How to Write A Letter?: Letters have been around for many years. Even before the invention of technology, people used to communicate with letters. There are some rules which must be followed when writing and sending a letter.
Have you been avoiding writing to your friend because you are not well-versed with how to write a letter to your friend? Letters must be written by following the correct format. How to write a letter to your friend is different from how to write a letter to your boss.
In this article, we have listed the format, types, things to remember letter writing examples, and tips that will help an individual write a letter.
How to Write A Letter?
- What is a letter?
- Types of letters
- Choosing and writing the correct format
- What is PostScript or P.S.?
- The envelope
- Tips for writing a letter
- Summing up
A written message which is either handwritten or printed is a letter. It is generally sent to the recipient through mail or post in an envelope (even though it’s not a requirement). Any written conversation between two parties can be made by a letter.
Due to the advantages of technology, emails are texts, a type of digital communication mode – the letter-writing art has taken a backseat. However, to date, all the documentation and official work are done by letter. Whether it is addressing the higher authorities of your company, or a college acceptance letter, or a job appointment letter are still carried out by a written letter. Thus, we need to learn the intricacies of writing a letter.
The primary type of letters is – formal and informal. However, there are a few types in which letters can be classified, depending on the content of any letter. Listed below are some types of letters.
- Formal letter – The letters in which a particular pattern and formality are maintained. These letters are strictly professional in nature and address the concerned issues directly.
- Informal letter – These letters are personally written to close people. There are not any set rules that are needed to be followed. They are written as a conversation and contain personal information.
- Official letter – These kinds of letters are written for informing offices, subordinates, branches about official information. It generally relays official information such as procedure, rules, regulations, events, performance or any such information.
- Business letter – These letters are written among business correspondents, usually containing commercial information like orders, quotations, claims, complaints, letters for collection etc. These letters are always formal, following a pattern and structure of formalities.
- Social letter – Social letters are personal letters written during the occasion of any special events. Condolence letters, congratulatory letters, invitation letters are all social letters.
- Employment letter – Any letter which deals with the employment process of an individual, such as a promotional letter, joining letter, application letter, appointment letter, transfer letter, are all examples of employment letters.
- Circular letter – Circular letters are used for announcing any information to a large number of people. The letter is circulated among a large group of people about information like a change of address, change of management, retirement of any member etc.
Having the knowledge about how to write a letter is highly crucial. Among all the types mentioned above, there are mainly two types of letters – formal and informal. Listed below is an essential guide on how to put together a letter and when to write in which format.
Writing an informal letter
Decide how formal you want to sound in the letter
How one chooses to write a letter depends on their relationship with the recipient. Generally, when we write an informal letter, it is written to someone we know personally, such as our friends and family.
- If writing to any family member or a friend, a handwritten letter or email are both fine – whatever works for you and the recipient.
- If writing to any distant relative or any social acquaintance, write a semi-formal letter. If you have received emails from them before, emails will work as well, but if not, then handwritten is safer. However, due to the advancement of technology, writing an email is much faster and easier.
Start your letter with a salutation
The salutation that one uses in their letter depends on their relationship with the recipient of the letter along with the formality of the letter.
- If one is writing an informal letter, they can use ‘Hello’ or ‘Dear’ as well as other informal greetings like ‘Hey’ or ‘Hi’. Also, follow it with the recipient’s first name.
- When writing a semiformal type of letter, one can use ‘Hello’ or ‘Dear’ as a salutation. They can either use the first name of their recipient or the courtesy title such as Mr. or Ms.
Start the letter
Move to the following line of the letter and start with it. When writing a personal letter, begin by asking about the recipient’s well-being. This could be as informal as “How’s it going?” or as formal as “I hope you’re doing well”. Imagine the person is in front of you and start the letter in the same way.
Writing the body of an informal letter
The body or the main content of the informal letter is up to what you want to talk about. The content is going to vary according to what the writer wants to communicate, but focusing on some general points is necessary.
- Offer pleasantries – One can write things like “Congrats on your adorable baby” or “I hope you and your family are doing well.”
- Don’t ramble – Even informal letters must not be going on for paragraphs after paragraphs. Your recipient might feel bored or lose interest in reading the letter. Stick to the point, have a clear focus.
- Share any interesting news – Usually, one writes a casual letter to share any new information or details which are of mutual interest for both parties.
- Be mindful about the recipient of your letter – Keep the content and tone appropriate for the recipient to understand. Writing a letter to your college friend is going to be different from the letter that you will be writing to your grandmother.
End the letter
When ending an informal letter, one must reflect on their relationship with the recipient. If you will be writing the letter to your close friend, spouse, or close family member, you can use ‘Fondly’, ‘Affectionately’ or ‘Love’.
Writing a formal letter
Learn about when to write a formal letter
One should write a formal letter when they are addressing someone only known for professional capacity. This includes letters that are written to businesses, your boss, governmental employees, or any organization.
- When writing to any governmental organization, the letters must be printed. When urgent, the letter can also be written in the form of an email.
- When addressing a co-worker or current boss, one can choose to be less formal. Email is generally acceptable.
Write your name and that day’s date at the top of the page.
Write your name, that day’s date and your address on the top left corner of the page. If you are writing the letter to any business organization, use the name of the company and address instead.
Example – Hazel Grace
121, Lee Road
Kolkata – 700010
Follow the following line add the date. One can format the date in a number of ways, following the address.
Example – December 15, 2020
Continue the letter with the recipient’s name and address.
Once you have added your credentials, add the name and the address of the recipient from the date. Adding all this information will ensure that the letter can be used as a reference for contacting the sender after the recipient discards the envelope.
Example – Business Corporation
58 Maple Street
Culver City, CA 94104
Write the salutation
Skip a line and add a greeting for the recipient with ‘Dear’ or ‘Respected’ followed by their name. One can choose to use the full name or last name but never the first name alone. Also, use an abbreviated professional title if needed.
- In case you know about the job title of the recipient, you can write ‘Respected Health Minister’ or a similar phrase.
- If you don’t know or have the particular contact, write ‘Respected Ma’am or Sir’ or ‘To whom it may concern.
Writing the body of the formal letter.
Even though the body of each letter is different and the information varies as well, there are a few things one must keep in mind when writing it.
- Stick to the point – Business letters must have a clear objective.
- Avoid using short-forms – Write all the words entirely.
- Be mindful – Don’t write anything that you are going to regret.
- Proofread – Errors are very common when writing letters, and they can cause misunderstandings.
Each subhead must be contained in one paragraph. Keep the paragraphs short, which will help you stay focused. Aim for no more than four sentences in any paragraph, keeping any sentence concise.
End your letter with a complimentary close
Ending the letter with a complimentary ending is going to help end the letter on a good note and establish a connection with the recipient. For formal letter stick with ‘Best wishes’, ‘Kindest regards’ or ‘Sincerely yours’. Also, don’t forget to sign underneath the close, authorizing the letter.
Example – Sincerely
- In a formal letter, type the sender’s full name following the complimentary close.
- For formal typed letters, leave four spaces between the complimentary close and sender’s typed full name. Print the letter, and sign your name in black or blue ink in the blank space.
- The sender can also courtesy title (such as Mr Mrs Ms.) for themselves when they put their name at the end of the formal letter.
When one wants to add something last minute when the letter is complete, they add it in this section. Generally, people don’t add postscripts informal letters. It is added to informal letters. In a formal letter, if there is anything that must be added, then the sender will have to revise the whole document.
Example – P.S: Jenna finally got her dream job! Thank you for all your best wishes.
Putting the letter in an envelope is one of the last things one needs to do before sending the letter. The envelope is going to make sure that your letter is intact. On the envelope, you need to write the address of the recipient. Find the envelope’s centre, both width wise and lengthwise. There you will write the full address of the recipient.
Also, mention the return address on the envelope. If, in any case, the postal service is unable to deliver your letter, they will have to return it to you.
Now that you have learned about the techniques of writing a letter, here are some tips which will help you in the process.
- Identify your audience and the information being conveyed.
Identifying your audience will help your audience will help you decide whether the letter is going to be a formal one or an informal one. The information being is going to determine if the letter is going to be a business or circulatory or employment or social letter.
- Establish the primary intent of the letter
Make sure you don’t ramble and get to your point as soon as possible. Mainly formal letters, it is necessary to stay focused.
- Length of the letter
Length letters can become monotonous for the reader. Formal letters, if lengthy, are not going to have the desired effect on the recipient. Informal letters could be lengthier depending on the message on is trying to convey.
Even with the advancement of technology, letters are an integral part of our lives. It helps us stay connected with our near and dear ones as well as address the people from any organizations or business. Following the correct format will ensure that your recipient understands the content of the letter. Following the format listed above for formal and informal letters will ensure that one writes a correct letter.