Sooner or later each person faces a necessity to write a letter. No matter what type of letter you are going to write, it has to be effective and correct. From one point of view, it makes a process of writing letters rather tedious. However, it is not exactly so and if you know core rules of writing letters and understand basic letter formats, writing a letter will not turn into a challenge. That is why in terms of this speech, we would like to discuss a variety of letter formats and their peculiarities.
When you decide to write a letter, first of all it is necessary to ask yourself about the type of the letter you are going to write. In general, all letters can be divided into business and personal letters. While personal letters are filled with emotions, feelings and deal with numerous personal matters, business letters are more restrained and better organized. Both business and personal letters may have a variety of formats, which should be used appropriately.
We would like to begin our discussion with business letters and its formats, because writing such letters sometimes appears to be rather problematic for the majority of people. On the other hand, being able to write a correct business letter shows your professionalism and establishes appropriate tone of the letter. That is why such skill is of great importance for all people.
In the majority of cases all business letters can be written in four main formats. They are block format, modified format, alternative and memo formats. Probably, one of the main business letter formats is block format. It is extensively used in the business world due to its simplicity and clean look. Such letter format can be easily formatted with the help of left margin. As a rule all paragraphs are double spaced and the margins are one inch, which is a standard option.
There are several key components of the block letter format, which cannot be omitted. They are the heading of the letter, address, salutation, body, complimentary close, signature, identification line, identification line and enclosure.
In the heading it is necessary to write your address and the date. The address here can be omitted, if you write a letter on a letterhead. The address line includes a full address of a recipient. The salutation line is a greeting, which should include the name of the person you are writing to. In case when it is impossible to find a name of a person, it is recommended to use general salutation. For instance, “to whom it may concern.” Sometimes attention line may be added after salutation. The mentioned above elements of the letter form its heading. Each element should be double spaced and none of them can be avoided.
The main part of the letter is its body. As a rule it consists of several paragraphs, which express your message. The body of the business letter should be well organized and well thought out. Usually, it can include an introductory part, purpose of the letter, statement of the problem, its specifications and a call to action. At the same time the body of the letter should be concise and include all necessary information, which will allow the recipient to understand the aim of the letter, your offer or problem and make the right decision. Complimentary close, signature, identification line and enclosure conclude your letter.
Although other letter formats are less widespread, they are still used for business letters and in some situations they may be irreplaceable. Alternative block letter format has additional element, which is a subject line. Its aim is to inform the recipient about the purpose of the letter, without reading its body.
When we look at the modified block format, the first thing we mention is a change in its heading, which is situated at the right side of the letter. In the modified block format, all the first lines of paragraphs are indented. It is considered that such format is more traditional. Apart from this, its adherents speak about the balance between components of the letter. Still, it is not so frequently used in the contemporary business world.
Memo is the fourth format of business letter. It is remarkable that there are more and more adherents of this letter format. Probably, there main reason is its simplicity. At first, this letter format was used only for internal business communication, but today more people use it for external business correspondence as well. The heading of the memo includes four main lines, which are to, from, date and subject. After the body of the memo it is necessary to add signature and enclosure lines.
Another group of letters, which is also rather widespread and is used by people each day, is personal letters. There is a great variety of them including friendly letters, thank you notes, letters of condolence and regret, invitations, notes and many others.
Despite their diversity and nonofficial character, they still have certain compulsory components, which cannot be avoided. They are the heading, salutation, body of the letter, complimentary closing, and signature. The heading usually consists of the date and address. However, the second element can be sometimes omitted. The heading should be situated at the right side of the letter. The salutation should be at the left side of the letter and it is usually followed by the coma.
Although the presence of components is strict and none of them should be omitted, personal letters give more freedom with its content and the use of language. Everything depends on the situation, on the purpose of the letter and its recipients. It is remarkable that even within this category of letters, it is possible to make a division on more and less formal letters. For instance, friendly letters can be absolutely informal, as it is a communication between friends. Thank you letters, notes or invitations can have more formal character depending on the recipient of the letter. The majority of personal letters are written in a modified block format.
In conclusion, it should be said that the choice of the letter formats depends on a variety of factors. Thus, for instance, some organizations may have restrictions concerning the use of certain formats. That is why it is always important to remember about your recipient. In addition, it should be remembered that letter format is not the most important thing, because it is also necessary to include all compulsory elements of the letter. Any type of business or personal letter, when it is well written, underlines your professionalism, accuracy and adds appropriate tone to your letter.
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