What is a Formal Letter?

The formal letters include many things that are related to the business letters. In other words, it can be said that all business letters are formal letters. Any kind of communication that is official can be carried out by sending a formal letter. There are many types of letters that fulfil the formal purpose of recommendation letter, job application letter, invitation letter, complaint letter etc. The basic characteristics of all the formal letters are almost same.

Formal Letter Format

Here is the basic layout of the formal letter:

First, add contact details

In contact details, you can add the address at the top, following by email address and phone number. In some of the letters, you can also add an email address and phone number in the end. If you are making use of letterhead of the company, then contact details will be present on top of the letter.

Second, add date

It is important to add the dates because, if you want to continue with the further communication then adding date can make it easy for you keep a tab on your letters.

Third, add salutation

The salutation is the important part of the letter and should be added at the beginning as well as at the end. In business or formal letters, it is very important to add the salutation that can match well with the subject of your letter. Don’t go friendly, while adding the salutation.

Fourth, body of the letter

What kind of details you want to include in your letter? What is the subject of your letter? Depending on answers to such questions, you can select the content for your letter. If required, you can also add few suggestions or solutions.

Fifth, get the letter printed

The formal letter should always be given in a printed form. Informal letters look good sometimes if they are hand-written. But with the formal letters, you should always go with the printed form. After getting the printout, keep one copy of the letter with you as a proof.

How to write a formal letter?

In the age of the internet, people prefer to make communication via emails then be it informal or formal communication. But still, there is a lot of scope for letter writing. In many business fields, people prefer to still send formal letters in order to add effectiveness to the communication. The letters can also serve as a proof of document.

The formal letters should always be written in such a way, that it can add the desired effect on the reader. Here are the few things you need to keep in mind while writing a formal letter:

  • Take care of the format, that you plan to use in the formal letter. It is very important to go right with the format because it can create your good impression in the mind of the reader.
  • Don’t exaggerate any point, in such a letter. Always write to the point and keep your letter short as well as crisp.
  • It is important to add relevant information in order to make it easy for the reader to understand your motive behind writing a formal letter. Adding irrelevant information, can create your bad impression.
  • Proofread your letter twice, in order to avoid any kind of grammatical errors. Check out spelling errors, sentence punctuation etc. while proofreading your letter.
  • Even if you are writing a complaint letter, it is important to make use of the polite tone.
  • Using right tone to write such a letter is important. It is very important to create a good impression in the mind of the reader and this can be done by writing a letter in the correct manner.
  • The presentation of the formal letter should always be up to the mark.

Rules for Writing Formal Letters

1st rule – Include your and recipients address in the letter.

2nd rule – Write the complete date and don’t make sue of shortcuts. You should write the month in a word. After the address, you can add the date.

3rd rule – Include proper salutation like Dear Sir or Dear Madam. You can include the name of a person after adding salutation like “DEAR”.

4th rule – Include proper salutation in the end of the letter. Formal salutation can be like Yours Faithfully or Yours Sincerely.

5th rule – Adding your signature is very important. Even if you have your name printed after the salutation, at the end of the letter, it is important to add your signature before your name.

Content of the Formal Letter

Content plays a major role in defining the purpose of writing a formal letter. Don’t make use of casual approach while writing such a letter. For instance, many people write “U” instead of writing “You”. Maintaining formal tone is very important in such a letter.

In the introductory paragraph…

An introductory paragraph should always be written in a short and concise manner. It is essential for you to convey the main purpose of writing a letter in the introductory paragraph.

In the main body…

What message you want to convey via the formal letter? What are the key points associated with it? Give answer to the mentioned questions in the main body of the letter. It is important for you to write the main body content in such a way that it can keep the recipient engaged. Add all the required details but don’t exaggerate. Don’t write any sentence in the main body of the letter that can create double meaning and confuse a reader.

In the conclusion paragraph…

The conclusion paragraph of your formal letter should always display a call of action than whether it is related to sending you some information or cashback or any such thing.

Difference Between Formal and Informal Letter

The purpose of writing a formal and informal letter is different. In order to carry out official or professional communication, a formal letter is written. On the other hand, an informal letter is written to carry out the personal communication. While writing a formal letter, you may or may not know the recipient personally. In a case of an informal letter, you may know the recipient personally and it can be your good friend, colleague or any relative.

The structures of both the types of letter are different. The informal letter, does not follow any kind of strict format like the formal letter. In the formal letter you have to strictly make use of the professional language, whereas with the informal letter you can make use of friendly language. The style of salutations and greeting, also differ in both the types of letter.


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