A letter is a written message from one party to another containing information.

Letter writing occurs in many forms and formats, including notes, letters, and postcards. Sometimes referred to as hard copy or snail mail, letter writing is often distinguished from forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC), such as email and texting.

Rules for Writing Formal Letters in English

In English there are a number of conventions that should be used when writing a formal or business letter. Furthermore, you try to write as simply and as clearly as possible, and not to make the letter longer than necessary. Remember not to use informal language like contractions.

1. Addresses:

  • Your Address
    The return address should be written in the top right-hand corner of the letter.
  • The Address of the person you are writing to
    The inside address should be written on the left, starting below your address.

2. Date:

  • Different people put the date on different sides of the page. You can write this on the right or the left on the line after the address you are writing to. Write the month as a word.

3. Salutation or Greeting:

  • Dear Sir or Madam,
    If you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, use this. It is always advisable to try to find out a name.
  • Dear Mr Name,
    If you know the name, use the title (Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms, Dr, etc.) and the surname only. If you are writing to a woman and do not know if she uses Mrs or Miss, you can use Ms, which is for married and single women.

4. Ending a Letter:

  • Yours faithfully
    If you do not know the name of the person, end the letter this way.
  • Yours sincerely
    If you know the name of the person, end the letter this way.
  • Your signature
    Sign your name, then print it underneath the signature. If you think the person you are writing to might not know whether you are male of female, put you title in brackets after your name.