What is Letter Writing?

Letter writing is a significant channel of correspondence between two individuals or groups who lives in different geography. Earlier, when the phone and email were not invented, the lone method for correspondence between individuals was through letters.  The main objective of letter writing is to share news, information and greetings.

What is Letter Writing

A letter is a composed message that can be manually written or imprinted on paper and writing a letter is an expertise or skill that is to be leaned or developed. It includes proper structuring of the letter, writing the key purpose precisely and maintaining a correct format of letter while curating it. Generally, there are two types of  letters i.e. formal and informal. A formal letter is composed or written for any official and business communication and informal letter are all those personal letters which are being used to communicate with friends and family. 

LETTER WRITING

'Letter writing' is an art. It is nowadays an essential part of life - personal as well as professional. It is one of the important arts of civilized life. It is an art that every educated man should develop. We have to write many letters in our day-to-day life. Hence, it is desirable to know what makes these letters attractive and impactful. The value of a good letter is great, both in business and in personal correspondence. A good letter never fails to impress. A badly written letter may even lead to misunderstanding.

A letter is a substitute for the conversation. It is nothing but speaking with a pen. It should, therefore, be as simple in form and natural in style as if the writer were actually speaking to the addressee.

The objective of a letter writer is to convey a message to the person at the receiving end, there being no personal contact. It is, therefore, natural that language should be simple, clear and concise.

The style of a letter should be adapted to the person and the subject concerned. To superiors, it should be respectful; to juniors, courteous to friends, familiar to relations, affectionate to children, simple and playful. On important subjects, it should be logical and impressive; lighter subjects, easy and flowing; tender and sympathetic for condolence lively and joyous for congratulations. In business letters, politeness and tact are very important while in personal letters, sincerity is the highest virtue.

It is, therefore, essential to learn not only the technique but also the art of writing letters through constant practice

Some Important Point to Focus In Letter Writing :

1. Write as you speak. Your letter should be in the nature of a conversation.

2. Adopt a familiar style for those who are intimate, but write in a formal

3. Use a suitable beginning before you start with the actual letter.

4. Write what you have to say-clearly, briefly and precisely.

5. Be courteous and tactful. Avoid offending.

6. Avoid boring remarks. Better do away with hackneyed phrases

7. Never fail to date your letter

8. A student should write in a simple and clear language. The style of a letter depends on the nature of  its Contents. Private letters should be in the conversational style: business letters, short, concise and to the point and official letters, formal and dignified.

9. Correct spellings are equally desirable even in the most familiar forms of correspondence. A letter should be legible, grammatically correct and rightly spelt.

10. Avoid bad punctuation which is often the cause of obscurity

Kinds of Letters

There are generally two kinds of letters:

1. Personal/ Private/ Informal Letters

2. Official/ Formal Letters

  1. Personal Letters: These letters are written to friends and relatives. These letters include notes of invitation, letters of congratulation, condolence, recommendation, introduction, request, etc.
  2. Official Letters: They are written to officials of government and similar public bodies. Letters of complaint and information to officials, applications for jobs and other similar letters come under this category
  3. Note : Business Letters are also treated as official letters.

Kinds of Letter Writing

Types of Letter Writing:

Letter writing can be distinguished on the basis of their content, formalities, purpose, etc.  Hence, types of letter writing are broadly classified into two types: formal letter writing and informal letter writing.

  1. What is Formal Letter Writing?

Formal letter writing is used to write letters to business houses, customers, government officials, school/college authorities, editors, colleagues, strangers and acquaintances. As the term itself indicates, a formal letter is written in a formal style i.e. its language and tone is formal, impersonal or objective but pleasant. Therefore, it precludes any informal expressions, greetings or contracted forms of words. The language is straight forward and to the point. Though at times a formal letter may be strongly worded, it is never rude or impolite.

Types of Formal Letter Writing:

Following are the few types of Formal Letters:

  1. Business letter: These letters can be written to an employer of the same company, by an employer to his employee, to the suppliers or other business partners, and to the customers.
  2. Application letter: These letters are written to apply for a position within an organisation or an institution. Application Letters can be written for many purposes like, job application letters to apply for jobs, college application letters for admissions and leave application letters to apply for leaves etc.
  3. Recommendation Letter: Such letters are required by the employer/authority to know more about the employee/applicant from a different perspective. Recommendation letters are written by the people who are in a good relationship with the employee/applicant to get an all round view of the person.
  4. Inquiry Letter: This letters are used to ask direct and detailed questions usually bullet-listed to derive/request information from the recipient.
  5. Resignation Letter: These letters are written by an employee who wishes to leave his or her job. This letter is sent to the immediate superior of the employee you wish to resign.
  6. Invitation Letter: Such letters are written to invite and urge the receivers to attend a party or a meeting organized by the sender.
  7. Order Letter: Such letters are sent by a consumer and received by a supplier in order to ask the supplier for a certain amount of products.
  8. Sales Letter: These letters are intended to get the reader to purchase an advertised product. Usually persuasive statements are used to attract the attention of the prospective buyer and to increase sales.
  9. Dismissal Letter: There are issued when a company wishes to inform one of its employees that they no longer require their services, so they must leave their position.
  10. Transfer Letter: These are issued by an organization or company to inform one of its employees that they will be transferred from one department or headquarter to another.
  11. Apology Letter: It is issued when the sender wishes to apologize for any action that has brought negative consequences for the receiver.
  12. Congratulation Letter: These letters can be written for different reasons like, promotion letters for a promotion at work, for winning a prize at school, for participating in a competition.

What is Informal Letter Writing?

Informal letter writing is used to write letters to relatives and friends. Since such letters are personal in nature. They should be written in a simple, clear, easy to understand, natural and lively style just as one talks to a friend/relative.

Types of Informal Letter Writing:

Following are the few types of Formal Letters:

  1. Personal Letter: In such letters, you share and express your feelings with your friend, relative or your spouse. For example: letter to propose someone.
  2. Letter inquiring about the health: One may inquire about the well-being of a friend or relativeby writing a letter to them.
  3. Letter of invitation: One may write a letter to a friend or relative to invite him/her to a party, wedding or any informal function. For example, party invitation letter or birthday invitation letter etc.
  4. Letter to inform about the sudden demise of someone: These letters are written  to inform about an unexpected passing away of a family member, friend or relative which has left behind a devastated family.
  5. Letter to congratulate: Such letters are written to congratulate someone on his/her accomplishments, anniversary, birthday, success in career, etc.
  6. Letter to seek help: These letters are written to ask for help from a relative, friend or any acquaintance.
  7. Letter sent along with a personalized gift: Such letters are written to show love or gratitude and are sent along with an attached gift for a friend, relative or spouse.
  8. Letter written to plan a weekend or vacation with friends: These letters are written to friend(s) for planning a vacation or weekend out.
  9. Letter written to apologize for a mistake: Such Letters are written to a friend, relative or acquaintance to apologizing for a mistake made or a misunderstanding that would have sprung up between the sender and the receiver of the letter.

Letter Writing Format and its Importance:

A letter writing format is the most essential part in writing a letter. It makes the letter look well organized and enables it to express the meaning more explicitly to the recipient. It is, therefore, a substantial part that the sender should never compromise with. The entire structuring of a letter depends upon its format. Following are the letter writing formats for both Formal and Informal letter writing:

Formal Letter Writing Format                                                                                        

A sample of letter writing format for formal letter is given below:

 

     Senders address (with pin code)

     _________________

     _________________

     _________________

 

     Date: ____________

 

     (Designation of the recipient),

     (Name of the organization/company),

     Receiver’s address (with pin code)

     _________________

     _________________

     _________________

 

     Sir/Madam, (Salutation)

 

     Subject: _____________________________________________.

 

     BODY

  • Paragraph 1: ___________________________________

         (Give reasons for writing).

  • Paragraph 2: ___________________________________

(Explain the details, facts and figures and do not use short forms.)

  • Paragraph 3: ______________________________.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

        (Concluding remarks/ suggestions/ asking help)

 

     Yours sincerely, (Closing salutation)

     Your name and signature

     Designation (if any)

 

Informal Letter Writing Format:

A sample format for informal letter writing is given below:

 

Sender’s Name & Address

__________________

__________________

__________________

 

Date _____________

 

Dear__________ (Name of the recipient),   (Salutation)

 

BODY

  • Paragraph 1: I hope my letter finds you in good health. ____________________________.

Write about the purpose of writing. You can use an informal tone.)

  • Paragraph 2: _____________________________________.

(Write in detail about the purpose.)

  • Paragraph 3: _____________________________________.

(Concluding lines)

 

Yours affectionately, (Complimentary closing)

 

Your name.

 

 

Letter Writing Terms:

 

LETTER WRITING TERMS

DEFINITION/DESCRIPTION

FORMAT

  • General plan or arrangement of the different parts of the letter that distinguish it from other forms of writing e.g. an article or a speech.

LAYOUT

  • It is the physical appearance of a letter i.e. the way different parts of a letter have been arranged on paper.

AMERICAN BLOCK-FORM

  • An arrangement of the text of a letter with a uniform left margin and paragraphs without indented opening lines.

TONE

  • Level of formality in the attitude and politeness of sender depending upon the kind of relationship she/he has with the receiver.

FORMAL

  • A style of writing that is suitable for official or important occasions.

SEMI-FORMAL

  • A discrete combination of formal and informal tones/styles of writing a letter.

INFORMAL

  • A style of writing that is suitable for personal or friendly letters.

DATE

  • Information about the day, month, and the year on which a letter is written.

ADDRESS

  • Information about the location of the sender's /receiver's residence or office.

ZIP CODE

  • Also called a post-code, it is a group of numbers and/or letters that are used to identify a particular area/locality for faster sorting and delivery of mail.

SALUTATION

  • Words used to address a recipient of a letter. For Example - Dear followed by recipient’s Name or title.

SUBJECT

  • A statement of the topic of a formal letter i.e. what it is about.

BODY

 

  • The message that a letter conveys. It may vary in length from a single to several paragraphs.

 

  • Paragraph 1: We should first write the introductory statements, which should be regarding our own introduction and the purpose of the letter written briefly.
  • Paragraph 2: In this paragraph, we may include all the details, facts and figures that describe the purpose of the letter.
  • Paragraph 3: Here, we write the concluding statements and state our hope and expectation from the receiver.

 

CLOSING

  • Expressions used to mark the end of a letter.

LEAVE TAKING

  • An expression or a set of expressions used to say goodbye before closing the letter.

POSTSCRIPT

  • An extra message added to the letter after the signature, usually as an afterthought or additional information.

ENCL

  • It is an abbreviation that stands for 'enclosure(s)' i.e. any documents or things sent along with the letter in the same envelope e.g. cheques, testimonials, booking details, additional papers

ENVELOPE

  • A flat paper container in which a letter is enclosed and on which appear the addresses of the receiver and the sender

STOCK PHRASES

  • Fixed or set expressions e.g. greetings that a speech community uses in their day-to day conversation or communication.

CLICHES

  • Worn-out or overused expressions that is no longer interesting to hear or read.

CONVENTIONS

  • Accepted traditions of style or method of writing a letter

 

Letter Writing Tips:

Let’s check some letter writing tips. It will help you to draft a letter accordingly:

  • Keep it short and to the point: Letters involving business (personal or corporate) should be concise, factual, and focused. Try to never exceed one page or you will be in risk of losing your reader.
  • Focus on the recipient’s needs: While writing the letter, focus on the information requirements of your audience, the intended addressee.
  • Use simple and appropriate language: Your letter should use simple straightforward language, for clarity and precision. Use short sentences and don’t let paragraphs exceed three or four sentences.
  • Focus on the opening and closing of a letter: Opening a letter in the correct manner is of utmost importance. Formal letters open with a particular structure and greeting that is formal in nature. Informal letters can be addressed to the person’s name or any informal greeting as the writer wishes. Even when closing the letter, it must be kept in mind what type of letter is being written. Formal letters end respectfully and impersonally, whereas informal letters may end with a more personal touch.
  • Divide your letter into short sections and use lots of informative headings. Headings will help you keep your sections short, especially if your headings are very specific. 
  • Lastly, it is always essential to check your spellings and grammar. Reread and revise before finally delivering it.