With the advent of the Internet, letter writing has become almost a lost art. While letter-writing encouraged people to focus on the structure, composition, and style of the content, today’s emails and text messages have made people communicate without such considerations since the only aim is to be as brief and succinct as possible. If you find yourself needing to write a letter, here are some tips to make sure it’s a good one.
Type of letter
First, you need to decide the type of letter you wish to write. Formal letters have to be kept concise and must follow the proper form and existing rules of letter writing. Such letters include those written to governments, businesses, employers, etc. In contrast, informal letters do not have to follow any structure or form since these are targeted at people close to your heart — like parents, siblings, friends, and so on. You are free to write as you wish.
It is important that you explicitly mention the intent of the letter within the first paragraph. This is a must-follow rule in the case of formal letters. If the person opening the letter does not understand why it is being written, they might set it aside to look at later or even forget about it altogether.
The language should be polite and matter-of-fact even if you find the content being described infuriating. For informal letters, you have a little leeway in how you express yourself. But remember to always remain within limits of publicly accepted codes of civility.
The length of a letter is largely irrelevant, whether it be a formal or informal one. An exception is that you should only mention the necessary facts in formal letters. Whether these facts turn out to take a page or 20 pages is not an issue. In the case of formal letters taking up more than a page or two, consider summarizing important points at the beginning.
A good letter always follows a proper form. First, write the date. Next, mention the complimentary address. After these two details, write the body of the letter. Then, create the complimentary closing. As the final step, add in the signature and superscription. You should use this structure for formal letters. But if you are writing informal letters, you can get away with just writing the body and then signing off with your name.
A letter should never contain ink blots. Such letters often give the impression that they were written by someone lacking experience or someone who could not be bothered with following proper customs. This can turn out to be bad if you are writing to a person or organization with the aim being for them to develop a positive impression of you. Imagine applying for the post of a professor at a college and the administrator finding several blots in the letter that make it look shabby and unprofessional!