Nowadays, knowing how to write a formal letter is a requirement for anyone involved in an academic or work context.
But what does a formal letter consist of? Well, formal letters are documents that are usually addressed to institutions or people with a certain degree of hierarchy, that is why they must meet a number of criteria to express the formality of our request. Not everyone knows how to write a successful formal letter and that is why we have decided to make this blogpost.
If you have never written a formal letter, it is likely that you feel unsure about the information that should be included in this type of text. That is why we recommend you to continue reading this post, in which you will find a step-by-step guide on how to write a formal letter.
what is a letter and what types of letters are there?
Many years ago, in the absence of telephone, radio and internet, the letter was the means of written communication that began to be used to keep in touch with people who were in different cities or countries.
Two important elements of the letter are the sender and the addressee. The person who sends the letter is called the sender, while the recipient of the letter is known as the addressee.
There are many types of letters, but in this article we will focus on the process of how to write a formal letter by following a series of simple steps.
what types of letters are there?
There is a great variety of letters. However, depending on the language to be used and the addressee, we can distinguish 3 types of letters:
1. The formal letter
As its name says, in the formal letter the use of formal language is required, this is because it seeks to express the information clearly and precisely to some kind of authority. In addition, there is a predetermined format that must be complied with in this type of documents and that allows maintaining the formality of the communication. If you are interested in learning how to write a formal letter, you should continue reading this article.
2. The informal letter
It is usually used for personal communications with friends or family, that is why it can have a colloquial language and without much formalism. The informal letter also allows the sender to take more liberties in terms of structure, since the main purpose is to convey the idea to be communicated.
3. The semi-formal letter
It uses the same format as the formal letter, but with less rigorousness. It is used to address acquaintances or people with whom you have a business relationship, such as assistants, teachers, consultants, etc. Generally, they are neither too short nor too long and it is not necessary to include the sender’s address.
what is a formal letter?
According to the Testbook portal, a formal letter is one that is used for official purposes, which may be related to work, academic, political, financial, etc. This type of letter uses a formal tone and must follow a certain structure that allows it to communicate information in an official manner
Formal letters are commonly addressed to companies, institutions, government departments, colleagues or authorities that hold an important rank. They are not usually used with close contacts, such as family or friends.
Due to the purpose of this document, there are a series of guidelines on how to write a formal letter that should be followed so that the message is well received by the recipient. Below, we will mention in detail the structure that must be followed.
what is a formal letter for?
The importance of a formal letter may vary according to the purpose for which it was written. Generally, they are used to inform about an important event, to make a request, to present a complaint, etc.
Also, it can be said that the purpose of a formal letter is to be able to maintain respect and good manners when dealing with important matters that concern different people. In this way, the information reaches the addressee in a clear way and can be processed correctly for its final resolution.
what types of formal letters are there?
In order to better understand the purpose of formal letters, below is a review of the 13 types of formal letters that are most commonly used:
Letter of dismissal
Characteristics of the formal letter
There are a number of features that distinguish a formal letter. Here are some of the elements of a traditional formal letter:
When writing a formal letter, the primary intention is to inform or communicate about something. This means that it is not used to send greetings or to initiate a conversation between two people. It is only intended to give notification of something important.
Sometimes, it may happen that when writing a formal letter you do not know the addressee. For example, if you want to send a letter of complaint to a company for a bad service provided, it is likely that the recipient of your letter is unknown to you. On the other hand, if your letter is addressed to your boss, there may be a certain degree of closeness.
The language used when writing a formal letter should be, as the name implies, formal. Use well-constructed phrases and sentences, with a broad, jargon-free vocabulary.
The expressions you will use when writing a formal letter should convey respect between the sender and the recipient. You may find yourself annoyed when writing a formal letter of complaint, however, you cannot use vulgarisms or expressions that may be considered disrespectful. This takes away from the seriousness of your letter.
You should make sure that your letter is not too long. Generally, those who receive this type of documents are very busy people who cannot take the time to read very long texts. Preferably, it is better to opt for a short and precise formal letter with the information you wish to communicate.
Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are prohibited in a formal letter. You must be extremely careful and proofread your text as many times as necessary, otherwise, the recipient may detract from the validity of your letter.
Although in informal letters it is common to add a postscript at the end of the document, it is not one of the elements of a formal letter, so we recommend you not to do it.
It is best if your formal letter is written on a computer. We recommend using a font that is easy to understand, such as Arial or Cambria. Also, take care of the spacing between lines, the correct use of margins and indentation.
When printing your formal letter, you should use a suitable type of paper such as bond paper. You should also take care that your letter does not have stains or wrinkles.
how to write a formal letter?
Now that you know what a formal letter is and what it’s for, it’s time to start spilling the beans. That’s why, below, we’ll introduce you to the format of a traditional formal letter and detail each section so you’ll know how to write it correctly.
Place and date
It must be placed at the top right of the formal letter. You must include the city from where the document is being sent and the date indicating the day, month and year.
Example: Lima, February 23, 2021
Here you must include the data of the person to whom the formal letter is addressed. Use the corresponding abbreviation (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.). You should also include the position held by the addressee.
Mrs. Laura Gonzales Flores
General Manager of Modo Comunicaciones
In case you have to write a formal letter on behalf of a company, you can include the company’s logo. This will help your letter to have more notoriety. On the other hand, if you are working on a personal brand, we recommend you to take this online course on Logo Design from scratch, so you can create your own logo and include it in all your documents.
Try to greet the recipient with courtesy. You can use expressions such as esteemed or distinguished. As this is a formal letter, it is not advisable to use very affectionate words, such as querido/a.
Example: Dear Mr. Carlos Melendez Torres
The way to start a formal letter is very simple. You should clearly and briefly state what your letter is about and what you hope to achieve from the other party.
Don’t go on too long, this part of the formal letter should take only one paragraph. Do not forget to use formal expressions.
Example: “By means of this letter, I would like to inform you of my interest in participating in your company’s selection process for the position of administrative assistant.
In this part of the formal letter we should add all the complementary information that will help us to reinforce the main idea of our text.
It is important that you take great care in the wording of the formal letter and that you are as precise as possible. You should also try to convey your arguments clearly, so that the addressee can understand what you want to communicate.
Example: “Throughout my professional life, I have had the opportunity to work in different positions for the most important companies in the country, so I think I could fit perfectly in your work team”.
Before ending your formal letter, you should add a small farewell paragraph in which you can emphasize the main idea of the text. You should also include cordial expressions, such as kind regards, cordial greetings, best regards, etc.
I am at your disposal to arrange any interview.
At the end of your formal letter you have to add the sender’s information, i.e. your full name and, if applicable, the position or title you hold. Additionally, you must also include your signature at the end of the letter. This can be done by hand or you can also use an electronic signature.
These are the basic steps to know how to write a formal letter. However, it is also important to focus on the content of the letter. Since formal letters generally seek to make a request, we recommend that you apply some effective negotiation techniques so that you can persuade the recipient to agree to your request.
Example of a formal letter
Now that you have a broader picture of what a formal letter means, what characteristics it has and what its parts are, we will show you a formal letter template that has all the elements mentioned above. so you won’t have any more doubts about how to write a formal letter!
This time, it is a sample formal letter to a director.
Tools for writing a formal letter
Despite all the information provided, do you need more help writing a formal letter? no worries!
1. Sample Informal Letter in Word
If this note is about how to write a formal letter, why do you need to have an informal letter example? the answer is simple! By having a clear reference of both types of writing, you will have a clear idea of what mistakes to avoid and what is the right way to communicate your ideas.
Also, you can keep this informal letter example for when you need to write a note to a friend or family member and need some inspiration. you can’t go wrong!
2. Sample Formal Letter in Word
After reading this article and learning everything you need to know about what formal letters are and what is the structure to follow when writing them, it is essential that you download this resource.
In this formal letter template in Word you will find a detailed example that follows each of the sections of the structure explained in the article. Take the opportunity to review it so that you no longer have any doubts and you can start writing your letter.
In this case, the example of a formal letter is a request for an interview with a headmistress of an educational center. As you can see, being a person unknown to the sender, it is necessary to write this type of letter to keep the formality and distance typical of these cases.
3. Basic spelling guide
As we mentioned before, a very important aspect when writing a formal letter is to have impeccable spelling. Since it is a formal document, if the content has many spelling mistakes, this could affect the recipient’s perception of the seriousness of the matter in question.
If you want to make sure that your formal letter is well written, then you need to download this basic spelling guide, which includes the spelling rules that are essential for writing any text.
what will you find in this basic spelling guide? Well, all the information you need about the use of the tilde, capitalization and some recommendations to avoid confusing some words that sound the same but are spelled differently. we recommend you to have this manual at hand while you are writing your formal letter!
download this free basic spelling guide!
4. Copywriting guide for impeccable spelling
how can copywriting help you write a formal letter? Well, to become a professional copywriter it is necessary to master the rules of spelling and grammar like a master of language.
In this copywriting guide you will find the basic principles of spelling and grammar that will be very useful when writing any type of text, including a formal letter.
By downloading this copywriting guide you will find the basic rules of accentuation and how to use punctuation marks. We recommend you to review this material before you start writing your formal letter, so you will avoid committing the typical spelling mistakes.
download the free copywriting guide for an impeccable spelling!
5. Cover Letter Examples in Word
need to write a formal letter in English? with this resource the language barrier will no longer be a problem! This sample cover letter in Word will help you write your own letter in English, even if you are at a basic level.
A cover letter is a document that is used as a cover letter or as a job application letter, so it has a certain formality and structure similar to that of a formal letter. If you are interested in working in an English speaking country, this is the tool you need to use!
By downloading this resource you will have access to 5 cover letter examples in English that have all the characteristic elements of this type of formal letters. Besides, they are in Word format, so you will be able to edit them in the same document without any problem.
download free cover letter examples in Word!
now you have all the knowledge you need to know how to write a formal letter! Remember to take care of your spelling and writing. If possible, try to write a draft first so that you can proofread and correct it as many times as you need to before you can turn the document into a clean document.
do you want to go beyond formal letters and venture into the world of letters with something more daring? Then you can’t leave without first checking out our catalog of online writing courses, where you can learn the basics of writing and how to start planning your first literary project. see you in the next post!