How To Write A Letter (With Examples)

By Kristin Kizer
Dec. 6, 2022

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Summary: To write a letter, you should choose the appropriate salutation for the type of letter, include what you are writing about in the introduction, and go into detail during the body of the letter. The tone of the letter will depend on if you are writing a formal or business letter, or if the letter is an informal or personal letter.

You might hear people say that the art of letter writing is dead. Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of truth to that statement since the invention of the internet and the prevalence of email and other forms of more immediate communication.

Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, people did a large part of their communicating by mail. Before the telephone, all long-distance communication was done through letters.

Today, people can go a very long time without writing a letter, but eventually, they’re going to have to write one. Unfortunately, because they’re no longer a part of everyday life, many people don’t know where to begin.

We’re here to help you write a letter, whether it’s a personal or a professional one. The following tips and formats will help you get started and master the art of letter writing.

Key Takeaways:

  • The two main types of a letter will be a formal letter or informal letter.

  • Your salutation will depend on the type of letter you are writing and who you are writing to.

  • It’s important to know who you are writing to to determine the tone and language that you use.

How To Write A Letter (With Examples)

How to Write a Letter

A formal letter is a little more detailed and difficult than an informal one. Formal letters are often used in a professional setting. The following elements will help you create a formal letter. An informal letter can be very similar but often skips a few of the details. Because they’re frequently personal letters, some of those details aren’t important in personal correspondence.

How to Write a Formal Letter:

Business letters are usually formal in nature, so let’s dive in and look at the required parts of a business letter.

  1. Date. The date of the letter is always included for future reference. It’s usually placed in the upper left-hand corner or the top center.

  2. Address. The person’s address, including their name and sometimes their title, is the next section of a formal letter. This information goes in the upper left-hand corner. (Note that some people switch these two sections and put the address first, both are acceptable)

  3. Salutation. This is the place where you address the person you’re writing the letter to. In many situations, you might not know who that person is. In this case, you can use a salutation like To Whom It May Concern. If you know the person’s name, it’s typically a good idea to use it and connect directly.

  4. Introduction. The first couple sentences or the first paragraph of the letter are the introduction, and they’re used to explain why you’re writing.

  5. Body. Following the introduction is the body of the letter. Sometimes the body is quite long and goes into great detail. Sometimes the body doesn’t need to be very detailed, and there’s not much more to say. This is all variable and can change.

  6. Closing. Typically, the next paragraph or sentence sums up what was said or what the next steps will be.

  7. Signature. This is where you politely say good-bye, something along the lines of Sincerely or Warm Regards, and then you sign your name.

  8. Additional information. This section isn’t always necessary, but if you are attaching other documents or sending copies of the letter to others, many people like to include this information at the very bottom of the letter.

How to Write a Informal Letter

If you’re going to write a personal letter, it’s usually going to be more informal. This means you might skip parts.

  1. Date (optional). Most often, you’ll find that informal letters don’t include the date and address of the letter recipient. If you choose to put the date, it will go at the top of the letter.

  2. Salutation. Just like a formal letter, you should start with a polite greeting. Informal letters have more freedom when it comes to the greeting. Some options include:

    • Hi [Name]

    • Hello [Name]

    • Hope you are having a great week

    • Good morning

  3. Body. This is where you will write your message. Informal letters are meant to keep in touch or to share news. This letter will have a conversational tone and can include slang, or a more informal language that you would use with the recipient.

    Even though the letter is informal and is more conversational, try to keep on topic. Straying off topic and rambling on about something that is not relevant can often bother a reader.

  4. Closing. Informal letters also use a complimentary close, the same as you would for a formal letter. The closing doesn’t need to be as formal. Examples of informal closing include:

    • Warm regards

    • See you soon

    • Best wishes

    • Thank you

Example Letters

  1. Formal letter example:

    August 3, 2021

    Jim Smith, Director
    Company X
    111 South Street
    Anytown, MA 12345

    Dear Mr. Smith:

    I am writing to you to inform you that I will be in the area the week before Christmas and would like to arrange a meeting to discuss my orders for next year with Company X. We have typically had this meeting in November, but unfortunately, that won’t be possible this year.

    I hope that this arrangement will work for you. If not, please let me know, and we can try to find a different timeframe that is agreeable to both. If it will work, let’s get something scheduled as soon as possible. I’m attaching my schedule for your convenience.

    Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to hearing from you and doing business with you in the following year.


    Maggie Brown
    Company A
    222 North Street
    Othertown, TX 67890


  2. Informal letter example:

    July 27, 2021

    Dear Grandpa,

    Thank you so much for the gift of money for my birthday. As you know, I am saving my money for college, and this will definitely help boost my fund.

    I was so happy to see you at my party. I know that you have been very busy lately, and it’s such a long drive. However, it really made my day to see you, and I’m glad we got to spend some time catching up. I hope that I’ll have a free weekend at the end of summer and can come and visit you.

    Thanks again for the birthday gift.



Types of Professional Letters

If you’re not used to writing professional letters, you might not realize how important they are and how often you’ll be writing them. In business, many letters are used, and, in most situations, they’re very formal. Therefore, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these types of letters.

Then, if you ever have to write them, you can do so with confidence. The following are some common business letters that will require an effective professional letter.

Professional Letters: Mail vs. Email

Today, email is the most common form of business communication, and even as this article is being written, interoffice emails are fading as different instant messaging apps become more prevalent. Business letters delivered by snail mail or the traditional postal service are all but gone.

So, what is the difference between writing a letter for email, which is what you’ll do most often, and for regular mail? The truth is there isn’t a lot of difference in the format of the letter, but there are a couple of things to pay attention to.

  • Quality paper. Correspondence that’s sent in the mail, especially business correspondence, should be on quality paper. Aim for A4 size, plain, white, and good quality paper.

  • Letterhead. If you’re writing on behalf of a business, your snail mail should be written on company letterhead. If you’re an individual, this isn’t necessary. When it comes to emails, some companies include headers, and most have a footer identifying the company.

    It’s best if these are incorporated into the email, but some systems turn them into attachments which can cause issues. In this case, it might be best to skip the letterhead and footer entirely.

  • Signature. In snail mail messages, you need to sign your name by hand, then below that is the typed version so they can actually read it. This is going away quickly in email correspondence, and you don’t need to leave the four spaces for a signature as you do in an actual letter.

    Because kids are no longer being taught penmanship, hand-written signatures may permanently go away in letters in the not-so-distant future.

  • Return information. If there is a request for returned information in a snail mail letter, you may want to include a return envelope. Obviously, this is not necessary for an email letter.

When to Mail a Personal Letter

Much like business correspondence, most personal mails can be handled through email. There are a couple of exceptions, and they’re based on etiquette. This might be outdated to some, and to others, it’s a necessity. We’re sort of in the middle ground here, and if you want to get it right, it’s best to lean toward traditional etiquette.

  • Thank you letters. These should be sent by mail. This is one area where etiquette is not changing. If someone goes through the effort to do something nice for you, show up at your event, or give you a gift, then a handwritten thank you letter is still the best course of action.

  • Invitations. You probably see more online invitations, and in less formal situations, this is fine. For example, if you have a bar-b-que with friends, an email or even a Facebook message is fine.

    But if you’re having a wedding, a graduation party, or another more formal event and your guests are expected to bring gifts, then a mailed invitation is in better form than an emailed notice.

  • Birth announcements. Birth announcements are not as common as they once were, but they’re often a prompt for a gift so sending them through the mail is nice. They’re also considered keepsakes, and many people like to hold onto tokens like this, especially if they include a picture.

  • Holiday letters. The holiday letter or card is still very prevalent, and people appreciate them more if they’re sent by mail. Consider them a gift of sorts.

Certified Letters

Certified letters are one time when a business or professional letter needs to go through the post office. Personal letters can also be certified, but typically these matters are of a business nature.

The only real way to certify that a letter has been sent and received is through the post office. Certified letters are often sent if there is a legal reason for documenting that the information was sent and received. It does cost extra to have the United States Post Office do this, but if it’s necessary, then it’s worth the expense to have your records reflect that the mail was received.

You will write a certified letter exactly like you would any professional correspondence. Because they are often related to a legal matter, you’ll want to make extra certain the content is accurate, but other than that, they’re basically the same. The real difference will happen with how it’s sent, and your local post office will help you complete the appropriate paperwork.

Tips for Writing a Letter

  • Check spelling. Make sure you proof read your letter before sending it. You can also have someone else read it over to try and catch anything that you missed.

  • Choose the right format. Decide if your letter is going to be an email or hard copy. Also decide if you will type the email or hand write it. The font should be something easy to easy and stick with 10 to 12 point fonts.

  • Know your reader. Depending on the type of letter that you are sending, make sure you know who your reader is. this will help you use the appropriate tone and language. If you are writing an informal letter, use slang and language that the reader is comfortable with.

  • Keep it short. You should respect your readers time and keep your letter short and to the point. Try to avoid getting off topic. Your letter should only be a few paragraphs long.

How to Write a Letter FAQ

  1. How do you start a letter?

    How you start your letter will depend if you are writing a formal letter or an informal letter. A formal letter should use a business greeting sch as “Dear” and use the accurate punctuation.

    An informal greeting has more flexibility. You can use a greeting such as “Hi”, “Good morning”, and “Hey there.”

  2. Is it okay to use an alterative to “Sincerely”?

    Yes, using an alternative to “sincerely” is okay, but make sure the alternative is appropriate for the situation. How you conclude your letter will depend on how formal it is. Some formal alternatives to “sincerely” include:

    • Warm regards

    • Goodbye

    • Respectfully

    • All my best

  3. What is the best letter format?

    The best format for your letter would be single space with a space between each paragraph. Align your text to the left and have one-inch margins on all sides. Stick to plain fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial and keep the font size to 10 to 12 points.

  4. What does PS mean?

    PS stands for postscript. A post scrip is an additional thought added to letters after it has been completed. PS was often used when handwriting a letter and had something else to add after the sign off.


  1. Plain Language – Writing Effective Letters

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Kristin Kizer

Kristin Kizer is an award-winning writer, television and documentary producer, and content specialist who has worked on a wide variety of written, broadcast, and electronic publications. A former writer/producer for The Discovery Channel, she is now a freelance writer and delighted to be sharing her talents and time with the wonderful Zippia audience.

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