The purpose of writing a formal letter may be personal, professional, or for any other purpose. But regardless of the reason for writing it, there are a few standard formats and guidelines that need to be followed while drafting formal letters. Given below is a detailed explanation of the format and tips for writing formal letters.
So, what is a formal letter?
A formal letter is a type of business correspondence that is sent to customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, or any other external parties. These letters are usually written in a professional or formal tone and contain specific language and formatting requirements.
When writing a formal letter, it is important to pay attention to the following elements:
The Heading: The heading of a formal letter includes the sender's name and address, as well as the date. The heading should be aligned to the left side of the page.
The Recipient's Address: The recipient's address includes the name and address of the person or organization you are sending the letter to. The recipient's address should be aligned to the left side of the page, beneath the heading.
The Salutation: The salutation is the greeting at the beginning of the letter. When writing a formal letter, it is important to use an appropriate salutation. Common salutations used in formal letters include "Dear Sir or Madam," "To Whom It May Concern," and "Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Last Name."
The Body: The body of the letter contains the message you want to communicate. When writing a formal letter, it is important to keep the language professional and free from any slang or abbreviations.
The Closing: The closing is the statement at the end of the letter that indicates you are finished writing. Common closings used in formal letters include "Sincerely," "Best Regards," and "Thank you for your time."
The Signature: The signature includes your name, title, and contact information. The signature should be aligned to the left side of the page, beneath the closing.
Enclosure: The enclosure is a list of any enclosures that are being sent along with the letter. These might include items such as a resume, a copy of a proposal, or a brochure. The enclosure should be listed beneath the signature and aligned to the left side of the page.
What are the different types of formal letters or emails?
There are many different types of formal letters or emails that can be written for different purposes. Here are a few examples:
- Cover Letter: A cover letter is a letter or email that is sent along with your resume when applying for a job. The cover letter introduces you to the employer and explains why you are qualified for the position.
- Business Letter: A business letter is a type of correspondence between businesses or organizations. These letters might be used to communicate information about a new product, make a sales pitch, or request sponsorship.
- Complaint Letter: A complaint letter is a type of correspondence in which you express dissatisfaction with a product or service. Complaint letters are often sent to businesses or customer service departments in order to resolve a problem.
- Donation Letter: A donation letter is a type of correspondence in which you request financial support for a cause or charity. Donation letters are often sent to businesses, organizations, or individuals who might be able to provide financial assistance.
- Sales Letter: A sales letter is a type of correspondence in which you attempt to sell a product or service. Sales letters are often sent to potential customers or clients in order to generate new business.
Heading and salutation
The beginning of your formal letter or email is usually a heading and a salutation. The heading usually consists of your name and address, as well as the date. This is followed by a salutation, which is typically "Dear Mr/Ms/Dr + surname".
You can start your salutation with such formal phrases as "Dear Sir/Madam" if you don't know the name of the person you are writing to. However, it is always better to find out the name of the person you are writing to so that you can address them by name.
The heading should be short, clear, and to the point. It should be left-aligned on the page. In the formal letter, you can write such phrases for your headings as "RE: Complaint about the product" or "Thank you for your inquiry".
So, here are some samples for you to start a formal message:
- Dear Mr. Smith/Dear Ms. Jones,
- To whom it may concern,
- Dear Sir or Madam,
What should the body of your formal letter contain?
After the heading and salutation, you can start with the body of your letter. The body is the main part of your letter, where you will present your arguments or state your case. It should be clear and concise.
You should structure your body paragraphs so that each one deals with a different point. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that states the main point of that paragraph. Then, support your topic sentence with more information or evidence. Conclude each paragraph by linking back to your original purpose for writing the letter.
The first paragraph should explain the purpose of your letter. For example, you might be writing to make a complaint or to request information. The second paragraph should develop your argument or case.
For example, if you are making a complaint, you might describe what went wrong and how you would like the situation to be resolved. The third paragraph should summarise your key points and state what action you would like the recipient of your letter to take. For example, you might ask the company to replace a faulty product or refund your money.
Depending on the purpose of your formal email or letter, you might need to include additional information or attachments. For example, if you are making a complaint, you might include copies of relevant documents or correspondence. If you are requesting information, you might include details about what you need and why you need it. If your letter is more than one page long, remember to put your name and address at the top of each page, as well as the page number.
Here are several examples of what the body of your formal letter may look like:
1)Dear Mr. Smith,
I am writing to make a complaint about the product I ordered from your company. I ordered a red shirt from your online store, but the shirt that arrived was blue. I would appreciate if you could send me a replacement shirt in the correct color.
2)Dear Ms. Jones,
Thank you for your inquiry about our products. We would be happy to provide you with more information about our products and services. Attached to this email, you will find a brochure with more information about our company and products. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
3)To whom it may concern,
I am writing to request information about your company's products. I am particularly interested in your company's new range of laptops. I would appreciate if you could send me a brochure or price list for these laptops. Thank you for your time and assistance.
4)Dear Hiring Manager,
I am writing to apply for the position of marketing assistant. I saw your advertisement on the job board of my university and I believe that I have the skills and experience that you are looking for. Attached to this email, you will find my resume and a cover letter. I would appreciate if you could contact me to arrange an interview at a time that is convenient for you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I am writing to inform you that I will be moving to a new address on 1 March. Please could you update my records and send any future correspondence to my new address, which is:
1234 Example Street
Thank you for your time and assistance.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions about the format of a formal letter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I`m organizing a team-building event and it would be great if everyone could participate. The event will take place on Saturday, March 3rd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the park. Please let me know if you can come so I can book the appropriate number of tickets.
7)Dear Mr. / Ms .
I am writing to inquire about _______. I would appreciate if you could provide me with some information about _______.
Thank you for your time and assistance.
Our company is planning to expand its operations in California, and we would like to invite you to our grand opening event. The event will be held on March 3rd at 10 a.m., and it will take place at our new office located at 1234 Example Street, Exampletown, CA. We hope that you can attend the event and meet our team.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to seeing you at the event.
When should you end your formal email?
You can end your letter with a short conclusion that reaffirms your main point. For example, you might write: "I strongly believe that our company should invest in this new project. I have the experience and qualifications to make it a success."
The ending should be courteous but firm. You might say: "Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you soon." or "Thank you for your consideration, I am confident that I am the best candidate for this job."
If the purpose of your formal letter is to request something, you might want to say: "I would appreciate it if you could… Thank you for your time."
If you are sending a letter to a person who you have never met, it is polite to write: "Yours sincerely," before your name. If you know the person well, you can end the letter with: "Best wishes," or "All the best," followed by your signature and name.
What are the tips for writing an official letter?
Here are some tips to help you write a formal letter:
- Use a professional tone
When writing a formal letter, it is important to use a professional and polite tone. Avoid using contractions (e.g., don't, can't, won't), and make sure to use proper grammar and punctuation.
- Use formal language
Formal language is used in formal letters. This means avoiding any language that could be considered casual or informal. For example, avoid using phrases such as "I hope you're well" or "Thank you for your time".
- Be concise
When writing a formal letter, it is important to be concise and to the point. Avoid including any unnecessary information, and get straight to the point.
- Use a business letter format
When writing a formal letter, it is important to use a business letter format. This means using a formal heading, salutation, closing, and signature.
- Proofread your letter
Before sending your formal letter, make sure to proofread it for any spelling or grammatical errors. It is also a good idea to have someone else read it over to check for any mistakes.
When writing a formal letter, it is important to use a professional and polite tone. You should also use formal language and be concise. Additionally, make sure to use a business letter format and proofread your letter before sending it. Recheck all the grammar and punctuation marks. Be clear, brief, and to the point. Now you know how to write a formal letter. Good luck!