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How to Write a Retirement Letter

A retirement letter is the best way to formerly announce your intention of retirement to your employer. Follow these simple guidelines on how to write the most comprehensive retirement letter.

Format Your Letter

Review this basic retirement letter sample to write a perfectly worded retirement letter to your employer.

  • Your Contact Information: Name, Position Title, Company, Address, Phone and Email
  • Employer’s Contact Information: Name, Position Title, Company and Company’s Address
  • First Paragraph: Salutation and Formal Notification to Employer
  • Second Paragraph: Highlight Experiences
  • Third Paragraph: Offer Assistance
  • Closing: Final Thoughts and Sign-off

Formal Notification to Employer

Start your letter with a brief salutation and name your desired date of retirement. You may want to check company guidelines as to what the appropriate amount of time should be until your last day. Protocols may differ depending on your position with the company. Some employers prefer up to two months notice for date of retirement, while others prefer just a two weeks notice. Regardless, make it clear what your desired last day of employment is so that your employer has ample time to prepare for your leaving.

Highlight Experiences

In your second paragraph, take time to highlight any relevant experiences learned from your time at the company. Remind your employer of how many years you served at the company and any significant achievements you made while there.

This is also a good time to thank your employer for any relevant experience you learned from them. Keep it professional, even if you aren’t leaving on a good note.

Offer Assistance

If you would like to stay connected to the company in future, now is the time to bring it up. Center your third paragraph on ways you can stay relevant and beneficial to the company through your retirement. Offer to stay on for a few months to train a new person into your position. Offer to work part-time or as a consultant to your firm during your transition.

Final Thoughts and Sign-off

End your letter with final thoughts and a polite closing. Mention any future plans you are looking forward to after retirement like community outreach, travel or hobbies. You should also ask any questions you may have regarding pension plan and retirement benefits offered. Make sure to include your Human Resource department if you are writing through email.

Be sure to write a final thank you sentence, wrapping up the whole letter. End with your personal contact information for your employer’s reference and complimentary close.


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An Introduction to Letter Writing

Letter writing can be fun, help children learn to compose written text, and provide handwriting practice — and letters are valuable keepsakes. This article contains activities to help children ages 5–9 put pen to paper and make someone’s day with a handwritten letter.

On this page:

What’s so special about receiving a handwritten letter, activity 1: warming up to letter writting, activity 2: introducing letter writing, activity 3: formal letters, activity 4: informal letters, activity 5: letter of inquiry and letters providing information, activity 6: thank you letters, activity 7: letters of invitation, activity 8: letters of complaint, activity 9: letters to santa, activity 10: letters to newspapers and magazines.

  • Introduction

Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of emails and text messages, everyone has to write letters at some point. Letters of complaint, job applications, thank you letters, letters requesting changes or making suggestions — the list goes on and on. Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, social and handwriting skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing and structuring letters.

Within schools

Letter writing can be included in a school’s curriculum. Visits to museums or farms prompt thank you letters, for example contacting schools in other countries and exchanging letters links into geography. Writing imaginary letters to historical people can encourage understanding of a historical period or topic. Writing letters encourages good social skills, learning to say thank you and asking for information politely.

Letter writing has many purposes, including the following:

  • It encourages good manners, especially writing ‘thank you’ letters
  • Children can write invitations
  • Children can write letters to friends and relatives
  • Pen pals are always popular, giving insights into other children’s lives, especially overseas

In this article:

  • What’s so special about receiving a handwritten letter?
  • Warming up to letter writing
  • Introducing letter writing
  • Formal letters
  • Informal letters
  • Letter of enquiry and letters providing information
  • Thank you letters
  • Letters of invitation
  • Letters of complaint
  • Letters to Santa
  • Letters to newspapers and magazines

Quite apart from curriculum requirements, being asked to write letters is a task that will appeal to children. The sheer fun of sending and receiving letters appeals to every child. There is something special about putting letters into the post box and then having letters delivered by the postman… the brightly colored stamps, seeing your name on the envelope and knowing that inside is a long awaited letter from a friend or member of the family. It shows someone cares and has taken the time to sit down and think about you.

Handwritten letters have a charm of their own. You can take time to think about what you want to say. You can keep letters to read again and again. You can admire the handwriting; share dreams and thoughts. Responding by letter is very different to the immediacy of a text message or an email.

Use the above themes to encourage the children to discuss letter-writing. Ask the children to put their hands up if they have ever received a personal letter. Ask for one or more volunteers to talk about how they felt to receive the letter. Here are some initial questions that may help:

  • What was in your mind as you read the letter?
  • Did you keep the letter to read again?
  • Did you share your letter with anyone?
  • Did you write back?

And some questions for whole class or group discussions:

  • Can the class describe any differences between the handwritten letter and an email?
  • Do the children think there is ever a time when only a handwritten letter will do?

Ask the class to interview each other to find out each individual’s experiences of writing and sending letters. This can be recorded in a chart.

Collect a supply of different types of letters — both formal and informal. Ask the children to sort them out into two groups. Which were written to friends? Which are formal letters from businesses? Which features or characteristics distinguish formal from informal?

Having done that ask the children to look for differences between the two groups. This allows a discussion to take place about the different types of letter. Draw up a chart for each group covering:

  • Address — business or private?
  • Greeting — formal or informal?
  • Style of letter — friendly or business?
  • What is the message?
  • How does the letter end?

This will allow the children to find out for themselves the differences between formal and informal letters.

This could be followed by a discussion of the type of letters the children or their families write. How many occasions can they think of which would deserve a letter to be written? For example:

  • Letters of congratulation
  • Exchanging news
  • Writing to friends
  • Letters saying sorry for doing something wrong
  • Making appointments
  • Asking for information
  • Dealing with banks or stores
  • Letters to family members who live some way away
  • Letters to Santa Claus
  • Letters showing how much you appreciate someone
  • Letters responding to someone who has had bad news — showing how much you care by trying to share their sadness

In each case the children should decide what type of letter would be most appropriate in each case — formal or informal? Draw up a chart for each group.

These are sometimes known as business letters. They are written in a strictly formal style. Such letters are always written on an A4 (8” x 11”) sheet of paper. They can be folded three times so that the address to which the letter is being sent can appear in the window of a business envelope. The layout is always the same.

  • The senders address is put at the top right hand side
  • Include telephone number and email if available
  • The address of the person receiving the letter goes on the left hand side below the sender’s address
  • Greeting — Dear Sir or Madam, or To Whom It May Concern. You can use the titles Miss, Mrs. or Mr. if you know the name of the person to whom you are writing
  • The message
  • Complimentary close — Yours faithfully (when you don’t know the person’s name), or Yours sincerely (when you know the person’s name to whom you’re writing)
  • Write name in block letters (this is to ensure that the person receiving the letter knows exactly who has sent it. Signatures may not be very clear)

Typical layout of a formal letter

Typical layout of a formal letter

These are letters to friends and relations, or people you know well. Structure:

  • The sender’s address should always appear on the top right hand corner of the page.
  • Greeting — There are several variations that can be used depending on how well you know the person: Dear Mary, Hi Mary, Greetings
  • Complimentary close — short comment, for example Love, Lots of love, With thanks, See you soon

Typical layout of an informal letter

Sample Informal Letter

Tips for writing good letters

  • Make sure that they are well written. It can be very annoying for someone to have to struggle to read handwriting. Always use your best and clearest handwriting.
  • Make sure all your contact details are clearly written down at the top of the letter. If they are not, then you might not get a reply. The correct address is essential.
  • Think about what you want to say. If necessary make some notes on a separate sheet of paper first. This will ensure that you do not forget anything.
  • Think about to whom you are writing the letter. Use the right style of writing and language — formal or informal, business like or friendly.
  • Lay out your letter using paragraphs. This makes it easier for the reader.

Suitable for school, children ages 7-9

These are formal letters and messages need to be precise and detailed, covering all the required information. Two types of letters can be undertaken — a letter requesting information; and a reply providing it.

Out in the Milky Way, there is an alien curious about Earth. He writes a letter asking for information about liquids and gases. These do not exist on his planet and he finds it hard to understand what they are.

Write a letter explaining what liquids and gases are. How do they work? What examples could be included? What would be confusing about them? This could link to your science curriculum and could act as a revision exercise giving an opportunity for a discussion about gases and liquids.

The following day, give the children a thank you letter from the alien!

You could link up with another class in the school. One class could write letters of inquiry. These would be delivered to the second class for answering.

Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9

Thank you letters are very important and can be used in lots of ways: thanking organisations for helping, thanking people for helping you, thanking someone for a lovely time. They make a good follow up exercise after receiving presents or going on a visit.

Your class has just been out on a school visit to a farm. Write a thank you letter to the farmer. You will need to say thank you and how much you enjoyed the visit. Give some examples of what you enjoyed best about the day? Was it feeding the lambs? Pond dipping? Seeing the young animals?

Everyone likes receiving invitations. Receiving a hand written letter asking you to a party or a special event makes you feel very special.

Discuss what type of event might create a need to write letters of invitation. There are plenty of examples — birthday parties, Christmas parties, a visit to a beach with friends; going out to a farm or to the cinema, a wedding or when a new baby is christened; or simply inviting a friend to stay overnight at your house.

Choose a special event and write a letter inviting a friend. What do you need to include in the letter so that they have all the necessary information? You need to be clear on the date and the time, as well as the location. Your friend would be very upset if he or she went to the wrong place. Does he or she need to bring anything with them? Does he or she need to be collected at a set time? Will outdoor clothing be needed if the weather is bad? How will your friend reach the location of the event? Should a parent bring them or will you provide transport?

Remember to ask them to reply saying yes or no. Give a date by which you must have their reply. This is important if food and drink are being provided, or if you need to know exactly how many people are coming.

Suitable for school or home, children ages 5-7 and 7-9

When might a letter of complaint be sent? It might be when someone has done something wrong. Sometimes people write letters to organisations or the newspapers to complain about litter or poor service.

Just imagine what Mr. Bear must have been thinking at the end of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A naughty girl had broken into his home, eaten his porridge; broken a chair and then gone to sleep on his child’s bed. Then she had run away without even saying sorry when the bears came back.

Write a letter of complaint from Mr. Bear to the parents of Goldilocks. What would he say? He would need to get his complaint across very strongly. There would be a list of Goldilocks’ misdeeds. He would ask for an apology. Would he ask for payment for the broken chair? Would he ask for action to be taken against Goldilocks? Discuss the various possibilities with the children. What might he ask? Would it be a formal or informal letter?

Every year children write letters to Santa Claus, asking for special toys at Christmas time. But how many children think about Santa Claus himself? What is his life like? What are the problems of living amid all that snow and ice?

This is an exercise that could involve two classes within a school. Both classes should prepare for the task by listening to some unusual letters. J R Tolkein wrote a lovely book entitled Letters from Father Christmas. Every December a letter would appear telling wonderful tales of life at the North Pole — how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Santa Claus’s house.

Children in the younger class should write letters to Santa. They should ask about life at the North Pole. What do they think it is like? What sort of characters live there? How does Santa Claus occupy his time for the rest of the year? Consider how they would feel living in a land of snow and ice all year round? Would they want a holiday somewhere warmer?

Once the letters are written, gather them up and take them to an older group of children. Give each child a letter and ask them to write a reply. This would give them the opportunity to use their imagination and create imaginative responses, possibly little stories about life at the North Pole. They could also add in their own ideas. But care should be taken to make sure that all the questions in the original letters are answered.

Finally, take the answers back to the original class for reading and discussing.

These are letters that aim to pass on an opinion or a message. Examples can be easily obtained from local newspapers or from children’s magazines such as DK Find Out or Aquila. They are written slightly differently to normal letters and are always addressed Dear Sir, or Dear — (name of magazine).

These are letters that are directed at a wide audience — anyone who happens to read it. The sender never gets a direct letter back through the post. Sometimes people are so interested in a letter, which has appeared in a magazine that they want to express their opinions. So they then write a letter to the magazine giving their comments.

So what might go into a letter to a newspaper or magazine? It might be a request — could you provide more stories about skate boarding, or nature? It might be a way of thanking people for providing help. Sometimes letters to local newspapers are used to thank people who helped find a lost dog or help after an accident; but who did not leave their names. By writing to the paper, the sender hopes that the message will reach the people concerned. Sometimes such letters are used to express opinions such as on climate change, treatment of animals, poor services, not enough buses, and human rights.

Letters of this kind need to be very precise. Arguments should be clearly made. Requests for action should be clearly indicated. From reading the letter, everyone should know exactly what the sender is asking.

A major issue is recycling and energy conservation. Everyone is trying to reduce the amount of energy we use. Look at all the reasons why energy conservation is so important. Then, write a letter to a paper or magazine saying why you believe we should avoid wasting energy. Give examples of how energy can be saved? What measures should we take in our homes or schools? Could anything more be done?

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My Child magazine. (2007). Letter Writing Resource Pack. London, U.K. Author. Retrieved February 26, 2008, from

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How to Write a Letter

Last Updated: August 27, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Tami Claytor . Tami Claytor is an Etiquette Coach, Image Consultant, and the Owner of Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting in New York, New York. With over 20 years of experience, Tami specializes in teaching etiquette classes to individuals, students, companies, and community organizations. Tami has spent decades studying cultures through her extensive travels across five continents and has created cultural diversity workshops to promote social justice and cross-cultural awareness. She holds a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Clark University. Tami studied at the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned her Image Consultant Certification. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 15,012,595 times.

Knowing how to write a letter is a fundamental skill you'll use in business, school, and personal relationships to communicate information, goodwill, or just affection. Here is a basic guide on how to put your thoughts on paper in the correct format.

Things You Should Know

  • Write formal letters for business, semi-formal letters to acquaintances or distant relatives, and casual letters to friends and close family.
  • Start informal letters with a friendly greeting. Begin formal letters with your name and address, the date, and the recipient’s name and address.
  • Write in clear language so the reader knows what you want to communicate. Sign off with a closing that matches the tone of the letter.

Sample Letters

how to write and letter

Writing a Formal Letter

Step 1 Know when to...

  • These letters should be typed, then printed. You can use any text editing software to do this, such as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or Text Edit. If the letter is urgent or the recipient prefers email, you can send an email instead.
  • When addressing your current boss or coworker, you can be slightly less formal. Email is usually fine, and you don't need an address at the top of the page.

Step 2 Write your address and today's date at the top of the page.

  • Write out the full date. 19 September 2014 (British) or September 19, 2014 (American) are both preferable to Sept. 19, 2014 or 19/9/14. [2] X Trustworthy Source Reading Rockets Online resource supported by PBS providing research-based strategies for assisting children to become confident readers Go to source
  • Skip the date when writing an email.

Step 3 Write the name and address of the recipient.

  • Full title and name
  • Company or organization name (if applicable)
  • Full address (use two or more lines, as needed)

Step 4 Write the salutation.

  • If you know the job title but not the person's name, you may write "Dear Health Inspector:" or a similar phrase. It's usually possible to find the name with an online search, so try that first.
  • If you don't have a specific contact, write "Dear Sir or Madam:" or "To Whom It May Concern:". These sound a little stiff and old fashioned, so try to avoid it when possible. [5] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source

Step 5 Write the letter.

  • If you are writing on official business, keep it short and direct. If you are writing a distant relative or an acquaintance for social reasons, you can be a little more conversational. It's still best to keep it to under a page.

Step 6 Use a complimentary close.

  • For typed formal letters, leave about four spaces between the complimentary close and your typed full name. Print the letter, then sign your name in blue or black ink in that blank space. [8] X Research source
  • In a formal email, type your full name after the complimentary close. [9] X Research source
  • You may use a courtesy title for yourself when you put your name at the end of a formal letter. For instance, a married woman could sign as "Mrs. Amanda Smith."

Step 7 Fold...

  • Mr. John Smith
  • 123 ABC St.
  • New York City, NY 99999

Step 9 Write your return...

Writing an Informal Letter

Step 1 Decide how formal your letter needs to be.

  • If you're writing to a distant or elderly relative, or a social acquaintance, write a semi-formal letter. If that person has sent you emails before, you may email them as well. If not, a handwritten letter is a safer bet.
  • If you're writing a friend or close family member, an email or handwritten letter are both fine.

Step 2 Start with a salutation.

  • If you're writing a semiformal letter, you might use "Dear" or "Hello" as a salutation. Use the first name if that's how you talk to each other, or the courtesy title (Mr or Ms) if not.
  • If you're writing an informal letter , you can use "Dear" or "Hello," as well as more informal greetings such as "Hi" or "Hey." Follow it with the first name.

Step 3 Start the letter.

  • Know what not to write. A letter written in anger or to solicit pity is probably not a letter you should send. If you've already written such a letter and you're unsure about sending it, let it sit for a few days before you pop it into the mailbox — you might change your mind.

Step 5 End the letter.

  • A very old-fashioned close fits into the last sentence. This was originally a formal style, but you can have fun with it when writing a light-hearted letter to a friend. For example, the last paragraph of your letter could read "I remain, as ever, your devoted servant," and then your name.
  • If you want to add something after the letter's written, use P.S, which means Postscript ("after the writing").

Step 6 Send the letter.

Expert Q&A

Tami Claytor

  • Try to keep the letter focused on what would interest the recipient. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • "Dear" and other salutations are usually followed by a comma, but a formal letter can use a colon instead. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Be as reasonable and polite as possible when you're writing a complaint letter — if you do, you're a lot more likely to get a favorable response. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to write and letter

  • Drawing or doodling on envelopes might interfere with delivery. If you do want to decorate your envelope or add stickers, do so on the back. Thanks Helpful 11 Not Helpful 1

Quick Letter Slideshow


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About This Article

Tami Claytor

To write a formal letter, start by putting your address and the date at the top left-hand side of the page, followed by the recipient's name and address. Then, open your letter with a formal salutation, like "Dear Dr. Brown" or "To Whom It May Concern." When you write the body of your letter, try to avoid using contractions, like "aren't" or "wasn't," since they can make your letter seem informal. Also, keep the body of your letter short and direct so it isn't longer than a page. When you're finished, end with a complimentary close, like "Sincerely" or "Best wishes." To learn how to write a casual, informal letter, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Letter Writing


Before the advent of modern technology made communication so easy, the art of writing a letter was considered an important requirement. Even today a letter is an important means of communication in both the workspace as well as our personal lives. So let us educate ourselves with the nuances of letter writing.

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how to write and letter

A letter is a written message that can be handwritten or printed on paper. It is usually sent to the recipient via mail or post in an envelope, although this is not a requirement as such. Any such message that is transferred via post is a letter, a written conversation between two parties.

Now that E-mails ( Advantages and disadvantages ) and texts and other such forms have become the norm for communication, the art of letter writing has taken a backseat. However, even today a lot of our communication, especially the formal kind , is done via letters. Whether it is a cover letter for a job, or the bank sending you a reminder or a college acceptance letter, letters are still an important mode of communication. Which is why it is important that we know the intricacies of letter writing.

Image result for letter writing

(Source: npr)

Types of Letters

Let us first understand that there are broadly two types of letter, namely Formal Letters, and Informal Letters. But then there are also a few types of letters based on their contents, formalities, the purpose of letter writing etc. Let us have a look at the few types of letters .

  • Formal Letter : These letters follow a certain pattern and formality. They are strictly kept professional in nature, and directly address the issues concerned. Any type of business letter or letter to authorities falls within this given category.
  • Informal Letter : These are personal letters. They need not follow any set pattern or adhere to any formalities. They contain personal information or are a written conversation. Informal letters are generally written to friends, acquaintances, relatives etc.
  • Business Letter : This letter is written among business correspondents, generally contains commercial information such as quotations, orders, complaints, claims, letters for collections etc. Such letters are always strictly formal and follow a structure and pattern of formalities.
  • Official Letter : This type of letter is written to inform offices, branches, subordinates of official information. It usually relays official information like rules, regulations, procedures, events, or any other such information. Official letters are also formal in nature and follow certain structure and decorum.
  • Social Letter : A personal letter written on the occasion of a special event is known as a social letter. Congratulatory letter, condolence letter, invitation letter etc are all social letters.
  • Circular Letter : A letter that announces information to a large number of people is a circular letter. The same letter is circulated to a large group of people to correspond some important information like a change of address, change in management, the retirement of a partner etc.
  • Employment Letters : Any letters with respect to the employment process , like joining letter, promotion letter, application letter etc.

Browse more Topics under Writing

  • Descriptive Essay
  • Diary Entry
  • Formal Letters
  • Informal Letters
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  • Story: Characters
  • Story: Setting

Letter Writing Tips

Now that we have learned the basics of communicating via letters and the types of letters as well, let us focus on some tips for the actual letter writing.

1] Identify the type of letter

This obviously is the first step of the letter writing process. You must be able to identify the type of letter you are to be writing. This will be dictated by the person the letter is addressed to and the information that will be conveyed through the letter. Suppose you were writing to the principal of your college to ask for leave, this would be a formal letter ( Types of formal letters with samples ). But say you were writing to your old college professor catching up after a long time. Then this would be a personal ( informal ) letter.

2] Make sure you open and close the letter correctly

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.

how to write and letter

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.

3] Establish the main intent of the letter

Once you start writing, make sure to get to the point as soon as possible. Especially in formal letters, it is important to immediately make clear the purpose of the letter.

4] Be careful of the language

A letter is always supposed to be polite and considerate. Even if it is a complaint letter, the point must be made in a careful and courteous manner. So it is necessary to use polite expressions and civil language in all types of letters.

5] Length of the letter

And the other important factor to be considered is the length of the letter you are writing. It should be kept in mind that formal letters are generally to the point, precise and short. Lengthy formal letters tend to not have the desired effect on the reader. The length of an informal letter is determined by the message in the letter and the relation to the recipient.

Solved Example for You

Q: Alex was to write a letter to her class teacher asking permission to remain absent from school for 2 days on account of some personal matter. What type of letter will he be writing?

  • Personal Letter
  • Business Letter
  • Formal Letter
  • Any of the above

Ans: The correct option is C. While the teacher is a personal acquaintance of Alex, the situation demands a formal letter and not a personal letter.


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How to Write a Letter: Letter Writing Types and Examples

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  • Updated on  
  • Sep 2, 2023

How to Write a Letter

Whether for an exam or important communication on the professional front, letter writing is both scoring as well as a paramount need in your everyday life. A letter of recommendation or a resignation letter or even a relieving letter – all three require good letter-writing skills! Sometimes, writing a simple, informal letter can also be confusing. There can never be sufficient information on how to write the perfect letter along with the right font, spacing, and formatting! So here is a step-by-step guide to help you write or improve your letter-writing skills, for any important day or exam of your life.

This Blog Includes:

What is letter writing, why is it important to know how to write a letter, choose the right type of paper, use the font and format, write sender’s address , specify dateline , come to recipient’s address , insert greeting/salutation , body of letter  , include complimentary close , signature text , attachments , types of letter, what type of letter should you write, what is a formal and informal letter, types of letter writing, write a letter to the editor, application for leave in office, write a letter to your friend, tips on how to write a letter, sending a letter, what’s p.s., the envelope, more topics under writing.

A letter is a type of written communication that can be written by hand or printed on paper. Although it is not required, it is frequently conveyed to the receiver via mail or post in an envelope. A letter, or a written discussion between two parties, is any such message that is sent through the mail.

The art of letter writing has taken a backseat now that E-mails (Advantages and Disadvantages), SMS, and other means of communication have become the norm. However, letters are still used for a lot of our communication, especially official communication. Letters are still a crucial means of communication, whether it’s a cover letter for a job, a bank reminder, or a college acceptance letter. This is why we must understand the nuances of letter writing.

Also Read: Letter of Explanation

Everyone needs to know how to write a letter, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons. These letters may be short, informal emails at times. They’ll be well-polished for corporate correspondence at other times. Today, printed letters are commonly used for professional or commercial communications, therefore knowing how to compose a letter for professional purposes is essential. It’s especially vital to write a letter appropriately if you’re sending a printed copy to the recipient rather than an email.

Also Read: How to Write a Motivation Letter with Examples & Samples

How to Write a Letter?: Step-by-Step Guide

The following are the general guidelines for writing a letter:

You should type and print your letter on plain white paper. You may wish to print on nice resume paper depending on the circumstances for example if you’re sending a letter of reference or a cover letter with your resume. If you’re writing a business letter on behalf of your company, it’s a good idea to use company letterhead.

Your letter should be typed and printed on plain white paper. Depending on the circumstances—for example, if you’re sending a letter of reference or a cover letter with your resume —you might want to print on excellent resume paper. It’s a good idea to utilize company letterhead when sending a business letter on behalf of your company.

To begin, write your complete address in the upper left-hand corner, including your entire name, street address, city, state, and zip code. Learn how to write an address properly if you’re not comfortable with it.

Specify the date by skipping a line. Use the date you’re writing the letter.

Place the recipient’s entire address after skipping a line. The firm name, the recipient’s name and title, and the postal address must all be included in a professional letter. There’s no reason to mention the firm name or job position in an informal, personal letter.

To put the welcome, skip one more line. This is referred to as salutation. In a formal letter, you say “Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name:” After the greeting, formal letters require a colon, whereas informal ones demand a comma. It’s acceptable to use the recipient’s first name followed by a comma in an informal letter.

Start the letter by skipping a line. Separate your thoughts into paragraphs in the body of your letter. You should never write a large block of text in one sitting. Begin a new paragraph for each new collection of thoughts or ideas. Between paragraphs, leave a blank line.

To incorporate a complimentary close, skip one of your final lines. “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” “Regards,” or something similar can be used as a closure. Whether the letter is official or casual, a comma should always follow the word or phrase you choose to close it.

Skip three lines (where your handwritten signature will be inserted) and input your entire name. On the next line of a formal letter, you should also add your job title.

Skip one more line and type “Enclosure” if you’re including any attachments with your letter. If there are multiple attachments, use parentheses to indicate how many there are, as in “Enclosures (4).”

Also Read: How to Write a Letter of Resignation

Here are the different types of letters:

  • Chain letter
  • Letters patent
  • Audio letter
  • Cover letter
  • Recommendation letter and the closely related employment reference letter
  • Letter of credence
  • Crossed letter
  • Informal letter
  • Poison pen letter
  • Business letter
  • Form letter
  • Letter of intent
  • Hybrid mail (semi-electronic delivery)
  • Letter of thanks
  • Dear John letter
  • Love letter
  • Letter of interest
  • Cease and desist letter
  • Complaint letter
  • Query letter
  • Letter of resignation
  • Letter to the editor
  • National Letter of Intent
  • Open letter
  • Letter of introduction
  • Letter of marque

In this game, there are no hard and fast rules. You’ll want to employ a different letter-writing structure depending on who you’re writing to. The greatest choice is usually a casual discussion with a friend or close relative. Many different types of letters can be written for a close family or acquaintance. Here are a few examples:

  • Handwritten letters
  • Emailed letters
  • Typed social media messages
  • Cover letters
  • Letters of intent
  • Value proposition letters
  • Business memorandum letters
  • Promotion letters
  • Reference letters
  • Resignation letters
  • Thank-you letters

Also Read: Reference Letter vs Letter of Recommendation

Let us have a look at some significant differences between formal and informal types of letters: 

Let us talk about the different types of Letter Writing in a broader spectrum of formal and informal letters. Let us check some of the types of letter writing other than formal and informal letters:

  • Business Letter: This letter is written for business purposes and contains information like quotations, orders, claims, complaints, letters for collection, etc. These letters are extremely formal and follow a proper structure
  • Official Letter: This letter is written to inform offices, branches, and subordinates. These are for official information like rules, regulations, events, procedures, etc
  • Social Letter: A social letter is a personal letter written on the occasion of a special event. This includes invitations, congratulatory letters, condolence letters, etc
  • Circular Letter: A circular letter announces information to a large number of people. The letter is circulated to a large group to share information on change of address, change in management, the retirement of a partner etc.
  • Employment Letter: It is the type of letter that is written for the employment process like a joining letter, promotion letter, application letter, etc

Must Read: How to Write a Joining Letter?

Formal Letter Writing

While writing a formal letter, it is mandatory to stick to the format and follow a subtle and professional tone as these letters are written for official purposes and contain a professional issue to talk about. Following is a format of formal letter writing: 

  • Sender’s Address : Mention the complete and accurate sender’s address in the top left section.
  • Date: It is mandatory to put in the date just below the address.
  • Reciever’s Address: The appropriate address of the receiver has to be mentioned in a similar order to the sender’s with the exact designation of the concerned person.
  • Subject: The subject is basically a one-line summary of the issue that is mentioned in the letter. It should be written very briefly within one line.
  • Greetings: Keeping in mind that it is a formal letter, the salutation must be formal and respectful. You can use Sir or Madam in this case. 
  • Letter Body: It is the most important part of the letter. You can divide the content into two or three paragraphs as per the details. It should be formal and to the point.
  • Signature: While closing the letter, you can use ‘Yours Faithfully’ and then mention your name at the end. 

Also Read: Formal Letter Format, Types, Samples, and Writing Tips

To clear all your letter-writing doubts, given below is a sample of how to craft an impeccable formal letter to the editor:  

Letter to the Editor

Here is a sample Leave Letter for working professionals:

Leave Letter in Office

Also Read: Leave Application Format for Office, School & College

Exploring Letter Writing for English? don’t forget to go through Message Writing: Examples, Format & Samples . 

Informal Letter Writing

As such, there is no strict format for writing an informal letter but it is advised to follow the usual pattern. As mentioned above, an informal letter is written to friends, relatives, classmates, etc. If you want to learn and score well in your English exam, here is a general pattern of informal letter writing that you can follow:

  • Address : Begin the letter by writing your address on the left-hand side of the sheet. It is mandatory to mention the address so that the receiver can reply back and it is written on the top left.
  • Date: Immediately after the address, the date has to be written. It is compulsory to write and it should be in an expanded format.
  • Salutation: Be it informal or formal letter writing, you should greet the person you are writing the letter to. For example, if you are writing a letter to your friend then, you can use ‘Dear Kaysha’ . 
  • First Paragraph : Since it is the introductory paragraph, you can start by asking about their well-being in a lighter and casual tone.
  • Second Paragraph: This is the main body where you can state your affairs. You can use a friendly tone for friends but if you are writing to an elderly relative, the tone should be polite and subtle.
  • Third Paragraph: It is the last paragraph where you have to summarise the message you wanted to convey through the letter. Conclude it with a goodbye message followed by a short statement mentioning that you await the reply.
  • Signature: While signing off, you can use a phrase like Best, Kindly, Lots of Love, etc.


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Here is a sample for a letter to a friend:

Letter to a Friend

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A well-written letter can ensure that you pass the right information to people. For every letter, the method changes. But there are a few things you must know about:

  • You must identify the type of letter you are writing
  • Ensure that the letter has a proper introduction and conclusion
  • Establish the intent of the letter
  • Be conscious of the language you use. It changes as per the type of letter you write
  • The length of the letter should be optimal. Not too long for the reader to get bored or too short that you are unable to share the information itself

The most difficult portion is over once you’ve determined that the envelope is the correct type. Now all you have to do is mail it. (You can always deliver it yourself if it’s a personal letter.) Simply write the intended recipient’s name on the outside of the envelope in this scenario. Write your name and address in the top left-hand corner or use a mailing label. Carefully write the recipient’s address in the centre of the envelope. International letters should include the country for both the destination and return address, in addition to the state abbreviation and zip code. The cost of postage varies. For current pricing, see the USPS website, or use a forever stamp for US destinations. 

Make sure everything on the outside of the envelope is right. If that’s the case, fold your letter and neatly insert it inside. Seal it only after you’ve double-checked that you’ve included all of the pages you want to send. Isn’t it satisfying to send a letter that you know has been meticulously prepared? A well-written letter, without a doubt, has the best chance of succeeding.

Also, Read: How to Write a Motivation Letter for PhD Programs?

The abbreviation P.S. stands for postscript. It’s something you add after the letter is finished at the last minute. In most cases, postscripts aren’t used in formal letters; if you need to add something, you’ll have to rewrite the entire text to include the new information.

A first-class letter can only be 3.5 ounces in weight in the United States. If your letter is longer than three pages or is printed on thick paper, you’ll need to weigh it to ensure it fulfils the standards. The envelope’s size and shape are also important. It must be rectangular and less than 611 inches in length, or it will be returned to you by the post office.

You can check out the writing formats by clicking on additional topics below.

  • Feature Writing
  • Summary Writing
  • Difference Between Precis and Summary
  • Leave Application
  • Message Writing
  • Precis Writing
  • Travel Writer
  • Report Writing
  • Script Writing 
  • Article Writing

Isn’t it satisfying to send a nicely crafted letter? A well-written letter, without a doubt, has the best chance of succeeding. To ensure that your letter truly shines, it must be error-free and create the appropriate tone. Use any writing assistance to detect spelling and grammatical errors, and provide formatting tips and guidance to help you produce clear, easy-to-follow emails that keep your recipient’s attention. Write the perfect letter and stand out for your amazing choice of words and structure.

Ans. To start writing a letter, you will have to know who you are writing to and the reason behind the letter. With that in mind, you can start drafting your letter with the Sender’s address on the left-hand side of the paper at the beginning, followed by the date.

Ans. Formal Letters and Informal Letters are the two basic styles of letter writing. Informal letters are written for whatever you wish to tell your friends or family, whereas formal letters are prepared for official purposes.

Ans. A letter can be divided into six halves. The sender’s address and date, the receiver’s address and date, the salutation, the body of the letter, the complimentary close, and the signature are all included.

Ans. The five steps of writing a letter are – writing the name, contact information, and date, writing the receiver’s name and information, writing the greeting and main body of the letter, writing complimentary closure, your name, and signature, and sending the letter.

Ans. The three types of letters are formal letters, semi-formal letters, and informal letters.

Thus, letter writing is an art in which one can excel with sufficient practice. If you are clueless about how to proceed after class 12th, then take the assistance of the professionals at Leverage Edu who will not only guide you in choosing the right university but will also help in completing the admission-related formalities!

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Business Communication  - How to Write a Formal Business Letter

Business communication  -, how to write a formal business letter, business communication how to write a formal business letter.

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Business Communication: How to Write a Formal Business Letter

Lesson 7: how to write a formal business letter.


How to write a formal business letter

how to write and letter

Whenever you need to communicate with another company or share important news, business letters can present your message in a classic, polished style. Unlike internal memos, business letters are usually written from one company to another, which is why they’re so formal and structured . However, letters are also quite versatile, as they can be used for official requests, announcements, cover letters, and much more.

Despite the formality, letters can still have a friendly tone , especially because they include brief introductions before getting to the main point. Regardless of the tone you use in your letter, your writing should remain concise, clear, and easy to read.

Watch the video below to learn about formal business letters.

This lesson focuses on American business letters. Letters written in other parts of the world may have minor differences in formatting.

The structure of a business letter

The business letter’s precise structure is crucial to its look and readability. As you write your letter, you can follow the structure below to create an effective document.

  • Opening : Include your mailing address, the full date (for example, July 30, 2017), and the recipient’s name, company, and address. Skip one line between your address, the date, and your recipient’s information. Don’t add your address if you’re using letterhead that already contains it.
  • Salutation : Address the recipient using “Dear,” along with their title and last name, such as “Dear Mr. Collins” or “Dear Director Kinkade.” If you don’t know the recipient’s gender, use their full name, such as “Dear Taylor Dean.” Finally, be sure to add a colon to the end of the salutation.
  • Body : In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and the main point of your letter. Following paragraphs should go into the details of your main point, while your final paragraph should restate the letter’s purpose and provide a call to action, if necessary.
  • Closing : Recommended formal closings include “Sincerely” or “Yours truly.” For a more personal closing, consider using “Cordially” or “Best regards.” Regardless of what you choose, add a comma to the end of it.
  • Signature : Skip four lines after the closing and type your name. Skip another line and type your job title and company name. If you’re submitting a hard copy, sign your name in the empty space using blue or black ink.
  • Enclosures : If you’re including documents with this letter, list them here.

Another important part of the structure is the layout , which determines how the text is formatted. The most common layout for a business letter is known as block format , which keeps all text left-justified and single spaced, except for double spaces between the paragraphs. This layout keeps the letter looking clean and easy to read.

As stated in Business Writing Essentials , revision is a crucial part of writing. Review your letter to keep it concise, and proofread it for spelling and grammar errors. Once you’re finished writing, ask someone to read your letter and give you feedback , as they can spot errors you may have missed. Also make sure any enclosures are attached to your document and that any hard copies are signed.

After revising the content, consider the appearance of your letter. If you’re printing a hard copy, be sure to use quality paper. Also try using letterhead to give your document a more official look.

Example of a business letter

To see this lesson in action, let’s take a look at a polished business letter by reviewing the example below.

how to write and letter

This letter looks great! The structure is perfect, and the text is left-justified and single spaced. The body is formal, friendly, and concise, while the salutation and closing look good. It also contains a handwritten signature, which means it’s ready to be submitted as a hard copy.

Knowing how to write a business letter will serve you well throughout your career. Keep practicing and studying it, and you’ll be able to communicate in a classic style.



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Letter Format Example and Writing Tips

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how to write and letter

What To Include in a Formal Letter

Writtten letter format, email letter format, letter template to download, professional written letter example, professional email example, tips for formatting your letter, proofread, spellcheck, and print, how to address the envelope.

 Theresa Chiechi / The Balance

A printed letter is usually reserved for important professional communications, such as recommendation letters, cover letters, resignation letters, business and legal correspondence, and company communications. Since a letter is a formal mode of communication, you'll want to know how to write one that is professional.

Correct formatting is especially important if you're sending a hard copy to the recipient rather than an email, because the letter needs to fit the page, be clear and concise, be easy to read, and look professional.

Review information on what you need to include when writing a professional letter, examples, and advice on the appropriate font, salutation, spacing, closing, and signature for business correspondence.

Key Takeaways

  • A formal letter should include details about why you’re writing, an expression of your appreciation to the recipient for considering your request, and your contact information.
  • Correspondence can be sent as a written letter or in an email. When sending an email message, list the reason you are writing in the subject line of the message.
  • When writing a professional letter, carefully proofread and spellcheck before you print or send it.

Formal correspondence should include the details of why you’re writing, your contact information so the recipient can follow up, a greeting and closing, and your signature.

Contact Information (Written Letter):  A written letter should include your and the recipient’s contact information (name, title, company name, address, phone number, email), followed by the date.

Contact Information (Email):  When sending an email, you don’t need to include the recipient’s contact information. List your contact information at the end of the letter, after your signature.

Greeting:  Address the letter using a professional greeting and formal title ("Dear Mr./Ms./Dr.").

Body of Letter

  • The first paragraph of your letter  should provide an introduction as to why you are writing, so that your reason for contacting the person is obvious.
  • Then, in the  following paragraphs , provide specific details about your request or the information you are providing.
  • The  last paragraph  of your letter should reiterate the reason you are writing and thank the reader for reviewing your request. If appropriate, it should also politely ask for a written response or for the opportunity to arrange a meeting to further discuss your request.

Closing:  Use a formal sign-off , such as "Sincerely" or "Best regards."

Signature (Written Letter):  End the letter with your handwritten signature followed by your typed name.

Signature (Email):  Include your typed name followed by your contact information.

It’s important to include enough detail so that the recipient understands why you’re writing and the response you expect to the letter.

Here’s a template for each section of a formal letter:

Your Contact Information   Name Address City, State Zip Code Phone Number Email Address

Recipient Contact Information  Name Title Company Address City, State Zip Code

Greeting   Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Use a  formal salutation , not a first name, unless you know the person well. If you do not know the person's gender, you can write out their full name. For instance, write, "Dear Pat Crody" instead of "Dear Mr. Crody" or "Dear Ms. Crody." If you do not know the recipient’s name, it’s still common and acceptable to use the old-fashioned “ To Whom It May Concern .”

Body of Letter

  • Paragraph 1: State the reason you are writing, for example, you are asking for something or sharing a piece of information.
  • Paragraph 2:  Provide details about your request or the information you’re sharing.
  • Paragraph 3:  If necessary, include additional information on the purpose of your letter.
  • Paragraph 4:  Thank the reader for considering your request, and ask for a response to your letter.

Closing Best regards,

Signature Handwritten signature (use black or blue ink to sign a written letter)

Typed Signature  Your typed name

Here’s a template for each section of a professional email:

Subject Line Subject: Your Name — Reason for Writing

Greeting Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Body of Message Your message should be two or three paragraphs at most and should explain why you’re writing and what you’re requesting.

Closing Sincerely,

Typed Signature and Contact Information Mikala Schwartz 617-123-1234

When sending email correspondence, include the reason you are writing in the subject line of the message. List your contact information under your typed signature at the end of the message.

Here is a letter template that you can download  (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or review the text version below.

Nicole Thomas 35 Chestnut Street Dell Village, Wisconsin 54101 555-555-5555

September 5, 2022

Jason Andrews Manager LMK Company 53 Oak Avenue, Ste 5 Dell Village, Wisconsin 54101

Dear Mr. Andrews,

I’m writing to resign from my position as customer service representative, effective September 16, 2022.

I’ve recently decided to go back to school, and my program starts in late September. I’m tendering my resignation now so that I can be as helpful as possible to you during the transition.

I’ve truly enjoyed my time working with you and everyone else on our team at LMK. It’s rare to find a customer service role that offers as much opportunity to grow and learn, and perhaps more rare to find such a positive, inspiring team of people to grow and learn with.

I’m particularly grateful for your guidance while I was considering furthering my education. Your support has meant so much to me. 

Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you find and train my replacement.

Thanks and best wishes,

Signature (hard copy letter)

Nicole Thomas

Subject: Annual Meeting

Dear Kathleen,

Thank you so much for your assistance in planning our annual meeting. Your expertise in handling the meeting arrangements, booking the conference facilities and hotel, coordinating travel, scheduling events, and organizing the meeting is greatly appreciated.

I appreciate your help and advice, and I am hoping we can plan on having your assistance with next year’s event. It’s tentatively scheduled for January 16–20, 2023, in Tampa, Florida. If you can confirm your availability, I’ll be in touch when we’re ready to start planning.

I look forward to working with you in the future, and thank you again.

Best regards,

Peter Hancock

Professional letters should be simple, short, and written in business format using a traditional font.

  • Length of the Letter: Most formal letters are no more than one typed page.
  • Font Style and Size: Use a plain font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Your font size should be between 10 and 12 points.
  • Margins:  Use one-inch margins and left justify your text.
  • Spacing: Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph. Use one-inch margins and align your text to the left. Leave an extra space after the salutation, before the closing, and before and after your handwritten signature in a printed letter.
  • Printing the Letter:  Business letters should be printed on plain white paper.

Once you have written your letter, proofread it and carefully spellcheck it on the screen. Then print it out and read it through aloud at least one more time, checking for any errors or typos. This is important as it's often easier to spot errors on a hard copy. 

Reading your letter out loud is a good way to catch a mistake.

Check for formatting errors, such as two paragraphs that don’t have a space between them or lines that are indented incorrectly. Then, before putting your letter in an envelope, sign above your typed name using black or blue ink. 

If you’re emailing your letter, send a copy to yourself to be sure it’s perfect. Then send the final version to the recipient.

Print a copy of your written letter so you have it for your records. Your email will be saved in your “sent” email folder.

When your letter is ready to mail, fold it in thirds so it fits into a business-size envelope. You can use your word processing program to print the addresses on the envelope or handwrite them. 

Print your name on the top left corner of the front of envelope. Print the recipient’s address in the center of the envelope, parallel with the long side. Add a stamp to the top right of the envelope.

NMU Writing Center. " Parts of a Business Letter. "

University of Arizona. " Writing a Professional Letter ."

USPS. " How to Send a Letter or Postcard: Domestic ."

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How to Write a Letter

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Our grandparents and great-grandparents wrote letters all the time: to their friends and families, to the bank manager, to express condolences, to complain, to invite someone to visit, to accept an invitation and to thank people for hospitality or gifts.

Nowadays, we don’t need to write letters very often and it’s become a dying art. Emails, Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging mean that we can stay in touch all the time. There are still, however, times when writing a letter is appropriate, and it’s good to know when, and how to write one.

This page explains different types of letters, from informal to formal, and how to write each one. On this page, we are talking about writing letters that will be sent by post - snail mail - not by email. Most of the letters described on this page should never be sent by email. The only exception is for a job application, where you should attach a formal letter to a covering email.

The General Structure of a Letter

A formal letter has a standard structure, which is:

If you are writing an informal letter , you may omit the recipient’s name and address, and you may also sign it off more informally: ‘ With love ’, or ‘ With best wishes ’, rather than ‘Yours sincerely’, and sign with just your first name, omitting your surname and title.

Forms for signing off a letter vary depending on how you addressed it. The rule is that if you addressed it ‘ Dear Sir ’, then you sign off ‘Yours faithfully’, and if you addressed the person by name, then you sign off ‘Yours sincerely’.

What if you don’t know the name of the person to whom you are writing?

This might arise, for example, if you want to send a letter or a complaint to a company, and you have been told to “ just send it to the Customer Service Department ”.

Your options are:

Start the letter with ‘ To Whom it may Concern ’. This does not feel very personal, but it fits with what you’ve been told to do.

Address the letter to ‘Head of Customer Service’ at the company address, then use ‘ Dear Sir ’. ‘ Dear Sir ’ is technically the correct form when you do not know the name of the person, but many people prefer ‘ Dear Sir or Madam ’.

Google the name of the person who heads that department, and use their name. If you are writing to a big company, this information should be publicly available, and there is no excuse for not finding and using it. If the company conceals the name of the person responsible for customer service, then it seems entirely reasonable to send your complaint direct to the CEO.

Why does this matter? Because letters that are personally addressed are likely to get through quicker, and also get more personal attention.

The only exception is if you are writing to the editor of a newspaper , in which case you always write ‘Dear Sir’. The form to use on the envelope is ‘The Editor’, then the name and address of the newspaper.

A word of warning about unusual titles

The titles ‘Sir’ and ‘Dame’ go with the first name. You therefore address letters to knights and dames ‘Dear Sir John/Dame Nellie’ and not ‘Dear Sir Smith/Dame Melba’.

Peers, however, are addressed by title and surname: ‘Dear Lord Jenkins’.

If in doubt, check the website, or phone the office of the person to whom you are writing, and ask how they should be addressed.

As a general rule, you should type and print business letters, and hand-write personal ones. If you hand-write, use blue or black ink.

If you believe you can send an email instead of a letter, then don’t use the full formal structure. Just start your email ‘Dear Mr [Name]’, followed by the text you wish to send, then ‘Yours sincerely, [your full name]’.

Particular Types of Letter: Special Cases

Formal invitations.

Wedding invitations, or invitations to very formal events such as a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace or the White House, are written in the third person:

RSVP stands for ‘Respondez, s’il vous plait’, which is French for ‘Please reply’. It is outrageously rude not to do so, even if you are not able to attend. The correct way to reply is with a handwritten letter, in the same third person form:

Ms Delilah Green thanks Mr and Mrs John Smith for their kind invitation to the wedding of their daughter Maria to Mr George Jones on Saturday 25th July at 12 noon, at Jacoby House, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. She will be delighted to attend. Ms Green will be accompanied by Mr James White.

Copy the form of the invitation, so that your hosts know that you have correctly understood where you are to be and when. If your invitation says ‘+ guest’, it is helpful to your hosts if you end your reply by telling them the name of your guest, so that they can include it on the table plan if they wish.

If you can’t attend, you should say something like:

‘ She regrets that she will be unable to attend as she has a prior engagement ’.

Thanking Someone for their Hospitality or for a Gift

It doesn’t really matter whether you and your friends ‘go in’ for formal thank you's. Nobody has ever been known to be offended by a letter thanking them for hosting you for the weekend, or at a wedding, or for a gift.

Plenty of people are offended by the lack of a formal thank you and it may affect your chances of receiving further invitations. Just send one, even if it’s only a card. And don’t email or text either it’s not the same and your host may be offended.

Never type a personal thank you letter. It has to be hand-written, however appalling your hand-writing. Conventionally, thanks for hospitality were always addressed to the hostess. However, nowadays the host is likely to have taken as great a part in the organisation, so many people prefer to write to both.

The form of the letter is:

If you do not know the people well , and have written to ‘Mr and Mrs [name]’, as may well be the case for a friend’s wedding, you should end ‘Yours sincerely, [your full name]’, or, if you wish be less formal, with something like ‘With renewed thanks and best wishes, [your name]’.

However, if you are writing to a close friend, you can sign off as you wish: ‘With much love’, or ‘Love to all of you’, for example, followed by just your first name.

You do not need to reply to a letter expressing thanks.

Thanking Someone at Work

You may, on occasion, need to thank people for something at work.

For example, if you have organised a conference or seminar, you should always write to thank the speakers for giving up their time. If you have spent some time shadowing someone, it would be a nice gesture to write to thank them for their time rather than just sending an email.

On such occasions, a typed letter is perfectly acceptable, although you should always sign it by hand. If you are fairly junior in the organisation, it is conventional to get the letter signed by the senior person responsible for the conference: the director, or CEO if necessary.

Why do you send a postal letter? It shows that you’re prepared to spend time and money thanking someone, so it’s much more of a gesture than an email.

The way in which you address the person depends on whether you have addressed them formally or informally when you have previously got in touch, and when you met them on the day. If you have addressed them by first name, you should do the same.

The form of such letters is:

A covering letter for a job application is a special case which is covered on our page Writing a Covering Letter .

A Letter Writing Rule of Thumb

If you are in doubt about whether you need to write a letter to thank someone, or to reply for an invitation, then there are two things to ask:

  • Do I need to send some kind of message? If the answer is yes, for example, to an invitation, then you need to decide between a letter or email.
  • Will the (non-)recipient be offended if I don’t send a letter?

Remember that nobody was ever offended by a polite thank-you letter. Plenty of people have cut off all contact with former friends because of the lack of a thank-you letter following hospitality.

You may think that’s stupid, but so is not taking the time to send a short note!

Continue to: How to Write a Covering Letter Common Mistakes in Writing

See also: The Art of Tact and Diplomacy Formal and Informal Writing Writing Effective Emails


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