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[Word Wise] Letter Writing Basics: Formal or Informal, Print or Electronic?
February 06, 2014

Word Wise Newsletter

Copywriting Basics and Writing Techniques to Help You Write Better

Volume 10, Number 3 ... ISSN: 1933-9690

Dear fellow writers,

Welcome back to Word Wise! Once or twice a month, we’ll send you this newsletter packed with practical and useful writing tips and copywriting basics to use whether you’re a marketing professional, nonprofit leader, or copywriting newbie -- to help you write better.

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FEATURE: Letter Writing Basics: Formal or Informal, Print or Electronic?

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.

Before you write one word, you need to make two decisions about your letter.

Decision #1: Style - Formal or Informal?

To decide which style is appropriate for your letter, identify your audience and the point of your letter.

Write a formal letter if you’re writing to … (read the parameters to know when to write a formal letter or an informal letter.)

Decision #2: Medium - Print, Electronic, or Handwritten?

The medium you choose for your letter follows the degree of formality. Write an email when you … (read the parameters to know when to use print, email, or a handwritten letter.)

Find more guidelines to writing letters well on our Basics About Writing Letters page. And get more great letter writing tips on our Writing Letters Pinterest board.

Layout: Which Letter Writing Format Should You Choose for Your Letter?

A letter writing format is a standard layout – a widely-accepted way to organize a letter. Business letters (including cover letters, appeal letters, acceptance letters, and resignation letters) follow one of four basic formats.

  1. Block format. All parts of the letter are set flush against the left margin.
  2. Modified block format. Heading and closing elements of the letter are indented to the right side of the page. Remaining elements are set flush left.
  3. Indented format. Heading, closing, and the first line of each paragraph in the body are indented. Remaining elements are set flush left.
  4. Memorandum format. Letter heading elements are placed flush left as in a memo.

Learn more details about each letter writing format so you can choose which one is right for your letter.

More about Writing Letters Well

The Kinds of Letters Copywriters Write: A Glossary What are the Parts of a Letter? How to Write the Perfect Donor Thank You Letter Basic Letter Writing Format: 4 Standard Layouts

Finally ... A Wise Word

"And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good."
John Steinbeck (1902-1968), American author

Check out our Inspiring Quotes board on Pinterest for more words of wisdom.

That’s it for now. See you next time!

Good writing matters,

Kathy with Nonprofit Copywriter
Email me with your comments and questions!

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