In the presence of formal email writing these days, letter writing has become less common. However, some of the letters that are written today will be among the most important ones, such as writing a letter for a job application, request for proposal, bank applications, and so on.
Those letters are called formal letters since they are used within a professional organization and can only be accepted if it is formally written. A formal letter follows a correct format that is used in every business application. This format is the standard in writing a formal letter.
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What Is Formal Letter Writing?
A formal letter writing or formal letter is a kind of business proposal letter. However, this can be a misleading term since formal letters are not necessarily only used in business.
We use a formal letter to entail any written letter for formal purposes, such as applying for a loan in the bank, recommendation letter, complaint letter, writing a reference letter, and so on.
We address formal letters to banks, doctors, employers, government officials, landlords, and to companies and academic institutions. Letters that are for friends and families are considered informal letter.
How Do You Start and End a Formal Letter?
The way your start a formal letter will depend on how formal you need to be.
- If you are applying for a job or bank application and you don’t know the person whom you are writing for, you can start with “Dear Sir / Madam” and end it with “Yours faithfully”.
- For formal business correspondence, such as business reference letters, you can start with “Dear Mr. / Dear Ms.” (+ surname) and end it with “Yours sincerely” (+ your name).
- Some formal letters with uncertain reception usually start with “To whom it may concern” and end with either of two closers mentioned above.
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The Parts of a Formal Letter
- The Heading. This part contains the sender’s address (usually two or three lines). It also contains the name of the company and address, a phone number, fax number, and e-mail address or something similar. This part is written in the left margin. An example:
- John Doe
123 Elm Ave.
Greenville, ON M1N 2P3
- The Date. The date must be written with one blank space after the last line of the heading. The month must be written in full word followed by the date and year. You may also see application letter examples & samples
- The Inside Address. This part contains the recipient’s name and the address of letter that is being sent to. Make it as complete as possible. Include titles and names, if you know them. This is also written in the left margin. You may also like business reference letter examples
- Mr. M. Leaf
Chief of Syrup Production
Old Sticky Pancake Company
456 Maple Lane
Forest, ON 7W8 9Y0
- The Salutation. Also called the greeting. This parts of the formal letter are always formal and normally begins with “Dear”. Include the person’s last name, if you know them. You may also check out acknowledgement letter examples
- Dear Sir / Madam (last name),
Dear Mrs. / Ms. (last name),
To whom it may concern (note: this is also acceptable)
- The Body. This part contains the complete message of the letter. It can be handwritten or printed. The message should be clear, concise, logical, and related to your objective. The body usually contains three paragraphs and must provide a line in between. You may also see thank-you letter examples
- The Complimentary Close. This part is placed on the second line after the last line of the body. This is short, polite, and ended with a comma followed by the signature on the next line. You may also like notice letter examples
- Yours truly,
- Best regards,
- The Signature. This part contains the name of the sender together with his/her title. For example,
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The Dos and Don’ts of Formal Letters
- Always provide your name and address as the sender.
- Address your letter to a specific person or company.
- Always be formal in writing a letter.
- Make your message clear and concise.
- Always follow the correct format of a formal letter
- Be sure to sign the letter.
You may also see complaint letter examples
- Miss out writing your name, address, phone number, and email address.
- Forget to write the recipient’s name and address.
- Use incorrect spacing, margin, and format.
- Using unfamiliar slang, jargon, and complex language.
- Improper salutation and closing.
- Wrong grammar, spellings, and punctuation.
- Be unprofessional.
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The Rules in Writing a Formal Letter
When writing a formal letter for business, application letter for job, bank applications, and other formal letters, it is important that it should follow a correct format. A correct format of a formal letter is an accepted professional protocol.
Here are the rules in proper formal letter writing.
- Start with your name and address as a sender. The phone number and email address are optional.
- Skip a line, and enter the correct format for the date.
- Skip a line, and provide the recipient’s name and address.
- Skip a line, and enter the appropriate salutation.
- Below the salutation, enter the subject or the objective statement of your letter. Make it as short as possible but understandable.
- Skip a line, and begin the content of your letter. Divide it into three paragraphs. Provide a space in between.
- Skip a line, and enter the suitable and appropriate complimentary closing. Keep it polite as possible and end it with a comma. You may also like reference letter examples
- Below the complimentary closing is your name and below your name is your title.
- Provide your signature for validity.
- Everything must be left-aligned.
Our formal letter examples here follow the correct format. You can download these examples and make it as your reference. You may also check out cover letter examples
Format of a Formal Letter
As mentioned above, this type of letter is only accepted when it’s formally written. Conclusively, it should be neat, professional, and follows the standard formats. However, if these formats are unknown to you, it would indeed be a complex job to write one. To help you obtain further knowledge in writing your own formal letter, here are the formats that you need to consider.
Before starting to learn the different formats of a formal letter, you must be aware of its different parts first. Respectively, these are the sender’s address, date, receiver’s address, salutation, subject, the body of the letter, closing remarks, and signature. By acquainting all of these, it would be easier for you to learn the format.
1. Full Block Format
Full block format is simply distinguished when all of the parts of the letter is aligned to the left margin. This letter format provides a clean and professional impression to the reader, which makes it the most commonly used format in business matters. Moreover, a double space divides the letter’s paragraphs and has no indents. This format is deemed to be the simplest, but it works excellently in various situations.
2. Modified Block Format
On the other hand, in a modified block format, the sender’s address, date, closing remarks, and signature are aligned to five spaces to the right of the middle of the page. Each of the paragraphs in this format is also indented by five spaces in the beginning. Moreover, paragraphs could be separated by either a single or double line space, according to the length of the letter.
3. Semi-block Format
Writing a semi-block letter format is a lot similar to that of a full block letter format. In fact, the only difference that you should observe is the indention of the first line of every paragraph in the body. This letter format is also great in various situations, especially on non-official business correspondences.