How to Start and End an Apology Letter? (24 Perfect Examples)

Apology Letter

You screwed up. Is there a nicer way to say this? Maybe. Are there meaner ways to say this? Most definitely. But the fact of the matter is You. Screwed. Up. Now you have to do the adult thing and take responsibility for your actions, and apologize. Many people prefer a face-to-face apology. However, sometimes this can’t be done. Maybe you are afraid you’ll fluster your words, perhaps say something in anger and just make the situation worse. Maybe this was such a colossal screw up it affected a large number of people. Maybe the person you offended was so offended they relocated to get away from you. An apology letter might not fix everything, but it is a start in the right direction.

This could be a physical document, i.e., a piece of paper with writing, or an e-mail. Either way, it acknowledges the mistake, expresses regret, and respectfully asks for forgiveness or at least patience. Ideally, it would also express an attempt to make restitution if possible. It is important in a workplace environment because it is physical proof that you own their mistakes and try to make up for them.

Why is Writing an Apology Letter so Hard?

You might think that admitting to a mistake makes you a bad person. Actually, it’s a lack of empathy that makes someone a bad person. If you can empathize with someone you’ve hurt without getting defensive, you show them that one mistake does not reflect on who you are as a person. While apologizing can lead to more accusations, not apologizing can lead to resentment. You can’t control how someone feels, but you can at least try for what would be less toxic on the whole. 

How to Start an Apology Letter

Following are the steps for starting an apology letter:

Acknowledge your mistake

Right off the bat, accept responsibility for what it is you did. Point out what you did and why it made them upset. Be sincere and humble while showing empathy.

For example:

“Dear Father Sullivan, I was the one who e-mailed you erotic fan fiction instead of the annual financial report for the orphanage. I recognize that this caused you embarrassment as well as inconvenience.” 

Apologize sincerely

You need to say the words “I am sorry”. Express regret the consequences. Don’t shift blame or give excuses.

For example:

“I am truly sorry for not paying more attention to what I attached to my e-mail. I feel terrible that you were exposed to graphic descriptions of furry bondage when you were counting on me to supply the figures needed to plan next year’s budget.”

Describe what happened

You can give an explanation, but not an excuse. Still acknowledge there was a wrong, and you intend to right it. This shows that you will back up your words with actions.

For example:

“I should not keep my work documents and my online hobby documents in the same file on my computer. I will keep them in separate files from now on. Please find the appropriate documentation attached to this message.”

Admit you were wrong

Humbly admit that this was your failing. You may politely request forgiveness on the understanding that you are owed nothing. Realize that the matter is not resolved until your relationship with the receiver is amended. 

For example:

“The mistake was mine entirely. I should be more attentive.”

How to End an Apology Letter

Below are the guidelines on how to end an apology letter:

Share your plan to fix the problem

Propose something that can fix the problem you caused or at least appease the injured party. This may require some thought.

For example:

“I will be more attentive in the future. I am planning on getting a work computer so I can keep it separate from my ventures. For now, I apologize to you and anyone else I may have hurt.”

Ask for forgiveness

Make this a polite request. The injured party is under no obligation to forgive, but it’s nice to be asked. 

For example:

“I humbly ask your forgiveness, Father. I understand fully how you were made upset by this matter, but I hope we can still work together in the future.”

Deliver the letter

If you are equals, you can e-mail the person. If the person is your superior, you may have to print it out and deliver it in person. In romantic relationships, you are equals, but handwritten letters are more meaningful. 

Apology Letter Template

Dear (Recipient)

I am very sorry for (whatever it is you did). I understand that this resulted in (acknowledge the results of your actions). I truly regret this, and I am very sorry for any (hurt/ inconvenience/ embarrassment, etc.) this has caused. I accept full responsibility and hope you may forgive me. Rest assured, this behavior will not be repeated. For now, I propose to (describe a plan to rectify the situation.) Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, (Your name)

Types of Apology Letters

Following are different types of apology letters:


Apology letter from a drug addict

Let's say you're in a twelve-step program. You made it to Step Eight and wrote down a list of all the people you've harmed. Congratulations, you're up to Step Nine: "Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." Do keep the second half of that advice in mind. Maybe this person is better off never hearing from you again. If you think they would like an apology, a letter might be the best way to do it.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter for a car accident

This is tricky. Your lawyer will advise against it because it can be seen as an admission of guilt. However, if the damage was minimal, say, you dinged the bumper of a parked car no one was in, you might want to leave a note under the windshield wiper. (Keep in mind, cameras are everywhere. If you are caught on film leaving a car you damaged, you can be in a lot of trouble.) This short and to the point note should not only have an apology but an offer to pay for damages and your contact information.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Business apology letter

In business transactions, it may not always be your fault. The customer may have been unlucky enough to get what should've been a factory reject. You may have hired a rude employee. (Fire them.) Weather can delay deliveries. Apologize anyway. The customer is always right. Address their grievance, apologize for the inconvenience and offer a way to make up for it. Everyone loves a discount.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter to a friend

This is hard because it's so personal. It may be easier to forgive a stranger than a friend because the friend should have known what would hurt you and cared. Accepting blame for what you've done is about all you can do and accept the consequences.


Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter to girlfriend or boyfriend

Same with apologizing to a friend. Don't start with any sappy pet names. That will get your letter wadded up and thrown away before they finish reading the first sentence. Be respectful yet honest and affectionate about accepting responsibility for whatever it is you've done and promise to rectify your behavior from now on. A red rose (true love) or purple hyacinth (regrets) are appropriate gifts to accompany the note. Accept whatever the other person wishes.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter for bad behavior

Claim responsibility for what you did, sincerely apologize and show empathy. Don't blame the booze, lack of sleep, or your parents' poor choices. Express your apology and how much you value the relationship with the other as appropriate. You may offer to make up for what you've done.


Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter for the mistake

Perhaps it was not malicious what you did. Perhaps it was just a simple human error. You're allowed that. But the other person still deserves an apology.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter to customer

This person is your bread and butter. You may want to include some coupons with your letter to ensure their continued interest in your products and/or services.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter to parents

Unlike most people you will apologize to, they are the least likely to end the relationship. Still, you may owe them at least an apology if you hurt them. They're people too.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter to teacher

Your teacher or your child's teacher? Either way, teachers rarely receive apology letters but would likely very much appreciate one. Spelling and grammar will definitely count here.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Apology letter to spouse

Same with the girlfriend/boyfriend letter. Just be honest.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)

    Free Templates

    Following are some free downloadable templates for you:

    how to apologize for a mistake professionally

    Sorry for my behavior letter

    apology letter for wrong doing

    how to apologize for inappropriate behavior


    apology letter for wrong doing


    letter of apology for bad behaviour to girlfriend

    how to apologize for inappropriate behavior



      Tips for Writing an Apology Letter

      Following are some tips for writing an apology letter:

      • Be sincere: It needs to be an honest apology. No backhanded “I’m sorry you feel that way”. If you don’t honestly feel sorry, don’t bother. 
      • Be concise: The recipient may be owed a short explanation, but keep it short. They don’t need to wade through War and Peace when “I’m sorry” is enough. 
      • Be selfless: This is all on you. Don’t blame the recipient at all. Even if much of the fault was in someone else, accept your fault in trusting them. 


      A well-written apology letter can clear the air and make it known that this was but an aberration of who you truly are. It expresses that you accept your fallibility and wish to make amends to anyone you’ve hurt. 

      Apologies are never easy, but they are often necessary. It means taking responsibility for what you’ve done and facing the consequences of your actions.  It can be unpleasant, but it is part of being a civilized adult.