How to Write an Appeal Letter

How to Write an Appeal Letter

Updated 30 December 2020

Written by Melissa Reynolds

An appeal letter is one you write if you feel you have been treated wrongly in some way or if you want a decision to be changed.

Throughout your life, you will likely have some reasons to write an appeal letter. You may feel you were unfairly denied a raise at work or that you were relieved of your job without reason. You may have been denied a school program of your choice or need to appeal an academic standing.

One of the best ways to turn the odds in your favor is by writing an appeal letter.

An appeal letter explains why you think the action or decision was wrong and strives to change the decision by laying out your reasons and facts.

Regardless of the reason, knowing how to put an appeal letter together is a good skill to have.

Top Tips for Writing an Appeal Letter

There are many things to consider when writing an appeal letter. Make sure you use all these points when writing your letter to make sure it is the best appeal you can write.

Know the Policy

Whether you have lost your job, been denied a raise or not accepted into a program, each institution will likely have its own appeals process.

Your employer or school likely has a handbook that lays out what to do in these situations. Check any documentation or speak with your human resources department to get the details of its appeal process.

Note important information such as due dates for appeals and what information is needed.

It is always a good idea to check the advice of outside legal or trade union representation as well, especially if there are some issues you are unsure about.

Know the Recipient

Your appeal will not get far unless it is seen by the right person. Having your letter go through many people to reach the right one will only serve to slow down or even derail your appeal process.

Be sure to do a bit of research to find out to whom you should send your letter.

If it is job-related, this will likely be your superior or human resources. If it is academic-related, there is likely a department that deals with appeals.

Either way, ensure that you find the right place to send your letter to hasten the process.

Use a Polite Tone

If you are writing an appeal letter, you have likely been denied something, and your mood may not be the most pleasant one. Make sure you keep the tone in your letter polite and respectful.

Remember that you want the outcome to be favorable and that may not happen if you come across as surly and argumentative.

It can be a good idea to write a draft, let it sit for a day or so and look at it again. This gives you time to calm down and look at your argument with fresh eyes.

You can also try asking a friend to look it over, as an objective pair of eyes is even better.

Keep it Brief and Specific

You do not want to go over everything in your letter. Simply highlight what you think has been denied and how you would like that to change.

Keeping it brief and business-like shows that you are focused on reaching an agreeable outcome.

Highlight any new information you may have and any policies you have come across that back up your appeal.

Admit to Any Mistakes

If there are mistakes that you made, admit to them rather than try to cover them up or pass them off to someone else.

Owning up to your mistakes will show maturity and that you can hopefully grow from the experience.

Explain What You Would Like to Happen

If you are writing an appeal letter, there is an outcome that you desire. Make it clear in your letter what it is that you want to achieve by appealing.

If you do not, you may find they offer something else to simply appease you and end the appeal.

Proofread Carefully

A letter that is full of mistakes will do little to make your point. Make sure you look it over carefully, and maybe even have a friend look it over too.

If you are terrible at spelling and grammar, maybe hire a professional to look it over.

Follow Up

Depending on where you have sent your letter, it may take them a while to get back to you.

Give yourself a window of a few weeks and then follow up with a second letter, email or phone call to check on the status of your appeal.

How to Write an Appeal Letter

While an appeal letter is similar in many ways to a formal letter, it requires some different information.

Follow our step-by-step guide to see what is required, with examples:

Addressing the Letter

Your letter should have both your address and contact information, as well as the details for the person to whom you are sending it.

List your contact information in the upper right corner and then your addressee contact information with the date underneath on the left.

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address

[DATE]

Addressee Contact Information
Name
Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip Code

How to Write an Appeal LetterHow to Write an Appeal Letter

The Greeting

Do your best to find out who to address your appeal to. If you cannot, then use 'Dear Ms or Mr' or 'Sir/Madam' or even 'Appeals Committee'.

First Paragraph

The first paragraph is the place to introduce yourself and explain why you are writing an appeal letter.

Be brief and to the point, you can explain more in later paragraphs.

My name is Jane Doe and for the past four years I have worked as a junior editor for [department and boss]. I was next in line for a promotion in June and it went to someone else. I feel that this is unfair and that I was overlooked.

My name is Sara Bloggs and I recently applied to your senior study group but was denied. However, I feel I have the marks and supplementary experience to warrant a place.

Second Paragraph

Explain your side of the story and why you feel the wrong decision was made.

Support your explanation with facts and be sure to mention whether you are submitting any forms of proof.

As junior editor, I have been in charge of editing and proofreading all of the young reader titles for the past three years. I have stepped in for my manager when she was on vacation and have taken additional courses to reach senior-level status. My co-worker started after I did and has not handled as many titles as I have. I believe I was next in line for the senior editor position.

I have achieved a 4.0 average in all four years of school, as well as taking every course your department offered. I even took additional courses at a local school to supplement what I learned here. I have attached my transcripts again as well as a list of additional courses and texts I have done.

Having filled the role of junior supervisor for three years, I feel the role of senior supervisor was the next step. I believe I was held back because I did not receive the mandatory training as laid out in the employee handbook, chapter 3, page 8. I have attached a copy for your reference.

Third Paragraph

State what you would like to happen with your appeal.

Do you want the promotion? Do you want admittance to the school program? Or do you simply want the institution to admit they made a mistake?

You also need to set a date for when you would like a decision. It may be you have another job offer waiting or another school program you applied to.

I hope that you realize that I was overlooked for the promotion and that I will soon be promoted to senior editor. I will need a decision by [date] as I have other avenues I can pursue.

I hope that you can look over my information again and find a space for me in your program. I need a decision by [date].

Final Paragraph

End your letter politely with a 'thank you' and call to action. Indicate that you will follow up shortly if you do not hear anything back.

Thank you for taking the time to look over my appeal and I'd welcome the chance to discuss further in person. You can contact me using the contact details above. I will follow up in a week by phone to check on the status.

What to Avoid

As with any type of professional letter, there are a few things to avoid doing:

  • Do Not make it too personal. Everyone has difficulties in day-to-day life, but unless you have extreme extenuating circumstances, they should not be mentioned as a reason for your failure or actions. Simply admit to your failing and state that you hope to move on from this.
  • Do Not deny. If you have done something that has resulted in your lack of promotion, demotion or non-acceptance to a program, the worst thing you can do is deny it. Denying shows your inability to take responsibility for your actions and you may likely face a harsher punishment than the one you already received, and you will not win your appeal.
  • Do Not attack anyone. You may dislike your boss but do not think making a personal attack against them will help your appeal. It shows you to be petty and immature and will not be looked at well.
  • Do Not exaggerate. Exaggeration does not belong in an appeal letter. Making things seem worse than they are will not help. Stick only to the facts.
  • Do Not lie. Outright lying about something in your appeal letter will only result in a negative outcome for you.

Example Letter

Mr John Doe
123 College Street
Maintown, USA
12345
123 456 7890
jdoe@gmail.com

[Date]

Ms Catherine Joy
Managing Editor
ABC Books
123 Working Road
Big City, USA
12354

Dear Ms Joy,

My name is John Doe, the junior editor at ABC Books. I am writing to appeal your decision to not promote me to senior editor when my annual review took place on December 15, 2020.

As noted in my review, you believe that I do not hold the experience or qualifications for the position.

I have four years' experience as a junior editor, proofing and editing many different books. I have stepped in for my supervisor when she has been away on vacations, monitoring a team of 10 editors. I have also taken several supplementary courses to upgrade my skills.

I honestly believe that I have the necessary qualifications for the senior editor position and I hope that you change your mind. If you could come to a decision in the next week that would be much appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to look over my appeal and I hope to hear from you soon. If I do not hear from you within a week, I will follow up with a phone call.

Yours truly,

[Signature] John Doe

Final Thoughts

Life can be unfair sometimes, so knowing how to write an appeal letter is simply good practice.

You may not always get the outcome you like, but at least knowing how to appeal gives you a good shot at working towards the result you desire.

Keep your letter brief and to the point but make sure to clearly outline why you feel your appeal should be granted.

Keep it clear of mistakes and be sure to follow up and you will hopefully have success in your appeal.