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Rabu, 11 November 2009

Formal letter writing

Formal letter writing is one of the most challenging types of letter writing, as often you are addressing a person or organisation with whom you ar enot familiar and the quality of your content, spelling and grammar will be scrutinised.

In contemporary society there is a trend to use a shorthand writing style, for instance replacing the word "you" with "u" or replacing the word "weekend" with "wkend", there are many other examples. This casual approach and informal writing style can easily be easily transferred, even subconsciously, when a more formal style is required.

Layout of a Formal Letter
The example formal letter below details the general layout that a formal letter should conform to. Each aspect of the formal letter is detailed more fully below the image.

Formal Letter Writing Conventions

There are a number of conventions that should be adhered to when producing a formal letter. It is important that the overall structure is as clear and concise as possible and that you avoid the use of colloquialisms.


1) The Address of the person you are writing to
This address should be displayed in the top right-hand section of your letter, remember to include the name of the person that you are writing to.

2) Your Address
You must always remember to include your own address on the left-hand side of the page beneath the address of the person that you are sending the letter to. This will enable the person that you are writing to, to reply to your letter.

This should be displayed on the right-hand side of the page on the line beneath your address ans should be written in full format:
e.g. 1st January 2001 .

Salutation & Greeting:

1) Dear Sirs,
If you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, use the greeting "Dear Sirs,". In some circumstances it is useful to find a name, especially if you are writing to make a request.

2) Dear Mr Jones,
If you know the name, use one of the followind titles:
Mr - for a male
Mrs - for a married female
Miss - for an unmarried female
Ms - for a female whose status is unknown or would prefer to remain anonymous
Dr - for a person with the status of a doctor
followed by the surname only (not the first name).

Concluding a Letter:

1) Yours faithfully,
If you do not know the name of the person, end the letter with "Yours faithfully,".

2) Yours sincerely,
If you know the name of the person, end the letter with "Yours sincerely,".

3) Your signature
Sign your name, then print it underneath the signature. If it is potentially unclear what your title would be then include this in brackets next to your printed name.

Content of a Formal Letter

Introductory Paragraph
The introductory paragraph should be concise and should clearly state the purpose of the formal letter whether that is to lodge a complaint, make an enquiry or to request something.

Main Body
The main body of the formal letter should contain state the points that you want to make in your letter. As a general rule it is a good idea to keep this as to the point as possible to ensure that the receipient remains engaged. Longer letters may be more appropriate when making a complaint as you may require to add more detail in order to convey the importance of what you are putting accross.

Concluding Paragraph
The concluding paragraph of a formal letter should outline what action you would like the recipient to take: to make a refund, to send you information etc.

Application of Formal Letter Writing Techniques

Letter of Complaint

A letter of complaint is a formal letter sent to an individual or organisation in response to receiving poor service or a product that is not fit for purpose. An example of a letter of complaint would be a letter sent to a tour operator who has provided a bad service while you have been on holiday. This type of formal letter does not neccessarily need to be concise as it is important that you detail your arguments and points as much as possible.

Letter of Enquiry

A letter of enquiry is a formal letter that makes an approach to an individual or organisation either speculatively or in response to printed public domain material whereby you are requestion some information. An example of a letter of enquiry would be a letter sent to an company requesting a copy of their catalogue or brochure. By their very nature letters of enquiry are short and to the point, it is usually beneficial to include other methods of contact incase the company needs to get in touch with you in a more efficient manner.

Letter of Request

A letter of reuest is a formal letter much like a letter of enquiry but specifically asks an individual or organisation to take an action. An example os a letter of request would be a letter sent to request sponsorship for a charity activity. It is important to stress the importance of being clear and concise with this format of letter as the receipient must remain engaged and interested in what you have to say.

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