If your letter covers a lot, it’s best to include a closing paragraph at the end to summarize everything the recipient needs to know. As always, don’t forget to edit and proofread the body of the letter before sending.
How to Write a Letter in Hassle-Free Steps (With Sample)
Knowing how to write a letter, whether business or personal, is a skill that everyone needs. Sometimes, these letters will be short, informal emails. Other times, they’ll be highly polished for corporate correspondence. Learn how to write a letter step-by-step, and review a printable sample letter. Then, explore best practices for writing both formal and informal letters.
- Sender’s address – To start, place your full address — including your full name, street address, city, state, and zip code — in the upper left-hand corner. If you’re not confident in writing addresses, learn how to write an address properly.
- Date line – Skip a line and specify the date. Use the date the letter is being written.
- Recipient’s address – Skip a line and place the recipient’s full address. For a formal letter, you’ll need to include the company name, the recipient’s name and title, and mailing address. For an informal, personal letter, there’s no reason to include the company name or job title.
- Greeting/salutation – Skip one more line to insert the greeting. This is called the salutation. In a formal letter, you use “Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name:” Formal letters require a colon after the greeting, while informal letters take a comma. For an informal letter, it’s fine to use the recipient’s first name followed by a comma.
- Body of letter – Skip a line and begin the letter. In the body of your letter, separate your thoughts into paragraphs. You never want to draft one big block of text. For each new set of thoughts or ideas, begin a new paragraph. Leave a blank line between paragraphs.
- Complimentary close – Skip one of your final lines to include a complimentary close. The closing can be as simple as, “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” “Regards,” or similar. There should always be a comma after the word or phrase you use to close a letter, whether it is formal or informal.
- Signature text – Skip three lines (where you’ll insert your handwritten signature), and type your full name. For a formal letter, you should also include your job title on the next line.
- Attachments – If you’re including any attachments with your letter, skip one more line and type “Enclosure.” If there’s more than one attachment, indicate how many there are in parentheses, as in “Enclosures (4).”
Formal letter writing: block style vs. AMS style
Formal letters—like cover letters, business inquiries, and urgent notifications— are some of the most important letters you’ll ever have to write. Because they’re sometimes used as official documents, formal letters have a very precise structure and particular format. In fact, there are a few different “correct formats” to choose from.
The most common formats for formal letter writing are block style and American Mathematical Society, or AMS, style. In the example below, we use block style, specifically full block style, because it’s the most popular. Block style is characterized by all elements being aligned on the left margin of the page. This includes the first lines of paragraphs, which don’t use indentation.
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Before you write a friendly letter, add the date on the top left corner of the paper so your friend can save the letter and look back on it. Start the letter by writing “Dear [Their Name],” and then mention things you both are mutually interested in like current events or politics just like you would if you were talking out loud. If you think of something you want to add after you’ve signed the letter, you can always add a postscript, or PS, with one final insight or joke! For ideas on more topics to talk about in your letter, keep reading below!