Writing forma lettersDear reader,  in this lesson we will help you with some basic rules and tricks you need to know when writing a formal letter....

 

WRITING FORMAL LETTERS

When writing letters there are two basic ways in which you can write a letter: formal and informal. Today we are going to deal with WRITING FORMAL BUSINESS LETTERS.

Writing letters, especially the formal ones, can be tricky because all the ‘’mistakes’’ are right in front of the person who is reading the letter, whereas when we speak the ‘’small’’ mistakes are ignored and forgiven...

We could divide formal business letters into three main groups, according to their purpose:

a) a job application letter

b) an enquiry or reply letter

c) a letter of complaint or apology

This lesson will cover the basic layout, language styles and useful phrases that can help you when writing a formal business letter.

LAYOUT

When writing a formal business letter, you should always follow the standard format. In the general example below you can see where the main components (a-g) should appear on the page.

A formal business letter should always have the following components:

a) letterhead / address of the writer

b) name and address of recipient

c) date

d) opening

e) body of the letter

f) closing

g) signature (name and job title)

LANGUAGE STYLES

You should avoid a conversational style, e.g. you should not use contractions (instead of writing We’re very pleased... you should write We are very pleased... ). Try to avoid the passive voice, instead, use the active voice to make your letter more dynamic. Use clear and short sentences, and avoid complicated or unnecessary sentence constructions. You should not go around the topic or sidetrack, stay on the topic and be straightforward. Divide your letter into meaningful paragraphs and always check your spelling before ‘’finishing’’ the letter.

Opening

In English, letters always start with Dear. If you don’t know the name of the recipient, you should start the letter with Dear Sir or Madam. If you know the name, you can begin with Dear Mr / Ms Franklin or Dear John Franklin.

Closing

There are standard ways of closing a letter. At the end of your letter you should include a short sentence like I look forward to hearing from you or If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at any time. Below the ‘’ending’’ sentence you should put a closing phrase depending on the opening you used:

a) Yours sincerely (formal: if you used Dear + name in the opening)

b) Yours faithfully (formal: if you used Dear Sir/Madam in the opening)

c) Yours truly / Best regards / Best wishes (less formal)

 

USEFUL PHRASES

Thank you for taking time...

Regarding the question...

Following our recent telephone conversation...

I am writing to you to confirm...

I am enclosing full contact details.

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

enc = shows that something is enclosed

PS = for additional sentence(s) included after the signature

We hope this lesson helped you and that you have learned something new and useful. Join us next time and learn how to write formal e-mails.

Yours truly,

 

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