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How to Write a Letter of Transmittal — Pro Tips

How to Write a Letter of Transmittal  — Pro Tips

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Whether sending documents online or handing over documents in real life, letters of transmittal are an important part of the process.

A letter of transmittal is like a cover letter on a resume.

It tells the recipient what to expect and gives an overview of the enclosed document.

Let’s go over how to write one, and some of the best practices for doing so.


How to Write a Letter of Transmittal

A letter of transmittal should be written using an introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The content must inform the reader of the content of the attached document. Salutations and complimentary closings should be used, as well as both the sender’s and recipient’s names and addresses. 

Before we get into how to write a letter of transmittal, it’s important that we go over the purpose of a letter of transmittal.

When writing, it’s important to refer to this purpose often. This will stop you from including extraneous information, and it will keep your writing clear and direct.


How to Write a Header for a Letter of Transmittal

The header of a letter of transmittal should include specific identifying information including name, company position, company name, and company address.

E-mail and phone number are sometimes included. In a separate paragraph include the recipient’s name, company name, and company address.

Even if the senders or recipients are groups of two or three, you should include all names specifically.

It’s best to direct this letter to a specific person or group of people, though if this information is unavailable, you may direct it to a department’s management. 

If sending a document to another person within the same company, you should still include the full address in both person’s paragraphs. 

When written correctly, a header should look like the following:


John Smith

Director of Logistics

ABC Shipping Company

12 Thistle Ave, Harfield VA 97832


Jane Doe

Head of Human Resources

ABC Shipping Company

12 Thistle Ave, Harfield VA 97832

Some people opt to include the sender’s information in a flatter style at the very top of a document, like in a resume. This is acceptable as well, though the style we have shown which breaks it up into address line 1, line 2, etc. is the most common for letters of transmittal. 


How to Write an Introduction for a Letter of Transmittal

An introductory paragraph in a letter of transmittal should include a salutation followed by a comma, and then identify the document which is attached. If it is a report, include the title of the report and what it describes. If this report was a requirement of a contract or agreement, include that information.


An example of an introduction is as follows:

Dear Ms. Doe,

As per our discussion on October 14th, I have compiled a report of average staffing needs in preparation for the upcoming seasonal hiring. This information has been extracted using the data from last three holiday seasons at XYZ Shipping Company. 

In the introduction alone, you have outlined the what and the why. The introduction should always get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible, as the whole purpose of a letter of transmittal is to clearly identify the purpose of a document.


How to Write the Body of a Letter of Transmittal

The 2-3 paragraphs within the body of a letter of transmittal should contain more in-depth information about the document, but do not make it an exact summary. You could describe the main points and key findings of your research, or the best solution to a problem you worked on. 

For company documents, these paragraphs should focus on summarizing the specific task or answer to a problem which the management asked you or your department to work on.

Give your specific answer in the letter of transmittal and include all of the data and in-depth reasonings in the main document.

For educational reports, write an outline of what your report or thesis contains.

You may write about your initial research question, how you went about finding your data, and then include a brief summary of the results. 

Because you have presumably been in contact with the recipient of the document, you do not need to re-elaborate too much on the ‘why’.

However, you should summarize what your report contains as to give them a refresher on the context. 

Let’s look at an example of a company document body paragraph:

The attached document contains a chart of the number of seasonal staff members from previous years, as well as how these numbers affected wait times for both shipments and in-store customers.

These correlations are the strongest on weekends directly before the holiday.

I have also included numbers for our current levels of staffing, and the number of staff members who have indicated they would be willing to be moved to a seasonal full-time position.

We will still need to run a staffing campaign, but utilizing current staff would cut down on the amount of training we would need to do for new hires.


How to Write the Conclusion of a Letter of Transmittal

The conclusion of a letter of transmittal should contain any final requests for the recipient. If additional information is needed, if payment is required, or if you would like a response e-mail, you should include this information here. Final thanks may also be included in this section if applicable.

Following the conclusion, a complimentary closing such as ‘many thanks’, ‘regards’, or ‘respectfully’ should be included, followed by your full name.

This close should be thought of the same way one would end an email or a letter. Include the full names of all group members if the letter is part of a group submission.  

An example of a conclusion in a letter of transmittal is as follows:

If you require any other data, please do not hesitate to reach out. The holiday staffing is a crucial part of meeting this year’s sales goals, so I would appreciate it if you would fax the Logistics Department the outline of this year’s staffing plan as soon as it has been finalized.  Many thanks,

John Smith

If you are encouraging the recipient to reach out to you, then make absolutely certain that you have included your contact information at the top of the page.

Including an e-mail address, fax, or phone number in the header is not normally necessary, but if you ask them to contact you then it is vital to go back and add that information.

Do not add your contact information into the conclusion, as it looks unprofessional mid-paragraph. Listing it below the complimentary close is also quite uncommon.

Contact items on a letter of transmittal are to be written in the same way as on a resume, so format it the same way. The best practice is for the contact information to always be included in the header. 


Can a letter of transmittal be two pages?

A letter of transmittal should never be longer than a single page. This letter is meant to be a very brief description of the following document to provide context, so making it very long would defeat the purpose. Keep it to a single page, and do not make that page too dense with text.

Just like in a cover letter, a letter of transmittal is like the front page of a document. This front page should be kept brief and easy to read so that the reader can quickly discern the purpose of the document they’ve received.

It also keeps it easier to access when filed among multiple other documents they may have.

Do not try to cheat the system by printing your letter of transmittal double-sided. Similar to the rule printing a resume on both sides, you should never print a cover letter that way to try and get around the single page rule.

If you find yourself wanting a second page, go back and re-assess your information.

There should never be any need for more than a few paragraphs for a letter of transmittal. Keep it simple, and the recipient will appreciate you for it!


What is the Purpose of a Letter of Transmittal?

A letter of transmittal is a letter that introduces the main document of a file or email attachment.

This letter informs the reader what the document is, what it is about, includes the date, and any other relevant information. It is attached to give context to reports handed in to other people.

The reader should be able to gather a few pieces of information from the letter of transmittal. Remember the 5 W’s! These include the following:

Who – Who the sender and recipient are (is it meant for an individual, or a whole team?).

What – What the document is about, and a quick summary of the contents.

Where – Include the addresses of sender and recipient as well as company information.

When – Include the date of submittal and any other relevant project dates.

Why – Why is this document being sent to this person? Does it require action on their part, or had they requested it? This can be written specifically or gathered through context depending on the situation.