Letter writing format, types & tips – Exchanging letters through posts has taken a back seat with the advent of modern technology, but the style of communicating through letters still persists in the form of emails.
Moreover, letter writing is an important part of various competitive exams as well. Candidates in examinations such as SSC exam, Bank exam, RRB exam, or other Government exams are asked to write a letter in the descriptive papers to assess their writing skills.
Candidates appearing for any of the above-mentioned examinations can check the links given below for detailed information:
To help candidates score full marks in the descriptive papers of a particular examination, this article will explore the types of letter writing, the format of letter writing and a few tips to write quality letters in the examination.
Letter Writing In Competitive Exams
Letter writing is an intricate task as it demands meticulous attention. Nevertheless, candidates can fetch good marks if they are careful about what is being written.
From the examiner’s point of view, the goal of letter writing is the analysis of the writing skills of candidates, but from the candidate’s perspective, the aim of letter writing should be –
- The letter should fill the communication gap between two parties
- It should send out a message and express a feeling
- It should create awareness and provoke thought in the receiver’s mind
Each letter that is written can have different objectives, depending on its type. So, first let us understand the types of letter writing.
Types Of Letter Writing
Letter writing can be classified into two types:
- Informal Letters
- Formal Letters
Candidates in the examination can be asked to write a 150- 200 word letter on either type mentioned above. Let us understand both the types of letters in detail.
Informal letters are also known as personal letters. Such types of letters are usually written to relatives, family, friends, or acquaintances. These letters may or may not have a concrete reason for writing. The aim of writing informal letters is to create a personal memoir. It need not adhere to any formalities or follow any set pattern.
The letters that follow a certain formality and set pattern are formal letters. Such letters are precise, directly addressing the concerned issue and are kept strictly professional in nature. Formal letters are short and to the point. A variety of letters that fall within the category of formal letters are –
- Business letters
- Official letters
- Social letters
- Circular letters
- Employment letters
Candidates preparing for any competitive examination can check the Previous Years Question Papers of various exams to understand the types of questions asked in the exam.
Letter Writing Format
In general, everyone needs to be aware of the format of letter writing, more so candidates appearing for examinations. A letter is composed of different elements that change depending upon its nature. The format for both the types of letters is given below.
Letter writing format of Formal Letter
A formal letter must adhere to the prescribed format. The letter writing format of a formal letter is as mentioned below:
- Sender’s address: One of the most essential components, also known as the return address. It is the mailing address of the sender. The address and contact details of the person sending the letter are written here.
- Date: Immediately after the sender’s address comes the date on which the letter is written. Candidates, while writing the letter in the exam, can follow any of the formats to write the dates: DD/MM/YY OR MM/DD/YY.
- Receiver’s address: The corresponding address, i.e. the address of the recipient of the mail is written here. Candidates must start with the receivers’ designation followed by the name of the organization and then the full address, Pincode and country (if the information is known).
- The subject: This highlights the aim of writing the letter. The subject of the formal letter should be very brief (6 to 8 words) and must be preceded by the word ‘Subject’. The receiver, through the subject, understands the purpose of the letter at a glance.
- Salutation: This is a customary greeting to the recipient of the letter. If the name of the recipient is known, the salutation starts with ‘Dear’ followed by Mr/Mrs/Miss, etc. If the person is unknown or even the gender is not known the recipient can be addressed as Dear Sir/Dear Madam.
- Body: The most important element of any letter. It furnishes the reason behind writing the letter. For formal letters, candidates should use short, clear, logical paragraphs to state the subject matter. The body of the letter is generally divided into 3 paragraphs:
- Introduction that states the main point.
- Middle part: Supporting points and details to justify the need and importance of letter writing.
- Conclusion: Request for some action or what is expected.
- Complimentary Closure: This is to end the letter with respect in a polite manner such as ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours sincerely’, etc.
- Signature Line: This is the last part where the sender of the letter signs off with his first or last name. The signature line may also include a second line for the title or designation of the sender.
Candidates writing formal letters in the exam must remember the following pointers.
- Use of colloquial words, short forms, slang language and abbreviations are restricted.
- The letter must be to the point, precise and clearly indicating the message.
- The subject line is very important in Formal Letters.
Letter writing format of Informal Letters
Candidates writing informal letters need to follow the below-mentioned format.
- Address: The sender’s address is important in informal letters. Since informal letters are personal letters and sent to acquaintances or people who are known, the receivers’ address is only mentioned on the envelope carrying the letter.
- Date: Same as in a formal letter format.
- Salutation in informal letters can be Dear/Dearest/ Hi/Hello followed by the first name/nickname of the recipient.
- Body: The body in the informal letters can be long and detailed containing diverse feelings, experiences, advice, news, etc.
- Sender’s name and signature are the same as in the formal letters.
Important pointers of Informal letter
- The subject line is not required in an Informal Letter.
- No prescribed format has to be strictly followed.
- The usage of language must be friendly and casual.
- The letter can have extra information, as per the sender’s choice.
Important Tips For Good Letter Writing
Candidates appearing for competitive exams are encouraged to follow the below-mentioned tips to write a good letter in the examination and fetch good marks.
- Candidates must be able to identify the type of letter they will write. For example: writing a letter to the Principal asking for leave is a formal letter, but writing a letter to the Principal to catch up after a long time would be an informal letter.
- Opening and closing of letters must be in the correct manner. Formal letters must open and close in a professional manner while informal letters can be directly addressed to the person with greetings. Even closing the letters is significant. Formal letters always end respectfully and impersonally, whereas informal letters may end with a more personal touch.
- In formal letters, making clear the purpose of the letter immediately is important. Candidates writing formal letters must make sure to get to the point as soon as possible.
- A letter is always supposed to be considerate and polite. It is essential to use polite words and civil language in all types of letters, be it formal or informal. Even if the letter is about any complaint, the point must be made in a careful and courteous manner.
- The length of the letter also holds relevance. In formal letters, the matter should be expressed to the point, precise and short, while the length of the personal or informal letter depends on the message and the relation to the recipient.
Candidates aspiring to appear for any of the competitive exams can check the following links:
Frequently Asked Question – Letter Writing Format For Competitive Exams
Q.1. What are the various types of letters?
Q.2. What are formal letters?
Q.3. What are the types of the formal letter?
Q.4. What are the Informal letters?
Q 5. How a formal Letter is written?
Ans. A formal letter must adhere to the prescribed format. It must include the following:
- Sender’s address
- Receiver’s address
- Body of the letter
- Complimentary closure
- Signature line: sender’s name, signature and designation