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English Letter Writing Format: We have learned the basics of English Letter Writing. How about we now break the format down and see what to do to make our letter better and what to avoid?
Like with any written material, there are certain rules to follow while writing a letter. This is more important for formal letters than for informal letters. Hence, here we will focus on the format of a formal letter. We’ll touch upon the informal letter tips at the end.

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English Letter Writing Format: Breakdown of Format

To get a clearer idea of how to write a formal letter in the best way, let us take the sample given here.

Address of Sender

english letter writing format

Here, the first line starts with the name of the sender. It is essential to include this first. Sending a letter without telling who it’s being sent by, especially in formal letters, is a huge error. During exams that have letter writing as a question, if the question doesn’t contain details like the name and address of the sender, you can write as above. That is name, address, etc represented by letters.

Of course, make sure that your address – spelling of the name, place where you live, PIN Code are all accurate!

Date

english letter writing format

Dates are important for reference. You can write the dates in the DD/MM/YYYY format but it is better to write it as above. This format lends a neater and cleaner look to the letter.

Address of Receiver

english letter writing format

The first line of the address for the receiver should always be their designation. Next comes the team/department/office they work at. Then the organisation/company name and the rest is the same as before.

Subject and Salutation

For subject, keep in mind- it should be as short and to the point as possible. Do not have a subject of more than one line. The receiver should be able to understand what the intention of the letter is immediately.

Salutation comes from the french word ‘salut‘ meaning ‘hello’. It basically refers to the greeting used with people. You can do the salutation for a formal letter in two ways-

  1. As shown above. Write the title of the person (Sir/Ma’am). If you aren’t aware of who it is to be addressed to (for example, when writing to the HR head of a company to send your resume) you can use ‘to whomsoever it may concern’. After that, you can write you greeting.
  2. You can write the greeting and the title together as shown below:

Greetings Ma’am,

Both are acceptable. Some suggest using ‘Dear’ to address the receiver, but it is best to keep it formal.

Body

Always start by introducing yourself. Your name and then your class/department/etc. Then write the reason for the letter and add essential details that are required. For ex. the date when you wish to be granted your leave.

The body should be a maximum of 2-3 paragraphs, having around 2-3 sentences each. Try to make your point in as few words as possible with out compromising on the flow or grammar. In case of requests for leave, scholarships, funds, etc, make sure to state your reason clearly. Give maximum details so that the receiver does not have any doubts about what is being asked or said.

It is important to keep the tone polite. Letters of requests especially should be polite as they’re often written to somebody senior than yourself.

Proofread your letter to remove any small errors. Giving a letter with spelling mistakes will show casualness and may not make a good impression. This is important especially for job enquiries and resume submissions.

Closing Paragraph and End Salutation

Closing Paragraph

Even if the intent of the letter is something urgent, it is best to close with something that is polite. Like the line shown above. Here are a few alternatives you can use to close your letter:

  • Thank you for your time and consideration. Hoping to hear from you soon.
  • Due to time constraints, I would be much obliged if I hear your opinions very soon.
  • I would be highly obliged if you grant me permission for the above.
  • It would be a great pleasure to us if you accepted our humble invitation.
  • My sincerest gratitude for your time and assisstance. Looking forward to working with you.

and so on.

Words to keep in mind: obliged, request, grant, pleasure, sincerest, consideration, hope/hoping, loking forwards

These words carry a polite and positive tone and are very useful in giving the letter a very meaningful ending.

End Salutation

The end salutation is basically what closes your letter. Usually, a sentence for ‘Thanking you’ will follow the closing paragraph. Then comes the ending salutation. The following are the classic phrases to use when closing your letter:

  • Yours Sincerely
  • Yours Faithfully
  • Warm/Warmest Regards
  • Appreciatively
  • Respectfully

and more. Remember, do not end your formal letter with informal terms like ‘love’.

English Letter Writing Format: Tips for Writing Letters

English Letter Writing Format: Tips for Formal Letters

Let us compile all that we’ve learned about formal letters and how to write them:

  • Writing the name of the sender before writing their address. Address should be accurate.
  • Date in the format shown would be the best way to write the date.
  • Address of the receiver should begin with their designation. Then the department they’re related to and the organisation they work at.
  • Subject should be a single liner and should cover the content concisely.
  • Opening salutations should be done as shown.
  • Begin body with self introduction and reason for letter. Should contain information within 2-3 paragraphs.
  • Tone should be polite and body should be free of nay spelling or grammar errors.
  • Closing paragraph should show appreciation and should have a polite tone. Variations are as given above.
  • End salutations can be as given above and should not be informal.

English Letter Writing Format: Tips for Informal Letters

Here are a few tips for informal letters, if and when you’d need it.

  • You only need to include the address of the sender. Address of receiver is not necessary.
  • No subject needs to be included. It is an informal communication and does not need to be short.
  • No restrictions on lengtth.
  • You can begin the greetings by asking about the receiver and how they are, how their family is, etc.
  • Try to split the letter into paragraphs for easy reading.
  • Ending with ‘love’, ‘fondly’, etc.

English Letter Writing Format: Conclusion

So that’s all for the details of writing a letter. You will get a hang of it when you try and practice it with real life situations. Books like Wren and Martin provide many sample questions which you can use as prompts to practice. Not only is letter writing an essential tool in general, for many bank and goverenment exam aspirants, it is a skill that will come in handy in many administrative based situations.

We hope you found this blog useful in your letter writing endeavours. Make sure to check our website where we’ll soon be launching some brand new courses! Don’t miss out!

English Letter Writing Format: Frequently Asked Questions

What are formal letters used for?

Formal letters are those which are used for communication in professional setting. These can be:
1. Requesting leave
2. Referral Letters
3. Performance Reports
4. Cover Letters
5. Notices and circlulars
6. Invitations

What is the purpose of a subject line in formal letters?

Subject lines are used to give a one-line summary of the reason for the letter. This helps provide context to the reader even without reading the body of the letter.

How long can the body be in a formal letter?

The body of a formal letter should be limited to 2-3 paragraphs, each of 2-4 sentences maximum. The body should be as short as possible without compromising on the grammar or information.

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