Writing an Apology Letter: What You Need to
By Alice Feathers, M.A. TESOL, Professional Editor and Writer
Each of us has, at one time or another, said or done something that we wish we hadn't said or
done. Rather than dwell on the mistake, however, we should take quick action to remedy the
problem and then get on with life. An effective letter of apology is an important part of that
process and can help turn "lemons into lemonade" and actually improve a relationship. This
short article will give you several reasons for writing an apology letter and offer a few
important suggestions to help you write a good one.
TIMING. Write the apology letter as soon as possible.
ACTIONS. Rather than focusing on the damage you have caused, write about things
you will do to rectify the situation.
BRIEF. Keep your apology letter short and to the point.
SINCERITY. No one wants to read overly dramatic language. Choose your words
carefully and express yourself clearly and simply.
TONE. Your apology letter should be considerate and respectful. Remember, you are
trying to rebuild a damaged relationship.
BLAIM. Take full responsibility for what you have done.
FOLLOW UP. Try to set up a time when you can apologize in person, then back up
your apology with considerate behavior in the future.
An apology letter can be appropriate for any of these
For a defective, damaged, or incomplete product
Tips: Write this apology as soon as possible after the incident. Focus on actions to
rectify the situation rather than any damage you may have caused. Accompany your
apology with a promise of compensation or restitution. A sincere apology can go a long
way toward winning back a disgruntled customer. Consider offering the customer a
peace offering such as a discount on their next purchase.
Prepared by Pat Kamalani Hurley, Professor CC
Leeward CC (University of Hawai'i)