Formal Letter Writing

How To Write An Effective Formal Letter

Writing letters has become less common these days, due to the advent of the emailing system. However, the few formal letters that you may write will include important ones like covering letters for applications for jobs, surveys, questionnaires, complaints to banks, etc. Having the right effect on the reader is very important and hence a proper formal letter should be written accordingly.

• Things To Be Kept In Mind

The formal letter needs to be written in the correct format, should be to the point and short, relevant, using polite language even if it is a letter of complaint, free of spelling or grammatical mistakes and of course presented well. You need to know how to express yourself and format the formal letter right. If some general advice is followed then you will be successful in writing a formal letter successfully.

• Format To Be Used

Depending upon your requirement you can use a standard format, where the address is written on the right hand corner, at the top. Writing the email address or telephone number is permissible. Below this, the address and name of the person you are writing to can be written on the left. Some sort of title at least can be written, if there is no specific name available. However, it is always better to have details of that specific name. The date can be written on the right below the addressee details or to the left. The format for date is quite flexible and can be written with first the day, the month and then year and not the other way round.

Depending on whether or not you have the person’s name you can write the salutation at the letter’s beginning which includes, Dear Mr, Dear Mrs, Dear Miss, or Dear Alex or whatever the name of the person. Below the salutation you will need to put down the subject of the letter which helps in giving an idea about the letter to the reader before actually reading the letter.

You can use the reference number of a letter received, while writing a letter in response. Make sure you write this number on the same line on the other side of the page but on the same line, as the date. Keep the content as short as possible and divide it into clear and short paragraphs. It may be meaningless to write sentences like ‘looking forward to hearing from you’ etc.

End the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ if you have used the name of the person in the beginning of the letter, for example ‘Dear Alex’, or use ‘Yours faithfully’ if you began the letter with ‘Dear Sir’. Next, you have to sign below this along with your full name.

• Relevant And Concise

If the text is dense, there are all chances of your letter going into the wastepaper basket. Ensure that the letter does not take minutes, but ‘seconds’ to go through. So, get straight to the point and stick to it. Avoid including any supplementary and unnecessary information, long words, flowery language and repetition in the letter.

• Avoid Spelling And Grammatical Mistakes

A bad impression is created if there are grammatical and spelling mistakes in the formal letter and will reduce the effect of whatever is being stated in the letter. If a computer is being used to write the letter, then use the spellchecker, or otherwise a dictionary can be used. Check out clarity in sentences and punctuation marks.

• Right Presentation And Language

The tone of language needs to be used rightly. Formal letters should be used but not ‘overly’ used. Avoid jargon, slang, colloquial, emotive, contractions, vague and everyday language in the formal letter. Be respectful and polite while writing a formal letter and don’t overdo anything. Remember that the first impression is the last impression, so use top paper quality, avoid any stains, uses spellings correct and ensure to sign it at the end.