Letter writing whether business or personal, is a skill we all need. It is the commonest mode of communication. Sometimes, these letters will be short and informal emails. It is different from other forms of writing because it is intended for a specific reader. Other times, they’ll be highly polished for corporate correspondence. A letter is written when something has to be conveyed to someone sitting far away. Writing requires imagination, creativity, careful planning and organisation. The language of the letter should be interactive.
While writing a letter
- Mention your intention of writing the letter in the opening paragraph.
- Divide your letter into paragraphs, to mark changes of subject matter.
- Include all the relevant information.
- Be courteous and gentle in your suggestions, even while writing a complaint.
- Keep your sentences short.
- Use simple English words. Use simple and direct language.
- Avoid spelling, grammatical and careless mistakes in your letter.
- Write neatly.
- Be accurate,brief and precise.
- Use the block format that has no indentation and is left aligned.
The aim of letter writing should be –
- The letter should fill the communication gap between two parties
- It should send out a message and express a feeling
- It should create awareness and provoke thought in the receiver’s mind
Each letter that is written can have different objectives, depending on its type. So, first let us understand the types of letter writing.
Types Of Letter Writing
Letter writing can be classified into two types:
- Informal Letter: also known as personal letters. Such types of letters are usually written to relatives, family, friends, or acquaintances. These letters may or may not have a concrete reason for writing. The aim of writing informal letters is to create a personal memoir. It need not adhere to any formalities or follow any set pattern.
- Formal Letters: The letters that follow a certain formality and set pattern are formal letters. Such letters are precise, directly addressing the concerned issue and are kept strictly professional in nature. Formal letters are short and to the point. A variety of letters that fall within the category of formal letters are –
- Business letters
- Official letters
- Social letters
- Circular letters
- Employment letters
Letter writing format of Informal Letters
While writing informal letters need to follow the below-mentioned format.
- Body of the letter
- Sender’s name and signature
- Address: The sender’s address is important in informal letters. Since informal letters are personal letters and sent to acquaintances or people who are known, the receivers’ address is only mentioned on the envelope carrying the letter.
- Date: Same as in a formal letter format.
- Salutation: in informal letters can be Dear/Dearest/ Hi/Hello followed by the first name/nickname of the recipient.
- Body: The body in the informal letters can be long and detailed containing diverse feelings, experiences, advice, news, etc.
- Sender’s name and signature are the same as in the formal letters.
Important points of Informal letter
- The subject line is not required in an Informal Letter.
- No prescribed format has to be strictly followed.
- The usage of language must be friendly and casual.
- The letter can have extra information, as per the sender’s choice.
Letter writing format of Formal Letter
A formal letter must adhere to the prescribed format. The letter writing format of a formal letter is as mentioned below:
- Sender’s address
- Receiver’s address
- Body of the letter
- Complimentary closure
- Signature line: sender’s name, signature and designation
- Sender’s Address: One of the most essential components, also known as the return address. It is the mailing address of the sender. The address and contact details of the person sending the letter are written here.
- Date: Immediately after the sender’s address comes the date on which the letter is written. While writing the letter in the exam, you can follow any of the formats to write the dates: DD/MM/YY OR MM/DD/YY.
- Receiver’s Address: The corresponding address, i.e. the address of the recipient of the mail is written here. A Letter must start with the receivers’ designation followed by the name of the organization and then the full address, Pincode and country (if the information is known).
- The subject: This highlights the aim of writing the letter. The subject of the formal letter should be very brief (6 to 8 words) and must be preceded by the word ‘Subject’. The receiver, through the subject, understands the purpose of the letter at a glance.
- Salutation: This is a customary greeting to the recipient of the letter. If the name of the recipient is known, the salutation starts with ‘Dear’ followed by Mr/Mrs/Miss, etc. If the person is unknown or even the gender is not known the recipient can be addressed as Dear Sir/Dear Madam.
- Body: The most important element of any letter. It furnishes the reason behind writing the letter. For formal letters, candidates should use short, clear, logical paragraphs to state the subject matter. The body of the letter is generally divided into 3 paragraphs:
- Introduction that states the main point.
- Middle part: Supporting points and details to justify the need and importance of letter writing.
- Conclusion: Request for some action or what is expected.
- Complimentary Closure: This is to end the letter with respect in a polite manner such as ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours sincerely’, etc.
- Signature Line: This is the last part where the sender of the letter signs off with his first or last name. The signature line may also include a second line for the title or designation of the sender.
While writing formal letters, remember the following points.
- Use of colloquial words, short forms, slang language and abbreviations are restricted.
- The letter must be to the point, precise and clearly indicating the message.
- The subject line is very important in Formal Letters.
Important Tips For Good Letter Writing
- Identify the type of letter they will write.
For example: writing a letter to the Principal asking for leave is a formal letter, but writing a letter to the Principal to catch up after a long time would be an informal letter.
- Opening and closing of letters must be in the correct manner. Formal letters must open and close in a professional manner while informal letters can be directly addressed to the person with greetings. Even closing the letters is significant. Formal letters always end respectfully and impersonally, whereas informal letters may end with a more personal touch.
- In formal letters, making clear the purpose of the letter immediately is important.
- A letter is always supposed to be considerate and polite. It is essential to use polite words and civil language in all types of letters, be it formal or informal. Even if the letter is about any complaint, the point must be made in a careful and courteous manner.
- The length of the letter also holds relevance. In formal letters, the matter should be expressed to the point, precise and short, while the length of the personal or informal letter depends on the message and the relation to the recipient.