Tips on How to Write a Letter
A letter is a written communication addressed to an individual or an organization. Letter writing is a common exercise in life. Whether you are a student, employee or employer, you need to know how to write a letter. Do not assume anything; equip yourself with these skills, which could guarantee you a job or save your organization.
When writing a letter, decide the type of letter you want to deliver. Ensure you understand how formal you want the correspondence to be. Importantly, the format, content and structure of your letter will depend on how you relate with the addressee. For example, keep the letter as formal as possible when writing to a potential employer, government official, academic official or any person you wish to establish a professional relationship with in future.
Guidelines on How to Write a Letter
Handwritten or email: When writing a formal letter, the mode of delivery is important. Previously, handwritten letters were common before advent of the internet, which allows sending electronic mails or emails. The mode you choose signifies the level of formality in the communication.
If your letter is formal, type and send through the post. You may choose to use email in case your letter is extremely urgent. Also, know the preference of the recipient, as some prefer postal communication while others are comfortable with emails.
Before you figure out how to write a letter, read and understand the instructions carefully. Some organizations specify the mode of sending your letter. Stick to the receiver’s instructions at all cost. For informal letters, you are at liberty to decide which method to use. Always remember that informal communication involves exchanging messages with familiar people.
For semi-official letters, call the recipient and confirm their preferred mode. In case you are responding to an earlier message, use the same method your boss used. Where you have doubts, go for handwritten letters.
Note that letters vary in length. For example, a formal letter could be a few lines. At the same time, depending on the nature of the letter, it could be more than one page and run into several pages.
How to Address a Formal Letter Professionally
Having a correct address is important as you puzzle out how to write a letter. All business letters have the sender and receiver’s addresses, clearly spelt out. Organizations prefer using letterheads, which bear its contact information. Alternatively, your address should come at the top of the letter.
There is no harm in customizing your letterhead using the MS Word program in case you want to appear more professional.
Know the content of your address. Your street address should come on the first line of the address, followed by the city and ZIP code.
Indicate the date immediately after your address, by leaving two blank lines from the address. You may also start with date. The date and address should be justified to the left, whether it appears to the top right or left of the paper.
Writing a Letter with Correct Format
Having a guide on how to write a letter makes letter-writing interesting. Business letter tend to have a similar format. Whether you are writing a job application letter or a resignation letter, you must adhere to professional standards. Having the correct letter format affirms your level of professionalism and your seriousness with what you are communicating.
When writing letters, capture the recipient’s details including, full names, title and the address. This information should come after the date, with two blank lines separating them. Get the spelling of the addressees’ details. Misspelling his or her name could tell how ignorant you are.
Order of addresses:
133 First Avenue Road
New Employee Town, IL 1325 sender’s address
June 16, 2001 (Date)
1235 Weston Lab Lane recipient’s address
New York City, NY 156
Retrieved from owl.english.purdue.edu.
The addresses in the above template show what to capture when addressing official letters.
For handwritten letters, indicating the receiver’s address is optional as long you capture it correctly on the envelope. In case you are writing an inquiry letter and you do not have a contact person at the firm, the company’s name and address are sufficient.
Writing a Salutation in a Letter without offending the receiver
Knowing how to write a letter starts with having the right salutation. Remember that no one wants his or her gender to be mistaken. Always start your letter with a salutation. Salutations vary and depend on your relationship with the addressee. It may also depend on the degree of formality of your letter.
Let us look at common salutations:
To Whom It May Concern: This is when you are not writing to a specific addressee. It is common when recommending someone for a job and gives the person freedom to deliver to all potential employers.
Dear Sir(s) or Dear Madam(s): It is one of the commonly used salutations. It cuts across formal and informal letters. This is when you know the genders of the recipient but you are not sure of their names or you simply do not know. Use this with a lot of caution because you do not want to offend the receiver before reading your letter.
Dear. This is the safest salutation especially when you do not have a contact person. In case you feel that ‘dear’ sounds affectionate and you are not comfortable, use the addressee’s name with a courtesy title like ‘Mrs. Smith… ’
Dear or Hello. Use either of these salutations when writing semi-official letters. You can also use them in informal letters. Other casual salutations are Hi, Hey etc.
How to Write a Letter with a catchy Introduction
Like in any other write-up, the introduction of a letters matters a lot. This is what will make the recipient read your letter to the end or discard it ASAP. It is probably the hardest step since you do not know the person’s mood when she or he is receiving the letter.
Mastering the art of how to write a letter, can be a challenge if you do not understand the rules. For informal letters, starting a letter is simple. Start by asking the receiver’s well-being. This could be something like ‘How is the going?’ or ‘I hope you are well.’
Always remember that time is money and every word counts. Start your formal letter by hitting directly to the point. You do not want to appear as if you are wasting the time of the HR manager or CEO when he or she has an endless list of tasks. Do not beat around the bush!
In this complaint letter, the writer starts by saying the reason for the communication. “I am writing to make a formal complaint…” This makes it clear to the recipient what the sender is talking from on set.
To have the best introduction, understand what you want to communicate. Remember the main objective of any letter is to pass a massage to the addressee. Ask yourself the kind of information the recipient should get and include it in your letter. Focus on sharing information exhaustively to get relevant feedback.
Letter writing is not about filling a page or paragraph. The words you use could injure your reputation or make you the best applicant for that job. Know what to avoid in the letter. However, you may have a lot to say, capture that which is important. Do not express anger or seek pity in your letter. In case you have such a letter on your desk or in your draft folder, give it a second chance. You will definitely see something to change.
How to end a Formal Letter and get a good response
After writing your letter, proofread to eliminate all the errors. Reread it several times and confirm that it communicates what you intend to. You may also request a friend or expert to help you fine-tune by suggesting any changes.
Use a complimentary close when ending your letter. This helps to establish a link with the recipient. It comes immediately after your last paragraph. Leave two blank lines and pen it. For instance, say, ‘Best Wishes.’
Sample Letter from here is a sample of a formal Letter.
Name of the writer,
Designation of writer,
Address of company.
Date of letter.
Designation of receiver,
Address of company.
This letter is a confirmation of tomorrow’s dinner as we celebrate my son’s academic excellence. We are glad that you allowed us to use your facility.
Enclosed is the final payment as we agreed
‘Best wishes’, ‘sincerely yours’, or ‘Kindest regards’ are common complimentary closes when writing a formal letter.
Here is another example showing how to write a letter with a good ending:
CEO, Clarks Ltd
Friday, July 10, 2015
This letter is a response to a chat we had last week on how to strengthen the brands of our products in Texas and New York.
We have finalized paperwork and ready to sign the deal next week on Monday at InterCon Hotel.
I hope the new deal will see our companies realize good performance as I look forward to your response.
Retrieved from letters.org.
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