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How to write a great letter

April 5, 2017

Whether your letter is formal, cover or personal they best way to write a great letter is to be clear, concise where necessary and end on an action required following the letter.

In this modern age of emails, text and direct messaging, even Snapchat, writing a letter is becoming a lost art and one that many people simply don’t know how to do. You may have once known, but as letters in their traditional sense are becoming rarer you would think that the lack of practice is meaning the art of letter writing is being lost. Well it’s not, actually. As digital technologies take over, well almost everything, we can see that trends back towards more traditional values have started to really take flight. Music, once it was vinyl, then tape, then CD, then MP3 players, and now streaming, such as Spotify, but what’s growing exponentially is vinyl again. The same with jigsaws and colouring away from computer games.

Writing a letter on personalised writing paper may seem like an old fashioned way of communicating and one which takes so much longer than a text or email, but the same way that vinyl is making it’s come back, so is letter writing. Taking your time to consider what you’re writing, rather than quickly typing a message and sending it without even checking it correctly. A carefully crafted letter as gravitas, makes the reader stop, read and take note, rather than simply deleted or filing it away. The reader realizes the effort taken to write this letter, and the reader then pays attention to what is written. This is the same whether your sending a quick note on personalised correspondence cards or a formal multi page hand written letter.

Guide to letter writing

If you’ve not written a letter for a while, as long as you follow some simple steps you’ll be writing wonderful letters in no time at all.

Planning your letter

Plan what you’re going to write before you write it. Work out what you’re going to write about, maybe makes notes to you can structure them in a way that clearly communicates what you’re going to say. Simple notes like bullet points are fine. You can even write a draft of the letter before hand to ensure the structure is right. It’s a great way to avoid mistakes and then you can write your letter confidently.

The start of your letter

Depending on the type of letter you’re writing you may need a large introduction or a very small one. If you’re writing a formal letter then the reader may not even know who you are, in which case put all the key points you will be discussing into the start. Summarizing the content and purpose of the letter. If it’s a personal letter and you know the reader well you maybe able to dive straight into the letter content straight away.

Body of your letter

This is where the main content of the letter is an where the most unique content should be. After the opening and before the summary. This is where the purpose of the letter is, whether formal or personal. Being succinct and clear here is very important. You don’t want to ‘waffle’ and make the same point over and over in different ways as this will just confuse the reader.

Closing section of your letter

Again this should be clear and concise. You need to state what type of response you need and when, especially if it’s a formal letter. Also how that response should be sent. Obviously being polite at the same time!

The layout of your letter

Letters especially formal letters have a standard format. Your address should be at the top on the right. The readers address should be left aligned an on the left. The date should be under your address. You should always start the letter with a greeting and if you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to it should be ‘Dear Sirs,’ always with a comma after. Then if it is a formal letter you can add the subject of the letter underneath - RE.... - this is often writen in caps or bold so it is easily seen by the reader. The letter content should be left aligned, set out in paragraphs. At the end you should include a farewell (also known as a valediction or complimentary close). Select the correct farewell depending on the level of formality. This farewell should be left aligned and you should sign your name underneath, then print your name under your signature.

Get writing your own letters to people who mean the world to you and get the right personalised stationery to express yourself with us here at The Letter Press of Cirencester. If you need some inspiration take a look at the Letters Live website, it highlights some of the worlds most famous people and their letters read superbly by some of the best actors in the UK.

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