The art of letter writing


Pages_MacThe ability to write a letter correctly, either on paper or via email, is an essential life skill.

There are two main styles of letter; formal and informal.
Formal letters should be used when writing to business, organisations, newspapers, and for job applications. Informal letters should only be used for friends and family. When writing a letter it is important to use the right sort of language and layout, depending on what you want it to achieve.
A letter that is clearly written, neatly laid out and uses easy to understand language is much more likely to get you what you want than a poorly constructed and badly organised letter.

When writing a formal letter-:

1. Put your address in the top right hand corner of the page.
2. Put the date underneath the address.
3. If you don’t know the person’s name, start the letter with Dear Sir, Dear Madam, or Dear Sir or Madamor and finish with Yours faithfully.
4. If you do know the person’s name, start the letter Dear Mr/Mrs (put the person’s surname here) and finish with Yours sincerely.
5. Begin your letter by stating why you are writing, and then follow with further details.
6. Conclude your letter by indicating what you’d like to happen next. For example, you could end with the line, ‘I look forward to hearing from you soon.’

When writing an informal letter-:

1. Put your address in the top right hand corner of the page.
2. Put the date underneath the address.
3. Start the letter with Dear, followed by the person’s name.
4. Finish the letter with Best wishes, Regards, Yours, From, or even Love from if you know them well.

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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