How to Write a Refusal Letter

Dr. Mel Luthy, Chief Editor

A refusal letter communicates unhappy news in a diplomatic way. It is basically a “bad news letter.” You have one chance to say it right. Be as diplomatic as possible. Don’t let your words come back to haunt you someday.

  1. Open your refusal letter with a sincere expression of regret as you state exactly what you are refusing and how you received the request.
  2. Explain your reasons for refusing and any evidence you may have to back up your position.
  3. Offer alternate sources that your reader could appeal to with a better chance of success as a 'consolation prize.'
  4. Use courteous language throughout your letter, and end by expressing wishes for the reader's success elsewhere.
  5. Check your refusal letter carefully for typos or any other mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  6. Refer to essential references such as Little, Brown Handbook, The (12th Edition) (Aaron Little, Brown Franchise).

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