Descriptive Test - SPLessons

Letter Writing

Chapter 2

SPLessons 5 Steps, 3 Clicks
5 Steps - 3 Clicks

Letter Writing

shape Introduction

What is a Letter?
A Letter is a written piece of communication serving a purpose of the writer. A letter is usually written with the purpose to either provide information, convey a message, request for a task to be done or to report about a situation. Over the years, letter writing has also been an intimate part of people’s life. It was used as a means for creating a lovely relationship between people leaving far apart.

As the communication technology evolved, the importance of letters in the routine communication reduced. However, it is still the mode of communication for official purposes. In addition to that, letters are also used as means to judge the communication ability of the writers. Letters comes in a variety of tones. Hence, it clearly indicates the writer’s response and thought process in every situation. There are organizations which consider letter as a means for judging a candidate’s psychological thought process and communication skills. This document discusses various types of letters that are being used in the routine communication as well as in competitive exams & interviews.

shape Types

Letters are broadly divided into three types as per the receiver to whom it is being addressed. These three types are:

  1. Formal Letters
  2. Semi-Formal Letters
  3. Informal Letters

1. Formal Letters
Formal letters are generally addressed to people with authoritative position or a department as a whole. Formal letters are meant for reporting about a problem or persuading to solve the problem. They are written in a formal tone avoiding any kind of slang words or casual language. It is crisp and concise.

2. Semi-Formal Letters
Semi-Formal letters, as the name suggests, are addressed to people who are related to you in professional context or at least socially but not close enough to have a casual talk. These people might be your peers, some social activists, a service provider or your child’s teacher or professor. These letters involve a slightly casual tone mixed with formal salutations and language. The letter Is concise yet has friendly tone.

3. Informal Letters
Informal letters are written to any acquaintances you know closely. For instance, letter to family members, friends or colleagues. These letters are written in a friendly tone and use of slangs are allowed to a certain extent. However, the coherence in every point is equally important as for the previous two types of letter.
The differences tones of writing involved in each type of letter is detailed in the figure below.

shape Structure

Structure of Different types of Letter
Just like any written form of communication, even Letter is expected to follow a specific format, a specific structure to appear appealing and convey information effectively. The structure helps you frame your thoughts and pen them down in a coherent manner. Any type of letter is it formal or informal, has a message to convey. It may or may not have a plan of action to be suggested. In a competitive exam, a letter topic is generally provided in the below format:

Write a letter to your friend to let the friend know about your recent job change. Mention:

  • The reason for change
  • The new position you got
  • How is your new job life

Write a letter to the Police department to report loss of an item. Mention:

  • What was the item?
  • Where did you lose it?
  • What is the action you would like the police to take on it?

As it can be seen in the topics above, an essay needs to convey information on multiple points. Hence, the structure to be followed for each type is as below:

1. Salutation:
Salutation is your initiation of communication. It is meant to politely and respectively greet the reader or receiver. In the present day scenario, people use “Dear” as the communication prefix in the salutation. Depending on the type of letter, the following words differ in the salutation.

In formal letters, we generally do not know the exact person to whom the letter might be addressed to. Hence, we avoid addressing it to a person directly. Thus, we use “Dear Sir/Madam” as a common salutation for formal letters. Occasionally, we might be aware of the gender of the opposite person. In such cases, we can use “Dear Sir” or “Dear Mam” accordingly.

In semi-formal letters, we usually know the receiving person by name. Hence, the salutation used in case of semi-formal letter is “Dear Mr. XYZ” or “Dear Mrs. ABC”.

Informal letters are addressed to close relatives and acquaintances. Hence, the salutation generally contains address to the first name. For instance, “Dear John” is a valid Informal salutation

2. Introduction:
Every letter is divided into small paragraphs. Introduction is the first paragraph containing a brief explanation of the purpose of letter. It is generally re-phrasing and elaboration of the main topic at hand. Introduction is expected to begin with polite greeting in case of Informal or Semi-formal letters while it begins with a one sentence introduction about you in case of formal letter.

I am resident of ABC street located near XYZ mall.
I am the leader of Labour Union of XYZ company

Semi-Formal & Informal
Hope this letter finds you in good health
Hope you are doing great today
It’s a pleasure to write you again

The purpose is written in a terse manner using two to three sentences. It is meant to draw the attention of receiver towards the further information. It also helps the reader identify the priority of the letter in real-life context. A sample introduction for the above formal topic of the letter can be written as:

Dear Sir/Mam,
I am a resident of Park Street area. I am writing this letter to report the loss of my briefcase. The briefcase contained some highly confidential documents which are of great value for my business. It was brown in colour with my company logo “Medtech” embossed on it.

3. Section 1
The next section that follows is meant for the second bullet point ideally. The paragraph begins with words like “I would like to report”, “I have been facing an issue”, “I am glad to inform that”, “I was travelling by bus last evening” and so on. This sets the context of further sentences. This is followed by information about the second bullet point. A sample Section 1 paragraph of the Formal letter can be written as:

I lost the briefcase while commuting by the metro train last evening. Being a Sunday, the crowd in the metro was less. Hence, I placed my briefcase on the seat by my side. I was travelling for Park Street to Salt Lake City. I took a short nap during this long journey. When I woke up, I found out that my briefcase wasn’t where I placed it.

4. Section 2
This section would usually suggest future plan of action or will be used to show gestures to the reader like inviting to your place, asking for the reader’s appointment, requesting a suggestion on some point and so on. The section can contain 4-5 lines depending on what you plan to write. It also depends on the context and purpose of writing. One can provide the actions to be done in the form of a numbered or bulleted list or as a coherent paragraph depending on the need. A sample Section 2 paragraph of the Formal letter can be written as:

I remember being awake until the Rippon Street station. Hence, the bag should have been picked up after that around 8:30pm. I would request you to follow up with the metro station teams if you could get a lead on the briefcase from the camera footages.

5. Conclusion
The concluding section is a closure of the letter with a thanking gesture or a closing statement along with a brief good bye signature. For the formal letter being considered here, we can conclude it as below:

I hope to hear from you soon. In case you need my co-operation in finding the same, I would be available as per need.

Thanking you for your time.

Yours’ sincerely,

The closing greeting is an important part of the letter. It is important to understand which signature could be used in what context. Ideally, the words “sincerely” and “faithfully” are used in a formal or semi-formal context if the opposite person is a stranger or a higher authority. However, in case of an informal letter, “Yours’ truly” or “Best regards” or “Best wishes” helps it close better. A detailed list of closing statements and signature is given below:

Closing Statements:

Formal Letter Informal Letter
Looking forward to hear from you soon I can’t wait to hear from you
Awaiting a positive response It would be a pleasure to have you home
Thank you for your precious time Hope you get well soon
You have been a great asset to us. Thank you Appreciate your help in this regards
Looking forward to a great partnership Hope to see you soon
Eagerly awaiting your to close the deal with you I am sure you will make it to the party
Thanking you for your generous contribution Eagerly waiting for the great news

Signature Statements:

Formal Letter Informal Letter
Your sincerely (used in a more general context) Yours’ truly
Best regards (used in a semi-formal context) Best wishes
Best (used with clients) Hugs
Yours faithfully (ideally used when addressing government authorities) Yours’ lovingly (used when addressing close relatives)

shape Do's / Dont's

Do’s and Don’ts for a Letter
There are certain important facts that need to be taken care of when you write a letter. Below table summarizes these facts in order to help you as a quick guideline for writing a letter.

Do’s Don’ts
Prepare an outline before you start writing Avoid slangs especially in formal letters
Structure your letter in the order to mentioned points Avoid complex sentences
Keep your sentences as simple as possible Do not change the order of points and do not mix information in a single paragraph
Use a maximum of 6 sentences per paragraph Do not elaborate it as a story. Be concise
Use appropriate salutation as per the gender of the reader if applicable Do not use extreme words like (horrendous, disastrous and others) in a formal context
Write it in a clear and readable format Do not pen down your feelings in formal letters. Keep them in a neutral tone
Leave sufficient whitespace between words Do not make the information redundant
Use a single line closing statement at the end with a signature Use a range of vocab. Don’t stick to the same word more often.
For competitive exams, it is not important to use genuine information. However, write the letter in a natural way without making it incoherent It is OK to have an extra paragraph if there is an additional point. However, do not create too short paragraphs(1-2 lines)

shape Conclusion

This concludes the detailed explanation and guidance on Letter – The oldest mode of communication.