Formal letters


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Formal letters

  1. 1. Formal Letters RI- EL 2011 What a lot we lost when we stopped writingletters. You cant reread a phone call -Liz Carpenter
  2. 2. Writing letters• With the advent of email, it is becoming less and less common to write letters, but the few letters that you will write will probably be very important ones, such as covering letters for job applications, covering letters for questionnaires or surveys which are part of your research, or letters of complaint to your bank manager.• It is very important, therefore, that your letters have the desired effect on the reader.• In order to achieve this, they should be: – in the correct format – short and to the point – relevant – free of any grammatical or spelling mistakes – polite, even if you’re complaining – well presented Adapted from 2 writing guide
  3. 3. When do we need to write a formal letter?• To inquire about something. You many have some questions or doubts which need clarification and so you decide to write a polite and clearly worded letter to the person or organisation concerned to seek assistance or clarification.• To lodge a complaint. Something or someone could have caused you some degree of annoyance and you decide to write to the relevant person or department to lodge a formal complaint.• To apply for a post. There may be an advertisement regarding a vacancy for a post and you wish to apply for the post.• To comment on something. You may want to comment or offer suggestions regarding something which you have read in the press or watched on television. You will then need to write to the editor of the newspaper or to the producer of the television programme.• An official request for appointment or help. Adapted from 3 writing guide
  4. 4. Important points to note when writing formal letters:• All necessary information must be included in your letter so that the person to whom the letter is addressed is then able to respond appropriately.• Format and organisation: there are certain conventions to which you must adhere to in the writing of formal letters. These have to do with the layout of the letter, the structure of the letter’s content as well as the degree of formality of the language used. It is advisable to use a separate paragraph for every major topic in your letter.• Tone and register: the language used should have a degree of formality and politeness. This also includes avoiding the use of contractions (I’m, hadn’t) and exclamation marks, as well as writing in incomplete sentences. Adapted from 4 writing guide and from RP 2010 notes
  5. 5. Current trends• Block or indent paragraphing? – If you are typing it out, use block paragraphing, that is, all shunted to the left. If you are handwriting it, then it is conventional to indent the letter. (That is, leave a two-finger space as you do in your essay writing.)• Name below signature or above address or both? – Write your name below the signature, for a business letter, as it is conventional to do so. Including your name above the address is optional; it is just a convenience for the person replying your letter.• Date – Any consistent, clear numbering is accepted: 1/2/10, 1-3-10, 1st Mar 2010 or 1 Mar ’10. However, it is preferable to use the last two.• Salutation – The name of the person, if known, should be used. This is for personal approach, much practised in formal letters nowadays. For example: Dear Mr John, Dear Mrs John Tan (American usage of colon [:] after the salutation is not accepted. (e.g. Dear Mr Brown: )• Heading – This is placed in the centre (below the salutation) or aligned to the left and made bold if the letter is electronically produced.• Signing off – These are acceptable phrases normally used: Yours faithfully, Yours sincerely, (note that the second word starts in lower case.) Adapted from 5 writing guide
  6. 6. Formal Letter FormatWriters addressBlk 123, Jalan XYZ#12-123Singapore 123456Date31 March 2010Readers name, position, addressMr Jason LimPrincipalABC CollegeJalan ABCSingapore 098765Suitable greetingDear Mr Lim, /Sir Appropriate Title (the title should sum up the formal letter!) e.g. Feedback on Entrepreneurship Forum held at ABC collegeOpening paragraph: Introduce self State general purpose of letterBody of letter: ( 2-3 paragraphs depending on the task given) Give some background of the issue Discuss the issueClosing paragraph: Repeat purpose of letter Remind gently of deadline (where applicable) Conclude on a polite noteSignoff, name, positionYours sincerely/ faithfully,Henry Wong(student, 1AO3B) 6