General Tips for Writing Letters

With the advent of email, it is becoming less and less common to write letters, but the few letters that you will write will probably be important ones, such as cover letters for job applications, cover letters for questionnaires or surveys which are part of your research, or letters of complaint to your bank manager.

  • Decide what degree of formality your letter requires. It will depend on your relationship with the recipient. If you are writing to a person with whom you plan to have a professional relationship, the letter should be formal. If you’re writing to a co-worker or a person you don’t know, you should probably write it in a semi-formal style.
  • Choose the way you want to write the letter: handwritten or by e-mail. Most formal letters are typed and sent through the post. For semi-formal letter, you need to make the call. The person will tell you the preferable type of communication. If you are not sure, make your letter handwritten. For informal letters, all types are acceptable.
  • Be concise and keep to the point, but include all important information. Some editors noticed that a third of the words in a typical letter are wasted. Remove needless words and sentences and avoid repeating anything. The main purpose of writing a letter is to make a reader understand the information and take an action. Stick to the points you want your reader to pay attention to.
  • Be clear. While writing a letter, be focused on the reason for composing it and what you want this letter to do. Your reason should be absolutely clear as to you as for the receiver. Keep the recipient in mind, and write in a way that can be easily understood.
  • Organize your information logically. Create separate paragraphs for each related group of information. In a long information letter, organize information into sections with subheads.
  • Be courteous. Try to imagine your receiver and how you might construct your conversation face-to-face. When speaking to the reader be sure to sound respectful and reasonable.
  • Use nouns and verbs. Instead of “I definitely believe that the deal will be very successful,” write “I know the deal will succeed.” The second sentence is both stronger and shorter.
  • Use a positive tone. Such words like “won’t,” “don’t” is only used for denying. For example, it is better to say “We will decide the next week” instead of “We can’t decide until the next week.”
  • Be respectful when you write, even if you are writing a letter of complaint.
  • Be specific. Try to keep your letter short enough so that it fits on one page. If your letter is more than a page long, use another page – don’t use the back of the page.
  • Write actively. To write a good letter, use active voice whenever its appropriate.
  • Even if you write about things that were done, you can make them active. For example: instead of : “The order will be sent to you” write : “I will send the order.”
  • Don’t use abbreviated dates. For example: use November 19, 2004, and not 11/19/04.
  • Be correct. Every mistake in the text will make your credibility fall. The more mistakes the letter contains, the more distracted your reader will be while reading your letter. Always proofread your letter after writing, check sentence spelling mistakes, grammar, structure, punctuation. Proofread your letter one more time after you have written it. Don’t give a chance to the reader to make a conclusion that you are careless person and your letter doesn’t deserve attention.

No matter how you send the letter, email or by post, the real matter is how you write the letter. knowing how to write a letter is a fundamental skill you’ll use in school, business, in personal relationships, and in general communication. To write effectively and to make sure your readers understand what you mean, keep the tips defined above in mind.