Letter Writing: Introduction – Types of Letter – Letter Writing Tips – English Writing Skill

How to write Letter in English ?

What is Letter Writing?

A letter is a written message that can be handwritten or printed on paper. It is usually sent to the recipient via mail or post in an envelope, although this is not a requirement as such. Any such message that is transferred via post is a letter, a written conversation between two parties.

Now that Emails (Advantages and disadvantages) and texts and other such forms have become the norm for communication, the art of letter writing has taken a backseat. However, even today a lot of our communication, especially the formal kind, is done via letters. Whether it is a cover letter for a job, or the bank sending you a reminder or a college acceptance letter, letters are still an important mode of communication. Which is why it is important that we know the intricacies of letter writing.

How many Types of Letters are there?

Let us first understand that there are broadly two types of letter, namely Formal Letters, and Informal Letters. But then there are also a few types of letters based on their contents, formalities, the purpose of letter writing etc. Let us have a look at the few types of letters.

Formal Letter

These letters follow a certain pattern and formality. They are strictly kept professional in nature, and directly address the issues concerned. Any type of business letter or letter to authorities falls within this given category.

Informal Letter
These are personal letters. They need not follow any set pattern or adhere to any formalities. They contain personal information or are a written conversation. Informal letters are generally written to friends, acquaintances, relatives etc.

Business Letter


This letter is written among business correspondents, generally contains commercial information such as quotations, orders, complaints, claims, letters for collections etc. Such letters are always strictly formal and follow a structure and pattern of formalities.

Official Letter


This type of letter is written to inform offices, branches, subordinates of official information. It usually relays official information like rules, regulations, procedures, events, or any other such information. Official letters are also formal in nature and follow certain structure and decorum.

Social Letter:


A personal letter written on the occasion of a special event is known as a social letter. A congratulatory letter, condolence letter, invitation letter etc are all social letters.

Circular Letter:


A letter that announces information to a large number of people is a circular letter. The same letter is circulated to a large group of people to correspond some important information like a change of address, change in management, the retirement of a partner etc.

Employment Letters:


Any letters with respect to the employment process, like joining letter, promotion letter, application letter etc.

Letter Writing Tips

Now that we have learned the basics of communicating via letters and the types of letters as well, let us focus on some tips for the actual letter writing.

Letter writing format of Formal Letter

A formal letter must adhere to the prescribed format. The letter writing format of a formal letter is as mentioned below:

Sender’s address
Date
Receiver’s address
Subject
Salutation
Body of the letter
Complimentary closure

Signature line: sender’s name, signature and designation

Sender’s address: One of the most essential components, also known as the return address. It is the mailing address of the sender. The address and contact details of the person sending the letter are written here.

Date: Immediately after the sender’s address comes the date on which the letter is written. Candidates, while writing the letter in the exam, can follow any of the formats to write the dates: DD/MM/YY OR MM/DD/YY.

Receiver’s address: The corresponding address, i.e. the address of the recipient of the mail is written here. Candidates must start with the receivers’ designation followed by the name of the organization and then the full address, Pincode and country (if the information is known).

Subject: This highlights the aim of writing the letter. The subject of the formal letter should be very brief (6 to 8 words) and must be preceded by the word ‘Subject’. The receiver, through the subject, understands the purpose of the letter at a glance.

Salutation: This is a customary greeting to the recipient of the letter. If the name of the recipient is known, the salutation starts with ‘Dear’ followed by Mr/Mrs/Miss, etc. If the person is unknown or even the gender is not known the recipient can be addressed as Dear Sir/Dear Madam.

Body: The most important element of any letter. It furnishes the reason behind writing the letter. For formal letters, candidates should use short, clear, logical paragraphs to state the subject matter. The body of the letter is generally divided into 3 paragraphs:

Introduction that states the main point.
Middle part: Supporting points and details to justify the need and importance of letter writing.
Conclusion: Request for some action or what is expected.

8.Complimentary Closure: This is to end the letter with respect in a polite manner such as ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours sincerely’, etc.

9.Signature Line: This is the last part where the sender of the letter signs off with his first or last name. The signature line may also include a second line for the title or designation of the sender.

Candidates writing formal letters in the exam must remember the following pointers.

Use of colloquial words, short forms, slang language and abbreviations are restricted.
The letter must be to the point, precise and clearly indicating the message.
The subject line is very important in Formal Letters

Letter writing format of Informal Letters

Candidates writing informal letters need to follow the below-mentioned format.

Address
Date
Salutation
Body of the letter
Sender’s name and signature

Address: The sender’s address is important in informal letters. Since informal letters are personal letters and sent to acquaintances or people who are known, the receivers’ address is only mentioned on the envelope carrying the letter.

Date: Same as in a formal letter format.
Salutation in informal letters can be Dear/Dearest/ Hi/Hello followed by the first name/nickname of the recipient.

Body: The body in the informal letters can be long and detailed containing diverse feelings, experiences, advice, news, etc.
Sender’s name and signature are the same as in the formal letters.

Important pointers of Informal letter

The subject line is not required in an Informal Letter.
No prescribed format has to be strictly followed.
The usage of language must be friendly and casual.

1] Identify the type of letter
This obviously is the first step of the letter-writing process. You must be able to identify the type of letter you are to be writing. This will be dictated by the person the letter is addressed to and the information that will be conveyed through the letter. Suppose you were writing to the principal of your college to ask for leave, this would be a formal letter. But say you were writing to your old college professor catching up after a long time. Then this would be a personal informal letter.

2] Make sure you open and close the letter correctly
Opening a letter in the correct manner is of utmost importance. Formal letters open with a particular structure and greeting that is formal in nature. Informal letters can be addressed to the person’s name or any informal greeting as the writer wishes.
Even when closing the letter, it must be kept in mind what type of letter is being written. Formal letters end respectfully and impersonally, whereas informal letters may end with a more personal touch.

3] Establish the main intent of the letter
Once you start writing, make sure to get to the point as soon as possible. Especially in formal letters, it is important to immediately make clear the purpose of the letter.

4] Be careful of the language
A letter is always supposed to be polite and considerate. Even if it is a complaint letter, the point must be made in a careful and courteous manner. So it is necessary to use polite expressions and civil language in all types of letters.

5] Length of the letter
And the other important factor to be considered is the length of the letter you are writing. It should be kept in mind that formal letters are generally to the point, precise and short. Lengthy formal letters tend to not have the desired effect on the reader. The length of an informal letter is determined by the message in the letter and the relation to the recipient.

Video Tutorial on Letter Writing

Solved Example Letter Writing for you:


Q: Alex was to write a letter to her class teacher asking permission to remain absent from school for 2 days on account of some personal matter. What type of letter will he be writing?

Personal Letter
Business Letter
Formal Letter
All of the above

Ans: The correct option is C. While the teacher is a personal acquaintance of Alex, the situation demands a formal letter and not a personal letter.


Format of a Formal Letter


A formal letter has a format which needs to be followed. A typical formal letter format is

Sender’s address
Date
Name / Designation of Addressee
Address of the Addressee
Salutation
Subject
Body – Introduction, Content, Conclusion
Complimentary Close
Signature / Name of the Sender
Designation of the Sender
1.Sample: Letter of enquiry

16 Ring Road
Nagpur – 01


Example of a Formal Letter

November 30, 20xx

The Director
ABC Classes
35 Patel Street
Delhi − 18

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Enquiry about CAT Coaching Classes.

This is with reference to your advertisement in the ‘The Times of India’ for CAT Coaching classes. I have passed the B.Sc. degree examination with Statistics as the main subject. I am keen on joining your institute for the coaching classes.
Kindly let me know about the procedure of applying for the qualifying test and its date. I would also like to know the duration of the coaching programme, the duration and the number of classes per week along with the available mode of classes. Information about the fees payable and the study materials is highly appreciated. Could you please send me a copy of your prospectus?

I would like to enroll as soon as possible. Your early response will enable me to decide fast.

Thanking you.

With kind regards
XYZ

2.Letter of Complaint


Suppose you placed an order of some items. The quality promised and the quality of the items received is not the same. What will you do? You either want to replace them or want your payment back. How can you do so? This is where the letter of complaint comes into play. While writing this type of letter,

One must clearly provide the details of the problem faced
Tell what action you want to be taken
Provide information like the date of arrival of orders, order number, or the details of the previous complaint (if any)
Give a deadline to respond within
Attach a copy or a specimen of the invoice or any other receipt
Use polite yet assertive words regarding complaint issue
Never excuse or make any allegation by self
Let’s look at the format with an example.

Sample of – Letter of complaint.

New Business World
16 Ring Road
Delhi – 01

November 30, 20xx

The Manager
ABC Stationary King
35 Patel Street
Delhi − 18

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Complaint against Order No. S/24-201S-1147.

This is with reference to the Order No. S/24-201S-1147 place on Nov 17, 20xx. The order consists of letterhead and business cards. As per the agreement, we were promised of receiving the order latest by Nov 22, 20xx. First of all the order did not reach in time. Also, the quality of the papers and design selected for business cards is not matching with the selected one.

We have faced a lot of embarrassment and inconvenience and our reputation is at stake in the eyes of our clients.

Kindly ensure that the order will be replaced latest by Dec 4, 20xx, failing which payment will be stopped or the will be cancelled. I sincerely request you to look into the matter and do the needful as soon as possible.

Thanking you.

Yours truly
XYZ
General Manager

Reply to a Letter of Complaint


Suppose sometime you received a letter of complaint and you want to reply to it. It is most important to try to look after such complaints as they may cost you your/ organization’s reputation. How will you do so? How can you provide better customer services? It is important for you to :

Clearly address the problem and the trouble costs to the customer
Apologize for the error on your side
Clearly state the course of actions you will take for the arisen issues and the time until you will do so
Assure the customer for no more future grievances and troubles
Be very clear and specific about every detail
The format of this letter is the same as the formal letter format.

Sample

ABC Stationary King
35 Patel Street
Delhi − 18

December 02, 20xx

The General Manager
16 Ring Road
Delhi – 01

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Reply to the complaint against Order No. S/24-201S-1147.

This is with reference to your Order No. S/24-201S-1147 which you placed with our company on Nov 17, 20xx.

We sincerely apologize to you for the inconvenience caused. Right now we are facing problems with supply from the manufacturer’s end. Also, we are flooded with a large number of orders.

We are taking steps in regard to your complaint and we ensure that we will replace the order latest by Dec 05, 20xx also a similar problem does not occur in future again. We would appreciate your support on this matter.

Thanking You.

Yours Truly
QPR – Manager

  1. Recovery Letters
    There are sometimes times when a company or an organization needs to collect money from a client or a customer. The intention behind writing recovery letters is to recover the money from the customer without bothering or annoying the client. This type of letter includes detailed information regarding the amount of unclear payment, last date of payment of the amount, the detail of the legal action in case of non-payment of the dues. Although it is a recovery letter, one must always keep in mind

The remainder must be in the polite language
The detailed information and the reasons must be clear and understandable by the client
The language should be formal
Provide the detail of legal action in case of non-payment of further delay in clearing the dues
Let’s look at the format with an example.

Sample
ABC Bank
16 Ring Road
Delhi – 01

November 30, 20xx

The Manager
XYA Agency
35 Patel Street
Delhi − 18

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Reminder for paying dues.

This is to remind you that your organization has taken a loan of Rs. 2 crores two years back on June 18. As per the agreement and loan guidelines, on completion of one and a half year, you would need to pay back the 80% of the principal amount with the appropriate interest.

Since now we have received just 50% of the principal amount. As the payment is due since long, we would appreciate it if you send the cheque immediately.

I request you to kindly look into the matter within the next six working days. Otherwise, strict legal action will be taken. Kindly acknowledge the matter.

Thanking You.

Yours Sincerely
FMG
Manager

2.Letter to The Editor :

About Road Problems
You are Raman studying in the Public School of Mumbai. The road leading to your school is full of potholes and also congested. Most of the working-class people are staying in this locality. They are very often stuck in traffic jams. The Government has not taken any action till now for road construction. Write a letter to the Editor of ‘The Times of India’ drawing the attention of the Govt to the issue faced by the people, requesting them for road construction.

Raman
8, Gandhinagar
Mumbai

Dated: 11th January 2018

The Editor
The Times of India
Mumbai

Subject: Construction of Road in Gandhinagar

Sir,

I am Raman, a resident of Gandhinagar. I am writing to you in order to raise the issue people face in my locality due to the bad condition of the road.

The road leading to Public School is so congested throughout the day. It is the main road but there are potholes everywhere on the road. Mainly during the morning hours, people are facing horrible situations when they are going to their workplaces. A Public School is also situated on this road. So, school students and parents get irritated as they are stuck here very often in traffic jams. These locality peoples made many representations to the government, but no action has been taken so far to improve the bad condition of the road. That is why now through this letter we want to draw the attention of the Govt.

As the situation is not good, I request you to highlight it through your newspaper. So that the Govt will take some action to improve the road condition.

Thanking You

Yours sincerely
Raman.

Sample 3 –
Letter To The Editor About Your Problems in Your Locality
You are Vikas, a resident of Mayur Vihar, New Delhi. Write a Letter to the Editor of ‘Hindustan Times’ to highlight the absence of a playground in your locality.

Vikas
120, Mayur Vihar,
New Delhi.

Dated: 8th September 2018

The Editor
Hindustan Times,
New Delhi.

Subject: Absence of playground in our locality

Dear Editor,

I am Vikas, a resident of Mayur Vihar. I am writing to you in order to bring the attention of the concerned authorities towards the absence of the playground and sports facilities in our locality. These are the necessary activities for all age peoples in current times. The increase in pollution, contracting open space due to industrialization, an increase in traffic, etc. have contributed to the decline of the environment and human health. The absence of open spaces in the residential areas and townships has further provoked the issue. The lack of playgrounds and open spaces has deprived the joy of children playing outdoor games. So, it has affected their physical growth and development.

Through the columns of your reputed newspaper, I request the concerned authorities to look into this problem. So that they will provide a playground and sports facilities in our locality.

Thanking You
Yours sincerely
Vikas.

Personal Letter Writing Format:
Format of Personal Letter

Ramen Basu,
Ghatal, Paschim Medinipur, Pin – 721212
Date : 13.02.2019
Respected Uncle/

Dear Ram,
I have received your letter just now. I am very glad to read your letter. In modern days letter writing system becomes fade due to coming of internet and mobile. So I want to thank you at first. It is my pleasure to write you a letter. I want to explain about the ……………………… So I write it here briefly about.

……………………………………………………………..………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………….. I am waiting for your next letter. So you have to reply as soon as possible. Keep it in your mind.

Convey my best regards to your superiors. Convey my lovely blessings to your youngsters. Praying for your positive reply Pray to God for your well days. Having a wish of getting response from you quickly, I have to stop writing now.

With respect, /
With love,

Ram Basu,
C/O Sankar Basu
Vill. – Khanpur
P.O. – Khanpur
P.S. – Ghatal
Dist. – Paschim Medinipur
Pin – 721212

Letter Writing – EXERCISES FOR PRACTISE

  1. Write a letter (within 120 words) to the Editor of an English daily expressing grave concern about the rampant misuse of mobiles especially by the teenagers.

2.Write a letter (within 120 words) to the Editor of an English daily expressing grave concern about the bad condition of road causing accidents in your area

3.Write a letter (within 120 words) to the Editor of an English daily expressing grave concern about giving punishment in educational institutions.

  1. Suppose your brother lives in a boarding school and reads nothing beyond his school books. Write a letter to him advising him to read an English newspaper daily.

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