and salutation

 

Noah Connolly

64 Old Edinburgh Road

Liverpool

L1 2SD

070 6390 9801

noah.connolly@lcmail.co.uk

 

7th April 2022

 

Edgar Wright

Owner

Wright Motors

96 Kendell Street

Liverpool

L1 0AE

 

Dear Mr Wright,

 

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2. Start your apology letter by accepting responsibility and apologising directly

 

How to start an apology letter? By acknowledging what you did wrong. Accept responsibility and, as you do so, make it clear that you understand the effect your actions had on your reader. You will allow your reader to feel heard and understood, which is a vital component of an effective apology.

 

Taking responsibility means that you don’t try to minimise your shortcomings or to spread the blame. Even if you’re not solely responsible for what went wrong, this is your apology letter and the focus should at all times remain on your actions. There’s no room for shirking in a professional apology letter.

 

Apologise for your actions, inaction, or negligence. Be direct and sincere: don’t write ‘I’d like to apologise’ or ‘I wanted to say sorry’. Write ‘I apologise’ or ‘I’m sorry’. There’s a big difference and your reader will certainly pick up on it.

 

Letter of apology: opening paragraphs

 

As you know, the last batch of outboard motors that shipped last week was plagued with QC issues. Some motors were shipped incomplete and others were inadequately packaged, leading to cosmetic damage and soiling during shipping. As Production Manager, this was a grave failing on my part.

 

I sincerely apologise for the series of oversights that led to such an unacceptable outcome. I am painfully aware of the reputational damage my actions may have caused for Wright Motors and the immediate costs of making this right with distributors and retailers.

 

3. Use your apology letter to show that you’re working on making things right

 

It’s important that your apology letter isn’t just one long, chest-beating mea culpa. People are often less satisfied with receiving an apology than they thought they would be, so the reader is unlikely to enjoy reading a long, complicated confession. Instead of explaining yourself or going into too much detail about your mistakes, focus on concrete information. 

 

A letter of apology is one of your first and best chances to start moving forward, fixing the problem, and making amends. Share your plans for doing just that. Lay out what you’ve already done, what you’re currently doing, and what you plan to do moving forward. Part of this could be damage control and picking up the pieces, but try to be more proactive than that: show that you’re working to avoid a repeat performance.

 

How to write an apology letter: main paragraphs

 

I recalled both shipments headed for international distribution. They are currently at port awaiting return freight. I propose that we ship fresh stock to these international distributors, we will have the inventory to do so on Monday. The three affected UK retailers are close enough that it will be faster and cheaper to send crews out to repair, QC, and repackage the units on-site. All three retailers have indicated that this is what they prefer.

 

I have scheduled one-on-one meetings with my production coordinators on Monday and a general production staff meeting on Tuesday. The focus of these meetings will be to put such procedures in place that this never happens again.

 

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4. End your apology letter by asking for forgiveness and signing off properly

It’s one thing to know how to end an apology letter and another to do it. It’s time to ask for forgiveness. This is a major driving force behind any apology. Asking someone for forgiveness, especially if there’s been bad blood between you, can be difficult. It’ll make for a sincere apology letter, though.

 

With that bullet bitten, you’re almost done. A formal apology letter requires a formal sign-off. Use ‘Yours Sincerely’, leave a few lines blank and type out your full name. Sign above your name if you’re printing out your apology letter. Consider pasting in a digital copy of your signature if you’re emailing it.

 

How to write an apology letter: ask for forgiveness before signing off

 

I very much hope that this incident has not irreparably eroded the trust you have placed in me. I will do everything I can to earn back that trust and hope that you can forgive me.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Noah Connolly

 

 

5. Keep these apology letter format guidelines in mind

 

A formal apology letter needs to follow the standard business letter format. That’s why setting your header out properly is so important. Depending on who’s the addressee and why, your letter may become an official document. All the more reason to make it look professional.

 

Use lots of white space in your apology letter

 

Leave the margins at the default one inch. Set the line spacing to 1.15 and use double-space between paragraphs. This will help make your apology letter easier to read. Try to keep to a single page if possible. Including lots of white space is more important than a low page count, though: a huge block of text with no breaks is uninviting and difficult to read and comprehend. 

 

Choose a professional-looking font

 

Choose an easy-to-read, sans serif font for your letter of apology. Stick with the default Arial or Calibri if in doubt: they won’t draw any attention to themselves, and that’s exactly what you want. Leave the font size at 11–12 points.

 

Save your apology letter in PDF

 

Emailing your apology letter as an attachment? Save it in PDF before sending it. PDF is more stable than something like a *.docx file. It’ll also keep your formatting and layout intact between most devices and printers.

 

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Pretty confident you now know how to write a letter of apology? Or maybe you’ve got some unanswered questions? Leave a comment down below—we’ll be sure to get back to you. We’d also love it if you would share your experiences with writing an apology letter!

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LiveCareer Editorial Team

LiveCareer Editorial Team

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Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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