Letter Writing Guide: Informal/Formal

Letter writing is a dying art – but there are still many occasions where writing a letter is completely appropriate, if not necessary. Whether it’s formal or informal, everybody appreciates a well thought-out letter and can make a positive impact on someone’s impression of you. Today we will be discussing different types of letters, when it’s appropriate to use them, and different samples. Let’s get started!


Informal Letter Writing

When would you write an informal letter? You would probably write an informal letter to a family or friend, or someone else who you are well-acquainted with. You might write an informal letter when you’re saying thank you, sending an invitation, sending your condolences, catching up with someone or even just saying hi!

Here is the general format of an informal letter.

(1) Return Address Line 
(2) Date (Month Day, Year) 

(3) Dear (Name of Recipient):

(4)Body Paragraph 1 (This is generally the introduction of the letter. This is where you           disclose why you’re writing the letter.)

(5)       Body Paragraph 2  (This is the main content of your letter)

(6)       Body Paragraph 3 (This is where you start to end your letter)
(7) Closing (Sincerely, Best, Love…)

(8) Signature

If you’re anything like me, you like to look at examples and compare them to your own piece of work. These are just samples, so feel free to personalize your writing and make it your own. Here are some informal letter writing samples:


Formal Letter Writing

When would write a formal letter? Well, when you want to communicate on a professional level with another party. There are many different reasons to write a business letter (we will get into that letter). But generally they should be typed out – this shows more professionalism. You need to clear and concise in your writing. Remember that those who are reading your letter are usually business professionals, and they don’t have the time to read through a letter that takes too long to get to the point. Be clear, concise, respectful and professional all throughout your letter.

Here is the general business/formal letter format.

(1) Return Address Line 1 
(2) Return Address Line 2

(3) Date (Month Day, Year)

(4) Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. (Full name of the recipient)
(5) Title/Position of Recipient 
(6) Company Name
(7) Recipient’s Address Line

(8) Dear Ms./Mrs./Mr. Last Name: 

(9) Subject: Title of Subject (This is optional, but it helps the reader to know what the letter is about without having to read through the letter)

(10) Body Paragraph 1 (Let the reader know why you’re writing this letter, and briefly introduce yourself)

(11) Body Paragraph 2 (This will be the main content of your letter)

(12) Body Paragraph 3 (This is where you start to end your letter and briefly summarize your letter, why you’re writing or what you want)

(13) Closing (Sincerely…),

(14) Signature (Sign in blue or black pen)

(15) Your Name (Printed)
(16) Your Title 

(17) Enclosures (2) (This is only if you have document’s other than the letter itself. If there’s more than one document, include the number of documents beside the word enclosure)

Again there are many different reasons you’d need to write a business letter, and you may want to compare your content with other examples. We’ll go through the different kinds of business letters with a link to a sample letter.


Writing Tips

Remember to always check over your letter for grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. If at all possible, read it out loud. When you read it out loud, you’re more likely to notice writing mistakes.

When you’re writing a letter, be yourself – even if you’re writing a formal letter. You want the reader of the letter to get to know who you are. Also remember to keep in mind the person you’re writing to, and use language that would be most appealing to them.

If you’re writing a business email remain professional and respectful, even if it is a letter of complaint. Keep your letter on one page. If your letter is going to be longer than one page long, you need to use another page (don’t use the back of the paper).

Hopefully, these tips will successfully help you write any kind of letter!


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