How to Write a Letter?

Though technology has made its presence in every sphere of modern lives, some traditional practices are still valued. Take for instance the age-old habit of letter writing. You may feel why to take the pain of writing a letter when you can use the email and text-messaging services, both of which are fast. Agreed, the old practice may sound odd in the age of email and smart phones, but you cannot turn a blind eye towards the benefits a letter can derive. Nor can you completely ignore the need of writing it. There would be many instances in your personal and professional life where you would be required to resort to this traditional practice of communication.

First, you must know with whom you would be communicating through letters, and how your style of writing and the letter's tone should be. You would need to write it to a government official, a social figure, an academician, an employee of a non-profit organization, or a potential employer. When communicating with these people, you will use a formal tone. If the letter is written to a co-worker, current employer or an elderly relative, you have to use semi-formal tone. You can be personal when writing to a close friend, spouse or a girlfriend.

As you are aware about the people you will be writing a letter to and how formal you should be in your communication, let's discuss the common points you must follow for letter writing:

  • Every letter, regardless of its tone and your closeness with the recipient, must have a universal format. It must contain the sender's address, date, receiver's address, subject and reference in some cases. The information of the sender will be on the top of the letter followed by other details.
  • You have to greet the readers before starting with the letter. Depending on the relationship that you share with the recipient, you have to address him or her accordingly. You can begin with "Dear" followed by the last name of the person. In case you do not know the gender of the person, then you can mention "Dear Sir/Madam"
  • The start of the letter would depend on whether you are writing a personal letter, or a business letter. If the letter is personal, you can ask him or her “how are you? I hope you are doing well and in good health.” For a business letter, start with the reason of writing. In such letters, both yours and the reader's time is valuable. So, don't waste it and be on the point straightaway.
  • Use the body paragraphs to communicate your intentions. Decide what you need to accomplish. Do you want to complain about a product, need a price list, or just let someone know that you are missing him or her badly, or congratulate him or her for a promotion in the job? Just share your thoughts clearly without giving any reason to the reader for guessing.
  • In the final paragraph, you need to ask a person to act after reading the letter. You may ask him to call you back, email you or reply the letter. The ending depends on the type of letter written and the requirements of the situation.
  • The letter always should have a complimentary close. The closing depends on whether the letter is formal or informal. The most typical business letters have "Yours sincerely" and "Yours truly" in the end. The ending in personal differs and is subjective.

Writing a letter is not as complex as several people believe it to be. You always write a letter with some objective in mind. It could be for a professional purpose of seeking admissions, applying for a job, proposing a business, requesting a favor, etc. If it is a personal letter, it could be written to send good wishes, to convey some news, to show concern and affection, etc. It is vital to draft a letter that portrays the purpose at first instance. If the purpose is mentioned at the end or is conveyed ambiguously, the letter loses its effectiveness. Purpose is what makes the letter effective. Hence, make sure your letter correlates with your purpose of communication.

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