How Difficult Is Writing an Official Letter?
Official letters or formal letters as they are otherwise known as are the kind of letters we write to people who we don’t really know or who we are not used to. Whereas writing is divided into all kinds of different categories, one of the main dividers is between informal and formal writing. Official writing includes business writing, formal letters, and academic writing. Although business writing and academic writing have their own differences, all official writing shares features where the language you use must be formal or official.
This is where many people will start to find themselves in a bit of a quandary over what should be included and how to write official letters. Simply taking the time to check out an official letter writing sample can help by showing you the format and the type of wording to use, but that’s not all you need to know.
Our experts have written some tips to help you along.
- Understanding the Purpose of the Letter. Why are you writing in the first place? What is it that you want the reader to do after reading your letter? Is it to complain about bad service or a faulty product? Are you trying to get hired? Once you know this, cut everything out that doesn’t serve to help that purpose.
- Who is the Letter For? Knowing who will be reading your letter sets the language and target your ideas more precisely. Don’t use jargon that the reader won’t understand.
- Keep it Short. Your letter has a better chance of being read if you keep your letter to one page. Long letters with long paragraphs and complex sentences look overwhelming and a busy reader will more often than not put it aside for when they have more time and then maybe forget about it. Use short paragraphs, short sentences and short words.
- Use Simple Language. The main aim of writing your letter is to be understood. Even if the intended reader is highly educated, you should refrain from using big words and long complex sentences. Official or formal writing doesn’t need you to use big words or try to sound sophisticated. Be clear with what you want to say.
- Start Off With the Most Important Point. Start your letter with the idea or the information that you need the reader to focus or act upon. The first paragraph may be the only one they read, do not wait until the last paragraph to state your point.
- Follow the Rules. There are rules for the formatting of all official correspondence. If you want your letter to be taken seriously, then you need to know how to write official letter:
- Return address and date in the top right hand corner. This is where your reader is going to look to find your address and the date the letter was written, so it should always be there.
- Address of recipient one line below on the left side.
- Salutation or greeting two lines below the recipient’s address. The person the letter is intended for.
- Body of the letter which comes in three parts. The introduction that should explain who you are and why you are writing, a second part that gives the details and a closing part that tells your reader what action you expect or would like them to take.
- Sign off or valediction should be on the left two lines below the body. If you don’t know the readers name, sign off with “Faithfully yours” If you do know the recipient’s name, use “Yours Sincerely” or just “Sincerely”.
- Signature over your printed name. Signing your name is an assurance that you stand behind what was written. Since most signatures are difficult to read, type your name down a couple of lines so that your reader knows who is writing to them.
- Enclosures if any, below signature block. List the number of items and describe them. E.g. Enclosures (2); brochure, price sheet.
“In the end, this is all about respect for your recipient. If you’re offering a real solution to a real problem, people want to know about it. By following proper and well-understood formats and keeping your writing clear and engaging, you’re making it easier for them to solve their problem. Provided that you’re honest and have the skills and talents to back up your claims, writing a good, solid letter makes it more likely that both you and your reader will be satisfied” Dustin M. Wax. Author, Professor and Anthropologist.
Find out 5 creative ways you can improve your informal letter!
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