For obvious reasons, we always seem to associate letter writing as a thing of the past.
The advent of technology and the Internet has opened new means of communication through devices such as cellphones and computers. These days, people find it much easier to send a quick text message to their friends or a thorough formal email to their colleagues.
But even with these advancements, letter writing still plays a key role in professional and personal communication. Apart from maintaining clarity, letters also assist in developing stronger relationships between two parties.
“When did we stop writing letters?”
It’s a known fact that technology has slowly taken over manual and traditional devices, so it’s not unusual for one to perceive letter writing as a Stone Age method of communication. But even with the existence of text messages and emails, the truth is, many people still value the idea of formal letter writing.
A letter is a simple thing, with nothing but a blank paper, along with deepest thoughts and opinions.
These days, our means of communication is constricted to a measly 140 characters, not to mention the undeniable pressure from clients and peers. Nobody thinks about putting pen to paper unless it involves scribbling a few notes and to-do lists in its rawest form. You may also like application letter examples.
But some people seem to forget how valuable letter writing can be in a professional setting. It’s an indispensable tool of communication that businesses use to sell a product, make an inquiry, seek advice, build public relation, and increase goodwill customers and investors to appreciate. In a world where people are always in a rush, your recipient will definitely notice how you took the time and effort to gather your thoughts and put them into writing.
While there’s nothing wrong about seeking assistance from auto-reply bots and other instant messaging applications, taking the time to write a formal letter says a lot about who you are. It depicts authority and credibility as an individual (or business) to let the receiver know that you’re serious about what you do. Sometimes, this has nothing to do with the tone rather, it’s the way you handle the situation in hopes that the recipient responds the way you want them to.
It’s common for a business to request customers to write a letter to verify an inquiry or complaint that they may have communicated personally or by phone. In most cases, these letters must be signed by the sender for it to provide proof that an exchange was made. Keeping a paper trail will surely come in handy if some type of conflict arises. You may also see email cover letter examples.
No matter how careful you are, your words and actions may affect a future event and would be revisited at some point for verification purposes.
This is one of the reasons why retaining a copy of every letter you write is extremely important. There’s also the possibility of the letter being misplaced by a third party entity, such as a postal service, a secretary, an assistant, or any company employee held responsible for delivering the letter. Some examples of these letters include certifications, complaints, reference, permission, recommendation, and resignation letters.
Letters don’t always have to be formal in nature. Many people consider letter writing as a way to stay connected with friends and family who live many miles away. Considering how most of us run by tight schedules and 8–10-hour shifts, taking some time out of our busy lives to write a letter shows just how much we care. It’s so easy to get caught up in a fast pace world that writing a simple letter is already seen as a thoughtful act.
In spite of the widespread availability of instant communication, many people still value the idea of sending letters to express your gratitude, congratulations, and condolences to loved ones.
Your great-grandparents might chuckle at the thought of letter writing appearing as a classy undertaking. But next to typing text messages and writing emails, letters seem to have risen in respectability. You don’t see a lot of people writing letters anymore, not even fresh applicants looking to find a job at a promising firm. Since letter writing isn’t as common as it once was, people have learned to appreciate the simplicity of the craft in ways that can trigger a positive impact.
It can take forever to relay information via text messaging, and not everyone can keep track of all the email they receive due to the amount of spam that can fill up an inbox. This is why letters are known to be the most economic and convenient method of exchanging information. Through general letter writing, executives can easily relay important data to customers, investors, suppliers, government offices, regulatory boards, and other organizations.
Communication is key to building a healthy relationship. This reduces the distance between a business and its customers and stakeholders. Although it isn’t necessary to keep sending letters on a regular basis, formal writing letters that are customized according to its intended audience is a great way too add a more personal feel to it. This shows that you value your clients and customers enough to write a letter that caters to their needs and addresses their concerns.
While personal meetings still play a huge role in maintaining professional relationships with public groups, there are instances when a personal visit may not be as practical due to the time and cost required to make it happen.
Traveling a long distance just to discuss certain matters that may be settled through pen and paper should be the last option on your list. If you can deliver your message through a five-line paragraph, then letter writing would be an obvious choice. You may also see business reference letter examples.
In connection to the previous item, think about the amount of time and money it takes to personally visit clients. Not only do you have to worry about travel costs, but you should go through the burden of squeezing in a meeting with your client to your already busy schedule for the day. You may also like job application letter examples.
Customer concerns are a critical factor to deal with. If you fail to respond the way a customer expects you to, you’re likely to be perceived differently by your consumer market. Word of mouth can spread out like wildfire, and if you fail to acknowledge your customers in a way that they desire, you’re bound to gain a bad reputation in the industry. You may also check out business proposal letter examples.
Official letter writing exhibits courtesy and professionalism. Even if there’s not much that you can do to solve their problems, responding through a well-written letter that properly explains the situation at hand will be appreciated nonetheless. This demonstrates just how much a business values its clients and customers.
Some business letters can also act as a formal agreement between a buyer and a seller. Apart from the receipt, a letter can also be sent to inform a buyer about their order. The letter may contain the name of the items ordered, their respective price and quantity, the time of delivery, and the mode of payment. All these items are regarded as the conditions of agreement between both parties. This will also serve as a proof of transaction in case of damage or loss.
Letter writing is a form of verbal and written communication. They contain information sent by one party to another to convey a given message. There are two specific types of letters: formal letters and informal letters.
Formal letters and informal letters vary greatly in both structure and content. To understand the difference between the two, let’s take a deeper look into the definition of each.
A formal letter is a written document made for a business or professional purpose, with a prescribed format, for an official function. Such letter is used for a variety of reasons like a formal invitation, a business proposal, a point of reference, a complaint, or even a job application. Regardless of its purpose, writers should always remain polite with their words. It’s also important to use simple language that is easy to interpret.
The primary objective of a formal letter is for professional communication. It may be written in first person (business letters) or in third person. The professional letter typically addresses a business, a college or institute, an employer, an organization, a client or customer, and other similar entities.
Since a formal letter often contains vital information about a particular subject, the document is likely to contain detailed sentences, which are long and complex in form. Writers must also use a passive voice when constructing this type of letter.
Another factor to take note of is the use of contractions (like didn’t or can’t) and abbreviations. Despite how familiar you are to using these terms on a regular basis, not everyone will understand industry-specific language. This is why contractions, acronyms, and jargon must be avoided when writing a formal letter. You may also see notice letter examples.
An informal letter is written in a friendly manner to someone we know fairly well, like a family member, a friend, or even an acquaintance. This is often used for personal communication to convey a message, offer advice, send greetings, request information, ask questions, and for other casual subjects. You may also like complaint letter examples.
The great thing about writing this type of letter format is that it has no prescribed format, and that writers are allowed to use an emotional tone in expressing their thoughts. This means that the use of idioms, figures of speech, and sarcasm are widely accepted.
Unlike a formal letter format, slang or colloquial terms, codes, and abbreviation may be used in writing your message. This all depends on the familiarity with the recipient, or whether or not it’s appropriate to speak with them in such a way. Informal letters may also be written in first, second, and third person. Writers are urged to use short and simple sentences that are easy to comprehend as well.
So before you begin writing your letter, it’s always best to identify who your recipients are. If you possess a professional relationship with the recipient, then a formal letter would be an excellent option, whereas if the recipient is someone close to you, then an informal letter would be the right choice. You may also check out how you address an email cover letter.
A well-written official letter has the ability to make a strong impression—one that is far stronger than even the most gracefully phrased email. Whether you’re applying for a new job, sending your gratitude to a potential employer, or politely resigning from your old job to welcome greater opportunities, knowing how to craft an official letter is a skill well worth the time and effort. You may also see thank-you letter examples.
But before you can even begin writing your letter, you must first be aware of its basic structure.
There are four components in an official letter: (1) the heading, (2) the salutation or greeting, (3) the body, and (4) the signature. Each component plays a significant part in the letter that will benefit both the sender and the receiver. Understanding the importance of each element will help you in your path toward composing an official letter. You may also like cover letter examples.
A heading consists of two things: your address and your recipient’s address.
Your address should go in the upper-right corner of the page. Under it, you should also include the date as to when the letter was written. The format of your date could follow the standards used in the United States which is a Month Day, Year format, or in a Day Month Year order like in Europe and the rest of the world. You may also check out offer letter examples.
As for the second part of your heading, you must state the name and the address of the person you are writing to. This includes the one’s title, the name of the organization that they belong to, and then the address of your recipient.
A salutation is a form of greeting that you use when addressing a person in your letter. This often starts with the word Dear followed by the name or title of the person you’re writing to.
But if you’re unsure about the spelling of your recipient’s name or who to address the letter to, then using “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” would be a safer alternative.
The body is the most important part of the letter because it reveals a sender’s purpose for writing. But for a receiver to understand the message a writer is trying to convey, there are a few points to consider when crafting the body.
First Body Paragraph
Don’t waste any more time, and go straight to the point.
Open your letter by stating exactly why you’re writing to the recipient. Keep in mind that your reason for writing could either be to open a conversation or to respond to an inquiry or question that has been sent to you. You can introduce yourself to let the reader know who you are and why your input should be taken seriously, but a one-line statement might also be enough to establish your point. You may also see two weeks notice letter examples.
Second Body Paragraph
Here, you must provide supporting details in regards to what has been stated in the first paragraph. This should elaborate your reason for writing in a brief yet detailed manner. If there’s a need to explain these details even further, then don’t hesitate to do so. What matters most is that you are able to describe the situation clearly enough for a reader to understand. You may also like employee reference letter samples.
However, make sure to focus on a single idea at a time. You don’t want to confuse the reader with information that isn’t relevant to your main purpose for writing.
This is where you can recapitulate the central point of your letter, suggest a response or reaction, thank the recipient for taking the time to read the letter—or all three.
Like the opening paragraph of your letter, make sure to keep this part brief. You can also provide your contact information to make it easier for a recipient to reach you as soon as they receive the letter. This can be helpful if you need an immediate response from your recipient. You may also check out appointment letter examples.
There are several closing phrases that you can use to seal your message. From “Sincerely” to “Respectfully yours,” use a phrase that is most appropriate to your relationship with the receiver.
In case you’re sending another document along with the letter, such as a resume or a business proposal, it’s a good idea to write “Enclosure” or simply “Encl.” right after your name to indicate another page or paper found in the envelope. This will reduce the risk of the letter getting separated from its supporting document. You might be interested in temporary job resignation letter examples.
It’s pretty surprising how some of the most respected individuals in business fail to apply the basic guidelines when it comes to writing a formal correspondence. That might explain why some people continue to seek help from professionals and online sources to help with business letter writing. You may also see recommendation letter examples.
Similar to how focused and efficient a business should be in order to succeed in a competitive market, an official letter should be treated and structured the same way as well.
Hence, we’ve gathered a number of tips and tricks to help you enhance your letter writing skills for the better:
As opposed to informal letters, formal business letters are a bit longer in form. That’s because it contains detailed information about a subject being discussed. However, this doesn’t mean that a five-page letter is naturally acceptable. Take note that busy people tend to skim through a document before they put it down, so anything that goes beyond the first page may be disregarded.
And if you want to relay large chunks of information at a time, then you might as well stick to a personal meeting for better delivery.
You still need to keep it short and straightforward, preferably one page in length, to avoid confusion.
Know your audience. Focus on the needs of your readers and make an effort to see things from their point of view. Imagine yourself in their position and consider how it would be like if you were the one receiving the letter.
A letter is often addressed to a specific person. This individual may be a part of a particular age group or location, which means that it’s highly possible for them to misinterpret your professional writing one way or another. You could mention a sophisticated word that’s rarely used in everyday conversation, and if they interpret differently than you intended, this could likely cause a misunderstanding between you and the receiver.
It’s easy to communicate with your readers if you know exactly what they prefer. If you’re writing to a potential investor for one of your projects, you might want to do some background check about the individual. This will offer you enough insight as to how a message may be conveyed. You may also like immediate resignation letter examples.
In general, the tone and content of an official letter should always be formal and factual. Unlike informal letters, feelings and emotions do not have a place in a standard business letter.
Although you wouldn’t want to sound robotic with your letter, you don’t want to seem as if you’re addressing your best friend while writing to a business executive, either. Avoid phrases like “we feel,” as it does denote emotions, and use “we believe” or “we think” for a more firm approach. You can also use a cordial, friendly approach to ease the tension, as long as you keep it businesslike. You may also check out acceptance letter examples.
Even so, be wary with your choice of words. Using overly formal terms may seem like a desperate attempt to connect with your recipients. Quit looking for the sophisticated synonyms to these words, and use simple, everyday language instead.
Writing a letter can be a time-consuming process, especially when you enter the job completely clueless about what to write.
Before crafting your letter, take a few minutes to list down all the areas that need to be covered. This will help you establish what needs to be emphasized in the letter, along with the relevant information to support it. Sometimes, it might even be necessary to consult your manager or colleague to confirm a specific point. You may also see business proposal cover letter examples.
Keep in mind that the purpose of an official letter is to sum up every significant detail of the subject at hand so that more letters wouldn’t have to be written back and forth during the exchange.
Stop worrying about impressing the recipient and start focusing on conveying your message.
Using a clear and direct writing style will be of great help when writing a letter that is easy to read and interpret. You should also make sure that your message follows a logical flow of general statements, wherein the letter starts with identifying the main subject, followed by elaborating the point, and then drawing a rational conclusion that concerns your recipient.
Using complex words and vague language will only make it difficult for a reader to understand what you are trying to prove with your letter. Ambiguity will get you nowhere, so you might as well communicate in such a way that a general audience may understand. You may also like proposal letter examples.
Ensure that everything in your letter is true. Double-check information, especially if it includes dates or any monetary value. Anything written in the letter almost always have financial implications and related impacts that may affect customers or other businesses. You may also check out resume cover letter examples.
Imagine if a programmer tried to explain to you how a system works. Instead of talking about the system and the code they used to make it run, they start babbling about PHP, SQL, JQuery, AJAX, variables, declarations, loops, and all the programming language that you know nothing about. You might be interested in incident report letter examples.
Although you could always look up the meaning of these terms, it could take some time (and an extreme amount of effort) before you can finally get the gist of their message.
Using jargon is one of the major Don’ts in official letter writing. You also need to avoid language that is specific to a particular gender, race, or religion when dealing with professional matters. Some words can be deemed offensive, so try searching for better substitutes to these words. You may also see simple resignation letter examples.
Letters are a vital communication tool in a personal and a professional exchange. Anything you write is a reflection of who you are, along with what you can offer a client or investor. Although it may take some time before you can finally perfect the content and structure of your letter, official letter writing serves as an essential skill that’s well worth mastering. You may also see reference letter examples.