The writing style is the manner of expressing thought in language characteristic of an individual, period, school, or nation… Learn how to write a letter in formal and informal ways.
How to Write A Letter in English
A letter is a written message sent from one person to another through a medium such as email, snail mail, or facsimile. Letter writing is an important communication skill in both personal and professional settings.
There are different types of letters, including informal letters to friends and family and formal letters used in business and academic settings. Understanding the differences between informal and formal letters and the appropriate tone, language, and format to use is essential for effective letter writing.
- Write your full name and address even if it is an informal letter.
- Divide your letter into small paragraphs.
- Keep your writing simple.
- Make a good choice of words especially if you are writing an apology letter or a letter to express your condolences in case of a death.
- Most people close the letter with phrases like ‘Yours affectionately/With love/All the best/Take care’ etc.
Let us understand a few ground rules while writing formal letters:
- You need to write your full name, address, and date before you begin the letter
- Address the person you are writing the letter to with the correct name and designation.
- It is always advisable to start the letter with ‘Respected Sir/Madam’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and then mention the name and the address.
- Before beginning to write the letter you must state the purpose of the letter in one line titled ‘Subject’.
- Your letter should be very crisp giving out only the information which is required.
Informal Letter Writing
Informal letters, also known as personal letters, are written to friends, family, or acquaintances. The tone of informal letters is personal and friendly, and the language used is less formal than in formal letters.
Characteristics of Informal Letters
- Personal, friendly tone
- Use of first name or nickname
- Contractions and informal vocabulary
- Less formal grammar and sentence structure
- May include personal anecdotes and emotional language
Tips for Writing Informal Letters
- Start with a friendly greeting, such as “Dear [Name],”
- Use a personal and conversational tone
- Avoid formal language and technical terms
- Use contractions, such as “can’t” instead of “cannot”
- Share personal news and feelings
- End with a friendly closing, such as “Take care,” or “Love,” followed by your signature and name.
In informal letters, it’s important to be yourself and write in a way that reflects your relationship with the recipient.
Formal Letter Writing
Formal letters are used in professional or academic settings, and they require a more formal tone and language. Formal letters typically follow a specific format and may include specific information such as addresses, dates, and reference numbers.
Characteristics of Formal Letters
- Professional, respectful tone
- Use of formal vocabulary and grammar
- Use of titles (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.) and surname
- Specific format, including heading, date, reference number, and clear structure
- Avoidance of contractions and colloquial language
Tips for Writing Formal Letters
- Start with a formal greeting, such as “Dear Sir/Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern,”
- Use a professional tone and avoid emotional language
- Follow a specific format, including a heading with your address, the date, and the recipient’s address
- Use formal language, proper grammar, and proper punctuation
- Include a reference number, if applicable
- End with a formal closing, such as “Yours sincerely,” or “Sincerely,” followed by your signature and typed name.
In formal letters, it’s important to be clear, concise, and professional. Make sure to use the appropriate tone and language, and follow the format and structure to ensure your message is taken seriously.
Differences between Informal and Formal Letters
Main differences: tone, language, and structure
The layout of informal and formal letters
The layout of informal and formal letters can also vary. Here are some of the key differences in layout between the two types of letters:
- Greeting: Start with a personal greeting, such as “Dear [Name],”
- Body: May have a less structured format, with paragraphs or bullet points
- Signature: End with a friendly closing, such as “Take care,” or “Love,” followed by your signature and name.
- Heading: Includes your address, the date, and the recipient’s address
- Greeting: Start with a formal greeting, such as “Dear Sir/Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern,”
- Body: Follows a clear structure, including an introduction, main body, and conclusion
- Signature: End with a formal closing, such as “Yours sincerely,” or “Sincerely,” followed by your signature and typed name.
It’s important to follow the appropriate format for your letter, as it helps to ensure that your message is clear, concise, and professional.
How to Start and End a Letter
Starting and ending a letter appropriately is important, as it sets the tone for the rest of the letter and leaves a lasting impression on the recipient.
Starting a Letter
- Informal letter: Start with a personal greeting, such as “Dear [Name],”
- Formal letter: Start with a formal greeting, such as “Dear Sir/Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern,”
- Informal letter: End with a friendly closing, such as “Take care,” or “Love,” followed by your signature and name.
- Formal letter: End with a formal closing, such as “Yours sincerely,” or “Sincerely,” followed by your signature and typed name.
In both informal and formal letters, make sure to include your signature, as it gives your letter a personal touch and provides proof of your authorship.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Letter
When writing a letter, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can detract from the professionalism and clarity of your message. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:
- Incorrect format: Make sure to follow the appropriate format for your letter, whether it’s informal or formal.
- Spelling and grammar errors: Check your letter for spelling and grammar errors, as these can make you appear unprofessional.
- Unclear message: Make sure your message is clear and concise. Avoid using overly complex language or lengthy explanations.
- Unprofessional tone: Avoid using emotional language or making personal attacks. In formal letters, make sure to use a professional tone.
- Improperly addressing the recipient: Make sure to use the correct title and surname for the recipient, and avoid using overly familiar language unless it’s appropriate for the relationship.
- Omitting important information: Make sure to include all relevant information, such as addresses, dates, and reference numbers, in your letter.
- Not proofreading: Always proofread your letter before sending it to catch any mistakes or typos.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your letter is professional, clear, and effective in communicating your message.