Digital communication like texting and emails have made corresponding with one another quick and easy. But no matter how eloquent your email might be, it will never compare to the power and class of a handwritten letter. Sadly, letter writing has become a bit of a lost art. The good news is that the practice of writing letters by hand is not entirely dead, and we’re here to give you some guidelines and tips for bringing back the lost art of letter writing.
When it comes to writing letters, it’s important to consider that there are really two broad categories of letters: formal and informal.
An informal letter, as the name implies, really doesn’t have a strict set of rules to follow when it comes to writing it. You can almost always get away with writing an informal letter by hand and being a little more casual with your tone. Postcards are a great example of informal letters. If you’re writing a letter to a family member or friend, you can usually get away with writing by and hand and going a little more casual in the tone.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on formal letters and a set of rules that should have you drafting professional and impressive pieces of physical correspondence.
The first thing to remember is that a formal letter is almost always typed. Formal letters usually address something business or legal-related, so you want it to look as professional as possible. Use the standard, 8.5 by 11-inch size paper when printing your letter.
There are countless font types to choose from depending on your word processing software. When it comes to formal letters, you want to keep it simple, so go with a standard font like Times New Roman.
Old-school letter writers would indent each paragraph in their letter. Today, it’s far more common to write in “block style,” meaning that each paragraph is flush with the far-left margin. However, it’s still acceptable to indent your paragraphs in a form letter and it can even give it a bit of style and make it stand out.
Start each form letter you write by typing your name and address at the top of the letter. Then, add a blank space and type today’s date. Follow that with another blank space and type out the recipient’s name and address.
There are varying schools of thought regarding what your salutation should be. To keep it simple, use “Dear _____” if you know exactly who your letter is going to. If you’re not sure, and you’re sending a letter to an organization, go with “To Whom It May Concern.”
When it comes to the body of your letter, keep your paragraphs single-spaced and add a blank space between each paragraph so it’s easy to read.
Close your letter by adding two additional blank spaces and adding a valediction like “Sincerely” or “Yours Truly.”