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What Is a Letter of Intent?


A letter of intent is a short, one-page document outlining a proposal between two parties. The letter details proposed terms between two parties or expresses interest in a program. Except for specific business purposes such as a non-disclosure agreement, a letter of intent is not legally binding. These letters may also be referred to as a “letter of interest” or a “memorandum of understanding.” The different terms reflect the setting in which the letter of intent appears.

Types of Letters of Intent

Letters of intent come in different varieties, even though they ultimately express the same idea. Academia uses a letter of intent for a student to express interest in joining a specific academic program. Colleges and universities will use a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to cement a relationship between an athlete and their participation in an NCAA program. Businesses accept letters of intent to show a proposal between two parties such as for real estate, retirement, or exiting a lease.

Tips for Writing a Letter of Intent

This instrument should be concisely written using business formal language. Because a business letter format should be followed, the sender’s address and the recipient’s address should appear on the left side of the letter. When addressing the letter, avoid the greeting “To Whom It May Concern.” Determine the recipient of the letter and address the letter specifically to this person. The letter itself should have no more than three or four paragraphs, including an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. When signing the letter, the term “sincerely” or “respectfully” may be used, however, avoid any extremely friendly closing.

Most places that require a letter of intent will give guidelines to be included in the body of the letter. When a business or school issues guidelines, carefully read them and include that information. If the letter fails to contain this specific material, it may be disregarded in favor of a different proposal.



“What Is a Letter of Intent?”

Dernbach, John C.
“A practical guide to legal writing and legal method”

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