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Writing formal letters

Writing formal letters

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Tutor: Esinam

Summary

Writing formal letters

In a nutshell

Formal letters are a more proper form of communication between two or more parties. In this summary, you will learn how to write a formal letter.



Getting started

When writing a formal letter, it is important that you use the correct layout and write in a formal style. Formal letters can be informational, persuasive, motivational or promotional. You must tailor your writing according to your audience and purpose and using that, also find the appropriate tone for your writing.


PURPOSE

AUDIENCE

TONE

A letter of complaint 
A company's customer service team, for example, a hotel or restaurant. A letter of this kind will require precise details of events that happened including times and dates and possibly even names of any staff you can remember.
The tone would be formal, however expressive as you need to communicate what your issues were and how they affected you.
A letter requesting information
A hospital or doctor's surgery. This could be to request a sick note or a copy of some test results. 
The tone of a letter of request would need to be very precise and to the point. The details of the request would need to be clear.


​Structure

Formal letters should have the address of the writer at the top right hand corner of the page with the date just beneath it. This is then followed by the recipient's address on the left hand side of the page.


Example



Miss Charlotte Johnson

112 Rickmans Road

Devon

Maybe DT7 7XY


Sun Seekers Travel Ltd

49 Fernchapel St

London 

E1CV 8AT


The main body is where you write the content of your letter.

Feature

Example

Explanation

Greeting
Dear Sir / Madam,
Greet the recipient as 'Mr', Mrs' or 'Miss' followed by their surname as is the most appropriate way if you know the recipient. However, using 'Dear Sir/Madam' is best when you do not know the recipient.
Introductory paragraph
I am writing this letter to complain about the holiday that your Travel Agency arranged for my family and I, and to inform you of the poor service I received at the hotel during my stay there last week.
Start off the letter with an introductory paragraph that politely informs the reader of the reason why you are writing and what you hope to achieve through this letter.
First paragraph
Upon arrival, we attempted to check in. We were then told by the receptionist that the hotel booking system had malfunctioned and that they could not accommodate us for 2 nights of our stay as our room had been double booked.
Each paragraph should address one point.
Second paragraph
No effort was made by the hotel to assist us in finding alternative arrangements for accommodation. 
Once you have finished talking about that point, move on to the next paragraph.
Third paragraph
My parents, 3 year old sister and I ended up staying in a twin room, with 4 people sharing 2 beds as the hotel did not even have a cot to spare. This was a terrible experience, and I think you would agree we should be compensated for it.
Give any further information or details concerning your experience and opinion that you feel would make your point stronger.
Conclusion and end of the letter
For this reason ,we would like a refund on the 'once in a lifetime' holiday that we were promised. I look forward to hearing from you.
Conclude the letter with stating what you would like to happen next.
Sign off
Yours Sincerely, 


(Signature)
Charlotte Jones
End the letter with 'Yours Sincerely' if you are writing to someone you know or 'Yours Faithfully' if you do not know the recipient. A signature shows the letter is genuine and authentic.



Language

Formal language is used to write formal letters. Avoid colloquial language, slang, contractions and abbreviations, and use formal language to maintain a professional tone. 


CONTRACTION OR ABBREVIATION

FORMAL LANGUAGE

Wouldn't
Would not
There'll
There will
We'll sort it ASAP
We will sort it out as soon as possible.


When writing formal letters, use formal expressions and sophisticated language. Even if you are writing a complaint letter, your language must remain polite and courteous. Simply state the issue, along with any other relevant information.


​Examples
  • ​I am writing to draw your attention to...
  • I was surprised to discover...
  • I find the current state of affairs to be appalling/outrageous/unsatisfactory...
  • In my opinion...


Link the paragraphs with connectives to ensure your writing flows well for the reader and links your ideas together. Connectives provide a clear structure to your paragraphs and overall letter.


Examples
  • Furthermore
  • Consequently
  • As a result of this
  • Moreover



Conclusion

Formal letters a simply written messages of communication written in a formal way. They follow the same structure which should be adapted to suit different purposes and audiences.​​

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

When writing a formal letter, how do I make all the paragraphs flow together?

What is a formal letter?

How do I write a formal letter?

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