Don’t you miss the good old days, when you had to wait for weeks before the person replied to you? The anticipation of what they might say in itself was a thrill. Additionally, in a world where texting or emails didn’t exist, you could control yourself from sending impulsive, yet regrettable messages to people.
Perhaps, this is why some individuals still prefer writing personal letters instead of sending emails or texts. Personal letters are relatively formal and allow the writer to carefully think before sending them impulsively. This type of communicative writing can include business letters, social letters and letters of recommendation.
As personal letters are slightly formal, you are required to follow a certain set of rules when you write them. These rules focus on the structure, punctuation, the language and the overall tone of writing. So, before you start writing a personal letter, consider the following tips:
Follow the correct structure of Letter writing
As a writer, you are required to follow the standard structure of letter writing, the constituents of which are listed below:
Your full name along with your position, address, and date
The first thing you are required to write is your full name. In a traditional personal letter, written for a formal setting, your full name, as well as your address, must be presented on the right corner of the page. In case you are writing a personal letter in a professional situation, make sure that you add your position below your name, and above your address. Lastly, you can conclude this section by adding the date. For example:
5301 Boar Lane
SHADWELL, IP24 1RR
078 9395 3943
7 February 2020
However, if you are writing the letter for an informal purpose, you can add your personal information on the left side of the page. In informal letters, you do not have to add your position. For instance:
5301 Boar Lane
SHADWELL, IP24 1RR
078 9395 3943
7 February 2020
The full name, position, and address of the person receiving your letter.
In this section, you are required to follow the same pattern. However, the recipient’s personal information must be added on the left side of the page. The pattern includes writing the person’s name, position, as well as their complete address. For instance, you can write:
CDB Buildable Ltd
Wakefield Rd, Barnsley, S71 1NH
012 6567 70400
A warm and sentimental greeting
Following the address, you are required to write a warm greeting for the receiver. In formal letters, the use of Mr or Ms is preferred. Although you can use ‘Dear’ ‘Hello’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’, the greeting should be followed by their last name. Using the above example, you can start your letter with the greeting, ‘Dear Mr Welford’.
A subject line
If you are writing a personal letter in a professional setting, it is extremely important to add a subject line. This line summarises the objective, as well as the purpose of the letter. In an organisational setting, the subject line reflects the urgency or the importance of the letter sent. The recipient can read this summary and prioritise it accordingly.
The subject line should be as brief as possible. You must only dedicate one line to this section by using a limited number of words to get your point across. For example, you can write:
“Employee Mental Health and Wellness Workshop- Timings Issue”
An introductory paragraph
The introduction of the letter discusses the primary purpose of the letter. In the opening paragraph, you are required to add one line which informs the reader about the objective of the letter. For example, you can write,
“I am writing this letter to discuss the details of the employee mental health and wellness workshop. As you know, I have an extremely busy schedule. Hence, I am only available on Tuesdays and Fridays, between the hours of 2 -4. I hope you can find a slot between those hours.”
Following the introduction, you can use the body paragraphs to further elaborate on the issue or highlight the less significant details that you would also like to discuss. In a formal personal letter, make sure that you maintain a formal, sophisticated tone. Additionally, you are required to write brief, to-the-point statements to ensure that your writing does not come across as boring. Using the previous example, you can write:
“I would further like to confirm the number of employees that are attending the workshop, as my program requires calculated measurements. Please forward the list of names as soon as you can. Furthermore, I spoke to Priscilla on the phone this afternoon. She has asked to set up a meeting.”
In case you are writing an informal letter, you can add as many details as you want. However, make sure that you dedicate a paragraph to discuss each issue in detail. In an informal personal letter, you also have the liberty of changing your tone, so you do not have to write formally.
A concluding paragraph (for an informal personal letter)
The concluding paragraph is only added in an informal personal letter. Similar to academic writing, the conclusion includes a summary of everything you have stated above. It also includes a statement that urges the person to reply to you quickly. For example, if you have written a letter to your friend, you can shape your concluding paragraph in the following manner.
“I really miss our long conversations and visits to the nearby park. I hope you can come back in time for Janet’s wedding. Waiting to hear from you soon.”
A concluding statement (for formal letters)
In a formal personal letter, you are required to write a brief statement, to sum up, the letter. The purpose of this is to provide closure to the reader and hint at the urgency of response. A concluding statement for a business letter can be:
“Please get in touch with my assistant to set a time for the meeting. I look forward to working with your company. Thank you.”
Your full name
After you have written the concluding statement/ paragraph, you can end the letter with your full name. In case of a business letter, you may also add a signature after writing your name. However, the signature is not important in an informal personal letter.
Add Proper Punctuations
In any form of letter writing, you are required to use proper punctuation, along with accurate grammar. It is also recommended to use simple language to make sure that the recipient of the letter understands its content.
Proofread and Edit
Once the letter is completed, you must edit it attentively. You can read the letter out loud to identify and eliminate errors easily.
Any form of personal letter writing requires discipline. Therefore, you must structure the letter according to its context, use proper grammar and edit it before sending it off!