Table of Contents
- What is a formal letter format?
- What are some types of formal letters?
- Format of a formal letter
- Formal letter format: sample
- Final thoughts
In a world run by technology and e-mails being the way of communication, formal letters still hold the ground. For various reasons, many occupations may demand a formal letter. As a result, you should be familiar with the formal letter format and use it whenever necessary.
If you are confused about the formal letter format or the structure, let us help you. Read all about how to write a perfect formal letter here. Let’s get started!
What is a formal letter format?
Formal letters follow a relatively fixed structure, written professionally and usually addressed to businesses, educational departments, political institutions, or publication editors. Besides, you can also write a formal letter to the authorities, and a formal complaint letter format may be useful there.
The formal letter format exists to help you communicate your opinions, requests, complaints, or words professionally.
What are some types of formal letters?
It is time to go through various types of formal letters before getting to know the format. Knowledge about these types will help you judge what kind of letter to write in a particular situation.
A formal letter format for school will follow the basic formal communication structure. For example, if you need to take a leave, you can write a formal letter to the principal requesting the same.
2. Letter to the editor
When you want to address the editor of a newspaper, magazine, or news website, you will need to use the format of a formal letter to the editor. Editors usually receive many letters and communications, so you need to make your point crisp. Also, while drafting the letter, keep in mind that some editors and publications may have a certain word limit for you to follow.
3. Formal letter for business
There are various types of formal business letters such as resignation letters, request letters, leave letters, etc. You need to use a formal business letter format while writing any of these business letters.
4. Letter to authorities
Letters to the authorities are used quite often, and these may be written to organizations, municipal departments, elected officials, etc.
5. Invitation letter
Although most letters to friends and family will be under the informal format, you may use a formal letter format on certain occasions. For example, a letter of invitation (to your wedding or similar event) should be formal even when you are addressing your family members.
Format of a formal letter
Keep in mind, there are some variations, but in general, the format stays quite rigid when drafting formal letters:
A formal letter always starts with the address of the sender at the top. The address needs to be accurate in case the receiver wishes to respond to you. If you have a standard/fixed letterhead, you do not need to write the address again.
Below the address, mention the date when you are sending the letter. This helps the receiver to have a reference point for your letter. This is especially important if the subject matter in your letter is time-dependent. Dates also help to keep a record of communication between parties.
After the date, add the receiver’s title on the left side. Although conventionally, people start with ‘To’, this may not be necessary and depends on your preference. You may also write the person’s name if you know it, but some people prefer to keep it professional and leave out the name. Pro Tip: When you do not know the title or name of the receiver, you may use the term “To Whom It May Concern” as the title.
You may wonder why you need to mention the receiver’s address inside the letter when it is already on the envelope. But, this part of the formal communication process helps keep a clear, precise, and complete record of your communications. All the important details are captured including the recipient’s address. It is also useful for legal purposes. Therefore, always mention the address below their title/name/designation.
Next, you can directly address/greet the person. Keep your greeting professional and courteous without being too personal. When addressing someone highly senior in the organization, you can use Respected Sir/Ma’am. However, some people skip the ‘Dear/Respected’ part to avoid complications.
Most people are familiar with the subject line due to the use of e-mail. The subject line comes from formal letter writing and needs to be short and direct. It is a brief sentence about the purpose or intention of the letter. If you are responding to a letter, the subject line can begin with ‘RE’ (meaning regarding). For example, RE- Your letter received on XXXX date.
The body of the letter contains 2-3 short paragraphs. You can explain the purpose of your letter, state what you are expecting, and mention any important details. For example, if you are writing to your principal, you should mention your student identification number. Or, if you are writing to your boss, mention your designation. Be mindful that even if you are writing a complaint letter, you need to be polite and professional.
Similar to the greeting section, the closing section also has some acceptable variations. ‘Yours truly’, ‘Yours faithfully’, and ‘Yours sincerely’ are the most common closings used by people.
Formal letter format: sample
Here’s an example of a formal letter that will help you write one whenever needed:
Sample: A letter to the editor of a newspaper talking about the issues faced by street animals.
|A-297, North Delhi, India. |
26th November 2021
35, CP road, Delhi
Subject: Increase in the accidents of street animals
I am writing this letter to bring your kind attention to the accidents happening now and then on the highway, injuring street animals. I would like for you to address this issue through the esteemed column of your newspaper.
The highways are crowded and the people drive fast, leading to jams and accidents. It’s my request from the corporation to look into this issue at the earliest.
As a means of communication, the formal letter format has been transformed digitally. The conventions of formal letter writing are used heavily in professional e-mails today.
But, you can still see the use of the original formal letter format in print, particularly in business, education, and legal circumstances. This makes formal letter writing a skill that people should learn.
If you need us to include any more information about the formal letter format, let us know by reaching out to us.
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Q1. Is slang permitted in a formal letter?
Answer- No, in a formal letter, professional language is supposed to be used. So, avoid slang, casual conversational language, and colloquialisms.
Q2. Do I need to write the receiver’s address first or the sender’s address?
Answer- In the formal letter format, the sender’s address comes first, then the date, followed by the recipient’s title, and finally the recipient’s address.
Q3. What is the benefit of letter writing vs modern means of communication?
Answer- Letter writing offers the time to think carefully as the writers draft their communication. Apart from that, it acts as a record of communication between parties. While e-mail and text have slowly begun to be used as records in legal contexts, letters are far more prevalent and accepted in these circumstances.