Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of e-mail and text messages, letters are one of the most important and popular means of communication. Commerce, trade, official correspondence, public representation, complaints and other dealings, transactions and communication with people are still conducted through letters.
Main Parts of Letters
According to the latest/modern/box-type format, the heading is written at the left hand corner. The sender’s name is never written in the heading; only the address is included.
This portion includes the sender’s full address. While writing the address, one must not use ‘comma’ at the end of each line.
Writing ‘Examination Hall’ as the address must be avoided under all circumstances. If the address is not provided in the question, then you may create a fictitious address.
It appears directly below the sender’s address, after leaving some space. Always write out the full date.
e.g., 12th December, 2019
This consists of the words of greeting and is written on the left-hand side of the paper against the margin below the line of the date.
It is never followed by a comma and no other word is written on that line.
The form of greeting depends upon your relation to the person to whom the letter is being written, e.g.,
To Near Relatives : My Dear Dad, Dear Mummy, Dear Uncle, Dear Aunt, Dear Grandma
To Friends : Dear Manoj, Dear Preeti
To Acquaintances : Dear Mr Sen, Dear Miss Smith
To Unknown Persons (Formal letters) : Dear Sir/Madam, Respected Sir/Madam, Sir/Madam
We never write ‘Dear friend’ but we use names e.g., Dear Manoj. It is also advisable not to write ABC, XYZ etc in place of the name.
This is the main part of the letter. This is written in response to the topic given, in simple and direct language. Imagine that you are writing to a real person on a real subject, even if it is a classroom exercise. The style should be lucid and natural . The body should be divided into paragraphs (about 150-200 words) which include introduction, information and conclusion.
The body includes three main parts
- Introductory Paragraph/Sentence – States the purpose of writing.
- Information Paragraph/Paragraphs – Gives details of the problem, cause, effect, possible solutions etc.
- Concluding Paragraph/Sentence – States your hope, comment, request etc.
It is a courteous way of ending the letter. The expression used must match the salutation.
a) For Friends, write
- Yours affectionately/ yours ever / yours (For close friends you can use ‘Love’)
b) For Family Members, write
- Yours affectionately/ lovingly
- Your affectionate daughter/ son/ brother /sister
c) For Relatives, write
- Yours sincerely
- Yours affectionately
- Your affectionate uncle/ cousin / aunt
d) For Business Partners / Customers / Acquaintances, write
- Yours sincerely/ faithfully/ truly
It is written just below ‘complimentary close’ and includes the sender’s name, signature or both.
Types of Letters
Letters are categorised into two types:
a) Formal Letters (Official/ business letters to officials, business partners, customers, colleagues, acquaintances, letters to Editor, municipality, etc).
b) Informal Letters (Personal letters to friends, relatives, acquaintances)
These letters are written to post holding persons/ a person who holds a designation like Postmaster, Health Inspector, Police Superintendent, Newspaper Editor, Station Master, School Principal, Municipal Corporation Chairman etc.
These letters are written in a crisp and clear pattern and a matter of fact style. These letters can be written to an individual/firm. The language is formal, straightforward and to the point.
Different Kinds of Formal Letters
Business Letters : These include letters of enquiry/asking for information, replying to letters received, placing orders and sending acknowledgement, cancelling orders.
Official Letters : These include letters of complaint, making enquiries, making requests/appeals.
Letter to the Editor : To give suggestions on a public interest issue.
Letter to Job Application : This written to apply for job. A bio-data is enclosed focusing on qualifications and skills.
Letter to the Principal : This is written to request for permission, leave, to make a complaint etc.
Purpose of Writing Formal Letters
The main purpose of writing a formal letter are:
- to voice your opinion in case of Letter to the Editor.
- to get your problems addressed.
- to inform.
- to complain about or against someone. Many complaints are validated by recording facts in letters.
- to place an order, seek information, enquire, send reply, sell products etc.
Things to keep in mind while writing a Formal Letter
An individual should keep the following points in his/her mind while writing formal letters/official letters.
- Be polite and formal.
- It should start by introducing yourself and describing the purpose of writing.
- Briefly describe about what you want to convey through the letter, give complete information along with necessary details like date, reference number, etc.
- Conclude with a hope/appeal/warning/suggestion, as required.
- If you are writing to an authority about a problem in your area, briefly give its details and seek or suggest a solution.
- In Letter to the Editor, do not ask the Editor to solve your problem. He/She can only give voice to your opinion, views, suggestions etc.
- Word limit of 150-200 words should be kept in mind.
Informal letters have their own distinct style. Actually it is up to the person who is writing the letter to decide how friendly or pleasant he/she is to be while expressing his/her feelings. It also depends upon the bond he/she shares with the person to whom the letter is sent.
Purpose of Writing Informal Letter
The main purposes of writing an informal letter are:
- to express feelings and emotions.
- to stay in contact with family and friends.
- to send invitations, replies, thanksgiving etc.
- to make personal complaints.
- to communicate by expressing sympathy, feeling sorry, congratulating someone etc.
Things to keep in mind while writing a Formal Letter
An individual should keep the following points in his/her mind while writing informal letter/personal letters.
- An informal letter should be polite and creative.
- It should be written in such a way that the person who is reading the letter should feel that you are talking to him/her.
- Casual or everyday expression can be used.
- Rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar must be adhered to.