What to Include in a Resignation Letter to Quit a Job

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Once you have decided to quit your job, the professional thing to do is submit a letter of resignation. Your resignation letter will ease the transition over the next two weeks at the job and will also help you maintain a positive relationship with your employer even after you are no longer with the company. Here are some tips on writing your resignation letter, including what to include and how to format it.

What to Include in Your Letter

It's usually better to resign in person, and then follow up with a formal resignation letter. However, if you need to send a resignation email, write it as professionally as you would a resignation letter on paper.

Although under some circumstances, such as a cross-country move, moving abroad, or a decision to focus on parenting, it may make sense to disclose the reason for your resignation; however, in many cases, sharing the details about why you are resigning is not necessary.

Writing and Formatting Your Letter

writing a resignation letter
The Balance / Kelly Miller

In general, your resignation letter should be brief and to the point. Your message should include information on when you are leaving. Although it's not required, offering to help during the transitional period and weeks following is generally appreciated. You can also let the employer know you appreciate your time with the company.

Your resignation letter will be included in your employment file and could be shared with potential future employers; therefore, it should be professional and polite.

The notice should also be positive. If you've decided to move on, there's no point in criticizing your employer or your job. Avoid including anything negative or disparaging about the company, your supervisor, your co-workers, or your subordinates. You may need a reference from that company one day. Here are some things to consider when formatting your letter:

  • Length of the Letter: Most resignation letters are no more than one typed page.
  • Font and Size: Use a traditional font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Your font size should be between 10 and 12 points.
  • Format: A resignation letter should be single-spaced with a space between each paragraph. Use 1" margins and align your text to the left (the alignment for most business documents).
  • Accuracy: Edit your resignation letter before mailing it. You might also want to ask a career counselor or a friend to proofread.

Organizing Your Resignation Letter

After including a header and salutation, the opening paragraph of your message should provide notice of your resignation and give the immediate details of your departure. Any subsequent explanation as to why you're leaving is up to your discretion. Review these organization tips before you sit down to write your letter.

  • Header: A resignation letter should begin with both you and the employer's contact information (name, title, company name, address, phone number, email) followed by the date. If this is an email rather than an actual letter, include your contact information at the end of the letter, after your signature.
  • Salutation: Address the resignation letter to your manager. Use his or her formal title ("Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr. XYZ").
  • Paragraph 1: State that you are resigning and include the date on which your resignation will be effective. Check your contract to see how much notice you are required to give your manager.
  • Paragraph 2: (Optional) If desired, state the reason you're leaving (i.e. beginning another job, going back to school, taking time off), but this is not necessary. If you do reveal the reason, be positive, focusing on where you are going next, not on what you disliked about your current job.
  • Paragraph 3: (Optional) Unless you know you will be completely unavailable, say that you are willing to help with the transition your leaving will cause.
  • Paragraph 4: (Optional) Thank your manager for the opportunity to work for the company. If you had a particularly good experience, you add a bit more detail about what you appreciated about the job (the people you worked with, the projects you worked on, etc.).
  • Paragraph 5: (Optional) If you would like a letter of reference from your manager, ask for it here.
  • Close: Use a kind but formal signoff, such as "Sincerely" or "Yours Sincerely."
  • Signature: End with your handwritten signature followed by your typed name. If this is an email, simply include your typed name, followed by your contact information.

Resignation Letter Example

Here is a resignation letter example. Download the resignation letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online).

Screenshot of a resignation letter example
©TheBalance 2018

Resignation Letter Example (Text Version)

Steve Lau
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
555-555-5555
steve.lau@email.com

September 1, 2018

Ginger Lee
Manager
Watson and Smith
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321

Dear Ms. Lee:

I’m writing today to notify you that I will be resigning from my position as receptionist effective two weeks from today. I have enjoyed my time here at Watson and Smith, and I thank you for the opportunity and training you have provided over the past five years.

Please contact me with any questions, and I will be happy to help with any preparations you need to bring in a new receptionist. My email is steve.lau@email.com, and my cell phone is 555-555-5555.

Sincerely,

Steve Lau (signature hard copy letter)

Steve Lau

If you plan on making any sort of legal claim against your employer (eg, for wrongful treatment, etc.), it may be best to add that to the list of things to avoid including in your letter.