Formal Letter Writing in English - Definition, Format and Writing Samples

The article elaborates on the format of writing a formal letter, the definition and structure of a formal letter, along with sample formal letters for your reference. Formal Letters are professional and need to be drafted carefully. The following topics will help you understand how to write a formal letter in the most effective manner.

Definition of a Formal Letter

Formal Letters, also called Business Letters or Professional Letters, are letters that are written in a strict and specific format. Formal letters are naturally much more formal in style than informal/friendly letters. Formal letters can be written for a number of reasons such as,

  • to express your concerns in the professional setup
  • to provide official information across your workspace
  • to order goods, to apply for employment
  • to the Editor of a newspaper addressing the problems faced by various groups of people in different areas, etc.

Structure of a Formal Letter

In order to be able to write a formal letter, you have to first understand the reason behind the letter. As far as formal letters are concerned, the structure of the letter changes depending on the type of letter. There are certain rules to be followed to be able to draft a formal letter. Every sentence should be well thought out and laid down in such a way that the message you want to convey should be precise and clear to the reader.

Types of Formal Letters

There are different types of formal letters, as discussed, and they can generally be labelled under the following terms:

  • Business Letters
  • Letters of Application
  • Letters to Newspapers

Business Letters

Business letters should be terse, clear and to the point. There is no room for any kind of stories in a business letter. Before you start to write a business letter, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Use simple, everyday language to convey the message clearly instead of using flamboyant and overemphatic vocabulary.
  • Never use jargon that is commonly used in business when you write a business letter.
  • Avoid using abbreviations as much as possible.
  • The modes of address vary according to the type of letter and the receiver.
  • Clear and exact descriptions of the articles necessary with the expected quality and quantity should be listed with utmost care when you write a letter to order goods.
  • When replying to a business letter, always quote the date of the letter you are responding to and the number of references (if any).

Formal/Business letters include letters from an employer to the employees and vice versa, letters to order and replace goods, letters of serious concern to an officer of higher rank, letters of complaint, etc.

Letters of Application

Letters of Application usually consist of letters applying for employment. Before and after you write a letter of application, make sure you check for the following:

  • Always start with a short introduction stating whether the applicant is writing in response to a reference from an advertisement found online or in the newspaper.
  • State the age, education and experience of the applicant.
  • Provide the employer with a genuine expression of the applicant’s earnestness in taking up the job in the respective company.
  • Also, furnish references so that the employer can gather an idea of the kind of employee you would be.

Letters of Application should follow the format of formal/business letters.

Letters to Newspapers

Always address these letters to ‘The Editor’ and end with ‘Yours faithfully’. Letters to the Editor are letters that express concerns that should be addressed to the higher authorities. These letters should be professional and authentic. No newspaper would publish anonymous letters, so make sure you are writing the letter for a cause and provide your name and address correctly.

Writing a Formal Letter – Parts of a Formal Letter

When writing a formal letter, always be respectful and conscious of your language, no matter what the subject of the letter might be. To write a formal letter, there are some points to be remembered.

  1. Always start with the sender’s address
  2. This is followed by the date.
  3. The receiver’s address comes next. The receiver can be the name of the firm or the one who represents the firm.
  4. The subject of the letter is very important. It is a statement of the purpose of the letter. It should be written in a single line.
  5. The salutation can be Dear Sir/Ma’am. If it is a person you know well, you can address them by their name, ‘Dear Shrinath’.
  6. The body of the letter can be written in 3 paragraphs.
    • The first paragraph should be aimed at introducing yourself and stating the purpose of your letter.
    • The second paragraph should furnish all the information about the matter.
    • The third paragraph can be a concluding paragraph where you lay out your expectations regarding the matter.
  7. To close the letter, you can use a complimentary closing like ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours sincerely’ etc.
  8. Unlike informal letters, the signature should include your name (in block letters) and designation below your signature.

Formal Letter Writing Samples

Formal Letter Sample 1 – Letter to the publisher ordering books for your store

Javed

Read More Book Store

24, Crosby Lane

Bangalore 600045

20th August 2019

The Manager

Zack Publishing House

Mumbai 400012

Subject: Requirement of new books for the store – reg.

Dear Sir,

I have received the books that you had sent last week. The books are in perfect condition, and they were delivered on time. Owing to the great service rendered, I would like to order more books that would be a great addition to the wide range of books available at my store. Given below is a list of books that I would like to purchase:

Title of the Book Author No. of Copies
Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte 3
Treasure Island R L Stevenson 2
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking 4
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! Richard Feynman 2

I shall be grateful if you could send me copies of these books as mentioned by VPP as

early as possible to the address given.

Thank you in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Signature

JAVED

Manager – Read More Book Store

Formal Letter Sample 2 – Letter to the Editor about a road that needs repair

Ganesh

25, SS Street

Chernan Nagar

Coimbatore 641023

8th September 2019

The Editor

The Hindu

Coimbatore

Subject: Repair of the road in Cheran Nagar

Sir,

I would like to bring to your notice that the people in and around Cheran Nagar have been facing difficulties in travelling back and forth because of the bad condition of the roads there. We have appealed to the Municipality, but there has not been any development on the issue so far.

As private appeals to their office have had no effect, perhaps a little publicity will do no harm. For the last month, the roads in Cheran Nagar have been almost impassable. The surface is badly broken up by the heavy rains, and on a dark night it is positively dangerous for motors or carriages to pass that way. Moreover, there are heaps of road metal on both sides of the road, which leave very little room in the middle. The residents of the area have been inconvenienced in this way for weeks.

The situation is becoming worse. There have been multiple accidents happening due to this condition. I request you to highlight the seriousness of the matter in your newspaper so that the road may be put in thorough repair without further delay.

Thanking You

Yours sincerely,

Signature

GANESH

Resident

More Formal Letter Samples,


FAQ on Formal Letter Writing Format in English

What is a formal letter?

A formal letter is written for official purposes such as to express your concerns in the professional setup, to provide official information across your workspace, to order goods, to apply for employment, to the Editor of a newspaper addressing the problems faced by various groups of people in different areas, etc.

What is the format of a formal letter?

A formal letter should include the sender’s address, date, receiver’s address, subject, salutation, body of the letter, complimentary closing and finally, the signature with name (in block letters) and designation.

How can I write a formal letter?

Before you start writing a formal letter, make sure you understand the pattern of the formal letter. Try to include all the necessary information about the matter that is being discussed. Keep your language simple and clear. Make the receiver understand your requirements and also your expectations. Provide authentic information no matter what.

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