How to write a formal letter?

+40 votes
asked Jan 16, 2018 in Education by CEMDomingo7 (240 points)
edited Mar 15
I am a young employee in a large organization that does a lot of letter correspondence. I am finding myself having to write a lot of formal letters and I need to polish my writing skills. What do I do?

2 Answers

+27 votes
answered Jun 4 by ClarenceLope (360 points)
edited Jul 23
Formal or writing is a skill that needs to be learned with time. Indeed, writing in itself is a vocation that a few people would choose. As for your case, you seem to be dealing with an issue of orientation. How to write a formal letter? It is easier than you may think.

First of all, you need to keep practicing, because practice makes perfect. And you need to be open to constructive criticisms especially from your seniors when they point out problems here and there. Instead of becoming resentful or bitter with your current inadequacies, you should face them and try to make something out of them. The adversities will only help you in the long run. So when those moments of criticizing come, take them as learning opportunities to sharpen yourself.

Second, you are not the only person in your organization. This means you have peers who have been doing it for a long time. Take time to sit down and talk to them; draw something from their experience.

Third, most formal letters are structured and tend to follow a established pattern. Take your time and go through the archives of letters that have been written from your organization. This will give you a clear picture of how formal letters are written to different recipients in your organization.

And on top of all these steps, keep writing, because the best way to master writing is through writing.
+10 votes
answered May 13 by ElizaB711264 (380 points)
edited May 19

Formal letter writing can be a bit embarrassing especially for someone who is coming from an “sms” kind of background where every word must be chopped. But it never means that one is not smart enough. There are many free resources that can you can use to train and perfect yourself in the art of formal letter writing.

First, there are many great books that you can buy or even borrow and learn the basics of letter writing, for example The Elements of Style by E. B. White and On Writing by William Zinsser. If you happen to be a person who does not love books, then you can use the internet to get all the information free of charge, and most of that material is collated and extracted from some of the classic books.

These online and offline resources will orient and cement you in all the basics and principles of formal letter writing. I was once just like you now, and I kept working on improving my writing skills through endless practice and references to whatever resources that I could find. Over the years, matters such as audience, purpose of writing, types of formal letters, salutations, paragraphs, tone, structure and much more finally became clarified to me. So have faith and keep going.

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