When things don’t go your way, you may need to know how to write an appeal letter to persuade another person to your point of view. The success of your letter of appeal could change your life.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn step-by-step how to write a professional appeal letter, including an appeal letter example. Take the time to understand and apply these tips.
7 Steps to Write a Professional Letter of Appeal
The situation that made it necessary for you to write a letter of appeal may be making you anxious. And if your mind is muddled up by being upset and worried, it’s hard to write an appeal letter that’s clear, logical, and persuasive. Fortunately, there are clear steps you can follow to make writing appeal letters go more smoothly:
1. Get Clear on Your Goal
Before you even write the first word of the appeal letter, make sure you’re clear on what you want to accomplish. Complete this sentence:
The goal of this appeal letter is to ____.
You may need the appeal letter so that a decision could be reviewed, a billing charge reversed, or a request reconsidered. Whatever your reason for writing an appeal letter, put down your answer on a piece of paper. You may need to remind yourself of this goal as you write the letter.
Now, you’re ready to write the appeal letter. Introduce yourself briefly and then state the reason for the appeal letter. (You can see examples later in this article.)
2. Describe the Situation
Next, describe the situation in a clear and concise manner. It’s usually best to describe events chronologically, from what happened first to what happened last. Remember to keep your emotions in check and simply provide the facts as you know them to be (more on this below). Use this part of the letter to give the reader the right context for the rest of your argument.
3. Admit Any Wrongdoing on Your Part
If you’re partly (or even mostly) to blame for the situation, then admit to it in the letter. Just get it out of the way. You can’t cover it up. And attempting to keep mum about it’ll only backfire.
Instead, by owning up to your mistakes or wrongdoing, the reader knows that you’re sensible enough to recognize your role in the circumstances. You can both move on from there.
4. Lay Out Your Argument
At this point in the appeal letter, lay out the argument for your appeal. It helps to clarify and organize your thoughts first on a separate sheet of paper. Write down all the reasons why the person reading your letter should give in to your request.
When you’ve got all the reasons listed, arrange them in order, from the most important reason to the least. Or from the most convincing to the least. You may not have enough room in your letter to include every single one.
Consider the person who’ll be receiving—and making a decision—on your appeal. What’s important to them? What might be their main objections? Make sure your arguments address those.
5. Include Persuasive Elements
Just because you make a good argument doesn’t mean it’ll fly. You need to bolster your arguments with a strong foundation made up of one or more of these Four Ps:
- Proof. Key evidence that supports your claim
- Policies. Existing policies of the school, company, organization, or organization you’re appealing to
- Principles. Beliefs, concepts, and philosophies that are generally accepted, or at least accepted by the letter’s recipient
- Precedents. Cases that are similar to yours where the decision was similar to what you’re asking for
As you can see, you’ll have to do some research to find proof, policies, principles, and precedents that are relevant to your appeal. Finding as many of these as you can is worth the time and effort. But take note that you may not always find each of these elements for each argument you make. Just do your best in the time you’ve got available.
If necessary, include these authority-building elements as attachments to your letter of appeal. You don’t want your letter to run too long. You can mention these in the letter and note that they’re attached.
6. State Your Desired Outcome and Give Them a Reason Why
With your arguments laid out and bolstered with persuasion-boosting elements, you’re almost ready to end the appeal letter. State the outcome or next steps you’d like the reader to take:
- Is it to convene an appeal panel?
- To meet with you?
- To issue a reversal of their decision?
- Something else?
Be clear on what your expectations are.
And give them a reason to take those next steps. It could be because it’s fair to all parties concerned. It could be because it adheres to existing policies. Or something else. In other words, tell them what’s in it for them.
7. End on a Positive Note
Finally, end the appeal letter on a positive note. Thank the reader forward their consideration. Let them know that you’re available to meet with them to discuss the matter (if that could be part of the appeal process).
Also, indicate when you’ll be following up and how. Give a specific date for when you expect to hear back from them. This makes them more likely to respond in a timely manner. It also removes the guesswork on your part on whether and when you should be following up with them.
With that, you can write the complimentary close, your name, and your contact information under your name.
Before we dive into an appeal letter example, let me point out some tips that’ll make your letter of appeal even better.
Top Tips on Writing an Appeal Letter that Persuades
Now you know the exact steps on how to write an appeal letter. There are still a few ways to improve your letter. Follow these pieces of advice, and you’ll increase your chances of success:
Know the Appeal Process
Find out what appeal process is in place for your situation. Perhaps instead of an appeal letter, there’s a form you should fill in instead. Or there might be a necessary step before submitting an appeal letter. Know the process and follow it.
Write to the Correct Person
If sending an appeal letter is part of the appeal process, find out to whom the letter should be addressed. Ascertain their name, position, and address. You’ll also need their telephone number (and email address) for your follow-up.
It’s also very helpful to know the name and contact details of the recipient’s secretary or assistant. They’re often the gatekeepers of their bosses, so get to know them!
Use a Professional Tone
Although your emotions may be running high, keep the tone of your appeal letter professional and dispassionate. That way, you’ll come across as a sensible and rational person, and the recipient will be more open to your message.
Informal words, idioms, and inflammatory language have no place in professional appeal letters.
This also means using the conventional letter format.
Keep It Brief
Earn extra points with the reader by keeping the letter of appeal brief. While your first draft can be long, your final letter should be as concise as possible. Go over the draft and delete any extraneous details and weak arguments. And remember, you can attach supporting documents to the main letter.
Stick to the Facts
Don’t make claims you can’t support with evidence. Stick to the facts of the situation and keep your opinions to yourself. As mentioned previously, you can attach documents to back up your version of events.
Typographical errors, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes reduce the credibility of your letter. Avoid them by proofreading your appeal letter before sending it off. Since you wrote the letter, it’s easy for you to become blind to your own errors. Use a spell and grammar checker.
Ask someone you trust to proofread the letter for you. A second (or even third) pair of eyes always helps.
Show your letter to another person, not only to spot mistakes but also to get feedback on the overall tone and strength of your letter. Ask them specifically if they find the letter logical, level-headed, and persuasive.
Also, ask them which parts they found hard to believe. Can you add one of the 4 Ps (see above) to make that point more believable?
Attach the Supporting Document
Don’t forget to attach the documents mentioned in your letter. Forgetting to send an attachment you promised in your letter would annoy the reader. It’s disrespectful and wastes their time. It could also cause them to question how seriously you take the appeal.
One way to avoid this is to make a list of attachments as you reread your letter, line by line. Check off each document on the list at least twice before sending the letter.
If you do forget an attachment, you’ll have no choice but to send it as soon as you realize your mistake. Drop it off in person, if that’s the fastest way to do so, with a note saying it should’ve been attached to your previous letter. This is when the recipient’s assistant or secretary may be of help.
After sending your appeal, your work is not yet done. Follow up when you said you would if you don’t get a reply by then. On that day, call or email.
And follow up two more times if you still haven’t received a response. Beyond that, review the appeals process again to determine the best next step. You may have to escalate your appeal to a higher authority.
An Example of a Professional Appeal Letter
Whether you’re writing an appeal letter for work, school, or personal life, the basic principles are the same. This example applies the steps above.
September 26, 2022
Chief, Human Resources Department
2100 Zenith Avenue, Kingsclear, NB R5H 0T8
Dear Ms. Salvatorre,
I’m Christine Riggs, Communications Officer with the Communications and Public Policy Division. I’m writing to appeal the Performance Committee’s decision not to grant me a pay raise.
At the review meeting last Thursday, the Committee told me it was because I had received a pay raise just six months prior.
I have since discovered that a memo issued by the HR Department on November 5, 2015 says: “An employee may receive a pay raise at every performance review as long as they meet their targets.” I have attached a copy of the memo.
Utilizing the data gathered from 15Five records, I am delighted to communicate that I have not only met, but rather, exceeded my performance targets for this specific review period. The extent of this achievement amounts to an impressive [insert percentage here]. Kindly find the attached 15Five report for your perusal.
Given these facts, I appeal to you to override the Performance Committee’s decision, as company policy allows you, and grant my pay raise.
Thank you very much for your consideration of this situation. I am available to meet with you on a day and time that are most convenient for you, should you wish to discuss the matter. If I don’t hear back, I will call to follow up on Tuesday, October 4th.
Below are more tips for writing various kinds of business letters. You can apply the principles of good letter-writing to your appeal letter.
Presentation Matters: Professional Letter Templates from Envato Elements
When it comes to writing persuasively, both the substance and the form of your letter are important. If you’re not sure how to give your appeal letter a professional look, use a letter template from Envato Elements.
Explore Letterhead Templates
With Elements, you get unlimited downloads of Microsoft Word templates for one low monthly subscription. You’ll also have at your fingertips all the assets you need to produce visually attractive appeal letters, such as fonts. Unlimited downloads of all these creative assets are included with your Elements subscription.
Another benefit of Envato Elements is its license. One license covers both personal and commercial use, so that you can use anything in the Elements library for personal or business use without worry.
Changing Minds: How to Write an Appeal Letter that Persuades
Ultimately, writing a letter of appeal is an exercise in persuasion. Its ultimate goal is to change minds and drive action in your favor. By first designing a logical argument for your case and then supporting it with persuasive elements, you can increase your chances of success.
Add a visually pleasant letter template, and your appeal letter will be a powerful tool for changing minds and motivating actions—with potentially life-changing effects for you. Choose a letterhead template from Elements to use with your appeal letter. You’ll come across as detail-oriented, polished, and professional.