The Basics About Writing Letters

Writing letters – and writing them well – is a mainstay in daily communication, both in your professional life and your personal life.

No matter where you are on the scale of learning to write better, you will accelerate the process by learning more about how to write letters.

Advantages to Letters as Communication

  • Clarity. Writing a letter requires you to think carefully about what you wish to communicate and then put it down clearly.
  • Documentation. When it comes to comparing communicating by print or by telephone, a letter (and its electronic cousin, the email) provide a permanent record of communication. Unless a phone call is tape recorded, you have no physical record of its content. Further, the printed record of a letter gives you the opportunity to review your content and also provides legal documentation when necessary.
  • Gravity. A letter communicates more serious intent over other mediums. 
  • Universality. You needn’t have special devices to send a letter (other than paper and pen) or receive one (other than a mailing address.)

Cover Letter Cartoon from My Marketing Thing

Style: Which Approach Should You Choose for Your Letter?

A letter is written correspondence from one person or organization to another. It can take a formal approach or an informal approach. To decide which style is appropriate for your letter, identify your audience and the point of your letter.

Audience

Write a formal letter if you’re writing to …

  • a government official
  • a prospective employer
  • an academic institution or official
  • a client

Write a semi-formal letter or an informal letter if you’re writing to …

  • your current employer
  • a co-worker
  • a colleague
  • a friend
  • a relative

Point of your letter

Write a formal letter if you’re …

  • conducting business outside your firm
  • applying for a job
  • applying for a grant
  • asking for a sale or gift
  • resigning from a job
  • lodging a complaint
  • making an official request

Write a semi-formal letter or an informal letter if you’re …

  • conducting business within your firm
  • expressing thanks

Medium: How to Send Your Letter

You have three options:  you can send a printed letter, an email, or a handwritten note. The medium you choose for your letter follows the degree of formality.

Send a printed letter when you are …

  • conducting business outside your firm
  • applying for a job
  • applying for a grant
  • asking for a sale or gift
  • resigning from a job
  • lodging a complaint
  • making an official request

Send an email when …

  • your business is time-sensitive
  • your recipient has chosen to communicate primarily by email

Send a handwritten letter when …

  • you’re sending a thank you note


More about writing letters and letter writing formats

Basic letter writing format: four standard layouts ...

The parts of a letter ...

Kinds of letters copywriters write: a glossary ...

Writing a good cover letter: a step-by-step writing guide ...

Top Cover Letter Writing Tip: get the reader to take the next step ...

Letter writing tip: try this opening line ...

How to write a P.S. with punch ...

What your fundraising letter must have ...

3 appeal copywriting formulas ...

How to write the perfect donor thank you letter ...

How to write an annual contribution summary letter ...

More letter writing tips on our Pinterest board ...


Return from The Basics about Writing Letters to Nonprofit Copywriter home

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Powered by SBI! Learn more here.

Search This Site


Share This Page



Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • XML RSS
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!