How to Write a Letter
Courtesy Copies. If you’re sending this same letter to other people, let the recipient know with “CC:” or “Copies to:” followed by the names of the other recipients. List the names in alphabetical order by last name. This would go one skipped line beneath the signature block or one skipped line beneath your enclosure or separate mailing notation.
How to Write a Letter in Hassle-Free Steps (With Sample)
Knowing how to write a letter, whether business or personal, is a skill that everyone needs. Sometimes, these letters will be short, informal emails. Other times, they’ll be highly polished for corporate correspondence. Learn how to write a letter step-by-step, and review a printable sample letter. Then, explore best practices for writing both formal and informal letters.
- Sender’s address – To start, place your full address — including your full name, street address, city, state, and zip code — in the upper left-hand corner. If you’re not confident in writing addresses, learn how to write an address properly.
- Date line – Skip a line and specify the date. Use the date the letter is being written.
- Recipient’s address – Skip a line and place the recipient’s full address. For a formal letter, you’ll need to include the company name, the recipient’s name and title, and mailing address. For an informal, personal letter, there’s no reason to include the company name or job title.
- Greeting/salutation – Skip one more line to insert the greeting. This is called the salutation. In a formal letter, you use “Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name:” Formal letters require a colon after the greeting, while informal letters take a comma. For an informal letter, it’s fine to use the recipient’s first name followed by a comma.
- Body of letter – Skip a line and begin the letter. In the body of your letter, separate your thoughts into paragraphs. You never want to draft one big block of text. For each new set of thoughts or ideas, begin a new paragraph. Leave a blank line between paragraphs.
- Complimentary close – Skip one of your final lines to include a complimentary close. The closing can be as simple as, “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” “Regards,” or similar. There should always be a comma after the word or phrase you use to close a letter, whether it is formal or informal.
- Signature text – Skip three lines (where you’ll insert your handwritten signature), and type your full name. For a formal letter, you should also include your job title on the next line.
- Attachments – If you’re including any attachments with your letter, skip one more line and type “Enclosure.” If there’s more than one attachment, indicate how many there are in parentheses, as in “Enclosures (4).”
Choose the Right Font
For printed letters, fonts with serifs are your best bet. They just look sharp and they’re easy to read on paper. Fonts without serifs give your writing a bit of airiness and informality. For formal letters, you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman or Georgia.
With indented form, you indent the first line of a paragraph one inch. You also put your address and date so that it’s right justified. We’ll show you what that means here in a bit. Indented form was the way most people wrote business letters before the proliferation of PCs.
Type the Salutation
Skip a line and type your salutation. You can’t go wrong with “Dear [Name of recipient],”. If you know the recipient well, go ahead and use their first name. If you don’t know them well or the relationship is formal, use their title and last name, e.g., “Dear Mr. Ferguson,” “Dear Prof. Slater,” etc. Make sure you spell the recipient’s name right!
If you’re writing a letter that’s not directed to anyone in particular in the organization, go with “To Whom It May Concern,”. Ideally, before you write a letter, you’ll do your research so that it’s directed to someone specific. Use “To Whom It May Concern,” only after you’ve diligently looked into whom to address and ascertained that a specific name isn’t available.
With the salutation in formal letters, you can follow the name with either a comma or colon. Back in the day, it used to be strictly colon as it connotes more formality than a soft, breezy comma. Most business etiquette folks agree that commas are fine today. If you want to add some military seriousness to your letter, go with the colon.
Letter Writing (e-book)
The world gets smaller and contacts get faster but whether it’s by computer or with pen-and-ink, the need to be able to communicate effectively in writing remains as important as ever. So whether you want to get in touch with a pen-pal, an e-pal, your bank manager, the editor of a newspaper, to make a complaint or declare your undying love, this guide will show you how to make the most of your correspondence. Direct and very accessible, this invaluable book will show you the general rules of good letter writing and will also provide specific advice on letters for specific occasions.
The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communications
From overcoming illegible penmanship to mastering the challenge of keeping straight margins, avoiding smeared ink, and choosing stationery that is appropriate but suits your style, this is a powerful little guide to conveying thoughts in an enduring—and noteworthy—way. Just as you cherish receiving personal mail, you can take pleasure in crafting correspondence. Love, gratitude, condolences, congratulations—for every emotion and occasion, a snippet of heartfelt prose is included, sure to loosen the most stymied letter writer.
101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for All Occasions
Nothing says good manners like an elegantly crafted thank-you note, whether on paper or by e-mail. This refreshed and reissued etiquette classic–now updated with new information for the digital age–provides all the dos and don’ts, along with a perfectly phrased “thank-you” for every occasion, from weddings and baby showers to business interviews and charity events. This indispensable guide will make sure you’re never at a loss for words of appreciation.
The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, From Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories
How do you raise children who love to write? Jennifer Hallissy believes that if you give children a solid foundation of writing basics, they will develop a love of writing that lasts a lifetime. In this book, she shares the secrets for supporting young writers, from the smallest of scribblers to middle-schoolers mastering script. You play an important role in nurturing your child’s writing development. You are your child’s first writing teacher, and their most important writing role model. From teaching your child how to hold a pencil and form the letters of the alphabet, to creating writing spaces and meaningful writing rituals at home, this book gives you all of the information and inspiration you need to raise a confident writer.
Spencerian Handwriting: The Complete Collection of Theory and Practical Workbooks for Perfect Cursive and Hand Lettering (e-book)
Easy to understand yet challenging to perfect, the Spencerian system was the standard for all personal and business correspondence in the 1800s. While modern students are barely taught cursive, for more than a century schoolchildren were dutifully drilled in intricate penmanship using this original primer. Now you can follow the step-by-step instructions and practice on the included workbook pages to learn: the seven Spencerian principles; heights and widths of letters; proper pen positioning; spacing between letters and words; finger and arm movements; optional shading effects. With Spencerian Handwriting, you can add a personal touch to all your handwritten letters and notes reminiscent of simpler, more elegant times.
The Art of Cursive Penmanship: A Personal Handwriting Program for Adults
The Art of Cursive Penmanship presents the subject of handwriting as a valuable and spontaneous skill for the adult. Authored by internationally recognized Master Penman Michael R. Sull, this book focuses on practical self-study techniques designed to accommodate anyone’s personal or professional schedule. With determined and consistent use, the daily application of Sull’s methods will result in the following penmanship improvements: letterforms, legibility, letter spacing, signature writing.
The Lost Art of Handwriting: Rediscover the Beauty and Power of Penmanship
Revisit the lost art of writing with these fun prompts, worksheets, exercises–and more!–and experience the many benefits of writing by hand, including increased focus and memory, relaxation, and creative expression. Writing by hand may seem passe in the digital age, but it shouldn’t be dismissed as simply an activity for grade schoolers–it offers countless benefits that have been studied by researchers, brain neurologists, therapists, educators, and others who are invested in helping handwriting thrive in an age of advancing technology. Handwriting may be slower than typing–but this gives your brain more time to process information, and stimulates neurological connections that aid in memory, focus, and composition. The process of handwriting can also have a soothing, calming effect and can even serve as a great form of meditation. And of course, it’s a great way of expressing your individuality and personal style.
Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting
Steeped in the Palmer Method of handwriting she learned in Catholic school, Kitty Burns Florey is a self-confessed “penmanship nut” who loves the act of taking pen to paper. So when she discovered that some schools today forego handwriting drills in favor of teaching something called keyboarding, she was shocked.” “The idea that such a vital, simple, and frequently beautiful skill could be lost to future generations inspired her to investigate the history of writing by hand and its place in our increasingly electronic society. The result is Script & Scribble – a charming, fascinating exploration of the many facets of handwriting.” “Weaving together the history of writing implements and scripts, pen collecting societies, the golden age of American penmanship, the growth in popularity of “graphology”–Handwriting analysis – and the pockets of aficionados who still prefer scribbling on paper to tapping on keys, Florey poses the question: Is it true that writing by hand is no longer necessary in today’s busy world?