How to write congratulations letters

Updated February 21, 2017

A letter is a thoughtful way to deliver a congratulatory message to friends and family members, commemorating accomplishments and achievements. Write a congratulations letter to acknowledge a wedding, graduation, job promotion or new baby. These letters are usually casual in tone and structure, since you are likely to know the recipient quite well. However, sometimes congratulations notes are sent to business associates or clients. These letters should take on a more formal tone.

Send a congratulatory message immediately after learning of someone's good fortune. A delayed message will seem insincere.

Include the return address in the top-right corner of the letter and the recipient's address on the left side just below that. This is necessary only for formal letters.

Add the date of the letter before you begin writing. The date should be inserted two lines below the recipient's address for a formal letter or six spaces from the top of the page in a more casual message.

Skip two lines and write an appropriate salutation. Use the recipient's name to make the letter more personal. For formal letters, use titles like Mr., Ms. or Dr. to show respect.

Write an introduction to the letter that explains the purpose of the correspondence. State the exact achievement you are referencing and indicate how you heard of the good news, if relevant. Avoid vagueness. The recipient should know the exact reason for your letter.

Use the body of the letter to further communicate your praise, express your approval and discuss the significance of the achievement. This would be a good place to include your personal related experience or some simple words of advice. Keep the tone friendly and be concise, limiting the letter to one page.

End the body of the letter by including a paragraph that restates your congratulatory message. Offer a wish of continued success and good luck. This is also a good place to express your desire for future contact.

Skip two lines and add a sincere closing remark such as "Best Wishes" or "Yours Truly." This should be followed by a comma.

Skip four lines and type your name (if you have chosen not to write your message by hand). Include your title if you are writing a formal letter. Insert your signature above the typed name.


An informal congratulations letter can be handwritten or typed. A handwritten letter is generally more personal, but a typed letter can be easier to read. Visit Writing Help Central for samples of congratulations letters (see Resources below).


Avoid too much emphasis on your own accomplishments and experiences. A related story is fine, but the majority of the letter should praise the recipient. Avoid exaggeration or overpraising the recipient, since this can come off as sarcastic.

Things You'll Need

  • Stationery with matching envelopes
  • Recipient's title and address
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