How to Write Any Type of Letter (2023)

Everyone should know how to write a letter, whether a business inquiry, email, personal letter, or letter-format social media post. Letter writing is a useful skill, not only for communicating clearly, but also for making a good impression—especially a first impression.

Below we explain how to write a proper letter, no matter the type you need. We’ll cover the correct format for a formal letter, such as a cover letter or job inquiry, as well as tips for writing a personal letter, with some helpful examples of each.

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What type of letter should you write?

There are no hard-and-fast rules. The most suitable letter format depends on your audience. For a friend or close relative, a casual message or informal letter is usually the best way to go. There are different types of letters that are appropriate for this format. Some include:

  • Handwritten letters
  • Emailed letters
  • Typed social media messages

However, for business contacts or people you don’t know well, a typed formal letter is almost always the most appropriate choice. When used for professional purposes, writing a formal letter is effective for the following:

  • Cover letters
  • Letters of intent
  • Value proposition letters
  • Business memorandum letters
  • Promotion letters
  • Reference letters
  • Resignation letters
  • Thank you letters

These are just some of the types of letters that you might need to write in a casual or professional environment. Before writing a letter, consider the type of letter you need: formal or informal. Each has a distinct format you’ll want to follow.

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.

AMS is fairly similar, following many of the same rules as block style. There are a few differences, however, which we briefly cover after the next section.

How to write a formal letter in block style

Step 1: Write the contact information and date

All formal letters start with the contact information and date. In the full block style, this goes in the upper left-hand corner.

First, as the sender, type your full name and address aligned to the left side, just as you would when addressing an envelope. This isn’t just a formality, but a useful inclusion so the recipient can easily find your contact information when they want to respond.

If you’re writing on official company letterhead that already includes this information, you do not need to rewrite the contact information.

After your address, skip a line and then add the date you’re writing the letter.

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Last, skip a line again and add the recipient’s name and full address. Feel free to include their job title below their name if it’s relevant. Leave a blank line after the contact information before writing the salutation.

Step 2: Write the salutation

Formal letters always have a greeting at the beginning of the written content as a cue that your message is about to begin. This is known as the salutation.

Most salutations begin with “Dear” and then the name of the recipient. All salutations use title capitalization and end in a comma.

If you don’t know the name of the receiver, you can also use a job title or even the department name, for example, “Dear HR Representative.” As a last resort, you can use the generic salutation “To Whom It May Concern” in any circumstance. Try to avoid “Dear Sir or Madam,” as it’s a little outdated.

Step 3: Write the body of the letter

This is where you write your message. The body of the letter follows the normal rules of grammar, so write it as you would any other formal document. The one exception for full block style is that you do not indent the first lines of paragraphs.

Unlike personal letters, formal letters are straightforward and direct, so don’t be afraid to get straight to the point. Some formal letters are only a sentence or two long, although others can go on for paragraphs if there’s a lot of information to convey. The important thing is that you stay focused and avoid tangential topics.

Although different company cultures have different communication standards, it’s a safe bet to avoid casual phrasing and jokes; some even advise against using contractions. It should go without saying, but don’t use slang, profanity, or other inappropriate language.

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.

Step 4: Write the complimentary close

Formal letters also use a standard complimentary close or sign-off, similar to the salutation, before ending with an authentic signature.

One of the most common closers is “Sincerely,” including some variations like, “With sincere gratitude,” or “Sincerely yours.” Other common sign-offs include “Best,” and “Yours.” Unlike salutations, closers use sentence capitalization. Always capitalize the first letter of your complimentary close, but only the first letter. And just like the salutation, always end with a comma.

If you’re sending a paper letter, skip a few lines after your complimentary close—this is where you sign your name. Additionally, always type your name below the signature, along with your job title if relevant. When sending an email or other digital letter, you don’t have to leave a blank line before you type your full name.

Step 5: Mention enclosed materials

This last step is necessary only if you’re sending additional materials with the letter, such as a résumé or CV, application, voucher, etc. If you’re sending only the letter, disregard this step.

After your printed name and optional job title (under your signature), skip a line and then write “Enclosure:” followed by a list of the materials you’ve included. For example, if you were including arésumé, you would write “Enclosure: Résumé.” This is simply a precaution so the recipient doesn’t miss anything or, if they need to, can verify that something was lost in shipping.

Formal letter example (block style)

Detective Inspector G. Lestrade

35 Victoria Embankment

London, England SW1A 2JL, UK

July 1, 1888

(Video) How to write a formal letter 📝 | All you need to know!

Mr. Sherlock Holmes

221B Baker St.

London, England NW1 6XE, UK

Dear Mr. Holmes,

On behalf of the London police force, we request your presence at New Scotland Yard at your earliest convenience. We have a case that requires your special expertise, and we’d prefer to discuss the details in person, considering the sensitivity of the information. Any time before the end of the month is acceptable.


G. Lestrade

Detective Inspector

Enclosure: Visitor pass

How to write a formal letter in AMS style

For the most part, AMS style uses the same rules and guidelines as block style, including enclosures, so you can follow the steps above regardless of the style you use. However, there are two major differences in AMS style that you need to be aware of:

  1. Don’t leave a blank line between the sender’s full address and the date. The date comes directly underneath the address.
  2. AMS style always uses a subject line in place of or before the salutation. The subject line should be written in all caps and summarize the content of the letter in no more than a single line, such as “YOUR PRESENCE IS REQUESTED AT SCOTLAND YARD.” As with salutations, leave a blank line before and after the subject line.

Formal letter example (AMS style)

Detective Inspector G. Lestrade

35 Victoria Embankment

London, England SW1A 2JL, UK

July 1, 1888


Dear Mr. Holmes,

[. . .]

(Video) E2 IELTS General Writing Task 1 | Informal Letters | TOP TIPS with Jay!

How to write an informal letter

True to their name, informal letters are a lot more casual than formal letters. That means there aren’t nearly as many rules and guidelines, and no one will mind if you don’t leave a blank space in the right spot.

Still, there is a correct format that people are familiar with, so follow the steps below as a bare minimum.

Step 1: Put the date at the top (optional)

Putting the date at the top of a letter is a custom stemming from a time when letter writing was the primary means of communication. Nowadays, including the date is no longer a necessity, but some people still do it because of tradition. In informal letters, it’s completely optional.

Step 2: Write the salutation

Just like formal letters, informal letters start with a polite greeting to the recipient. The standard format is the same: the word “Dear” followed by the person’s name, as in “Dear Mr. Lestrade,” using title capitalization.

However, informal letters provide more freedom when it comes to what you say in your greeting, and it’s not uncommon to see casual greetings like, “Hi [Name],” or “Hello [Name].”

As with salutations in formal letters, you normally end your greeting with a comma and then skip a line before beginning the body of the letter. Occasionally you see people end the salutation with an exclamation point, depending on their relationship with the recipient.

Step 3: Write the body of the letter

The body of the letter is where you write your message, and informal letters are often meant to share news or keep in touch. They tend to have a conversational tone, which means you’re free to include slang and whatever language you use when speaking in person.

While tangents are more permissible in informal letters, going off topic excessively can still bother the reader. Try to stay focused as best you can without sounding restrained—informal letters are supposed to be personal, after all.

Step 4: Write the complimentary close

Informal letters also use a complimentary close before the signature, following the same format as formal letters. That includes using sentence capitalization (capitalizing only the first letter), adding a comma at the end, and leaving enough space to sign your name if you’re sending a paper letter.

However, you don’t need to stick with the conventional sign-offs like “Sincerely.” If you’re writing a personal letter, you can use something more sentimental depending on the relationship with the recipient, such as “Love,” “Warm regards,” or “See you soon.”

Informal letter example

July 2, 1888

What’s up, Lestrade!?

It’s Sherlock! So stoked to receive your letter. Of course I’ll come to Scotland Yard ASAP, no worries.


Sherlock “Best Detective Ever” Holmes

What’s PS?

PS stands for postscript. It’s something you add at the last minute after the letter is complete, usually either minor news or something small you forgot when writing the body of the letter. Typically, you don’t use postscripts in formal letters; if you need to add something, you’ll have to revise the whole document to include the new information.

When writing a postscript, simply write the letters “PS” and then your message. It doesn’t matter if you use periods or not (“PS” and “P.S.” are both acceptable), but both letters should always be capitalized.

(Video) Writing Letters: formal & informal English

If you have more than one postscript, simply add another P to the beginning of each new PS. For example, your second postscript should be labeled “PPS.” and your third postscript should be “PPPS.”

PS. Rob got the position at Great Company! Thanks for all the support during his unemployment.

PPS. I have to cancel my birthday party, but we’re still getting together for drinks that night if you want to come.

The envelope

In the United States, the maximum weight for a first-class letter is 3.5 ounces. If your letter is more than three pages or you’ve written it on heavy paper, you’ll have to weigh it to make sure it meets the requirements. The size and shape of the envelope matter too. It has to be rectangular and smaller than roughly 6 by 11 inches, or you run the risk of the post office returning it.

Sending a letter

After you’ve determined that the envelope is the right kind, now you just have to mail it. (If it’s a personal letter, you can always deliver it yourself. In that case, just write the intended recipient’s name on the outside of the envelope. A bonus of hand delivery? You can use any size or shape envelope you want!)

In the top left-hand corner, write your name and address or attach a mailing label. In the center of the envelope, carefully write the name and address of the recipient. Besides the state abbreviation and zip code, international letters should include the country for both the destination and return addresses.

Postage rates vary. Check the US Postal Service website for current prices or use a Forever Stamp for US destinations. Postage goes on the top right-hand corner of the envelope.

Double-check that everything is correct on the outside of the envelope. If it is, fold your letter and insert it neatly. Don’t seal it until you’re sure that you’ve included every page you intend to send.

Letter-writing tips

Still not sure how to write a proper letter? Keep these letter-writing tips in mind to help you communicate with confidence.

Offer pleasantries

While personal letters naturally tend to use a friendly tone, formal letters, too, can benefit from pleasantries and polite etiquette. A simple phrase like “How are you?” or “I hope you’re well” at the beginning of a letter can help connect the sender and recipient, even if the subject matter is strictly business.

Likewise, you can also express sympathy, regret, support, or gratitude in both formal and informal letters. Aside from mere etiquette, these pleasantries establish a personal connection that separates your letters from those written by machines.

Write for your reader

As with all writing, modify your language to accommodate your specific reader. If you’re writing a formal letter to a business associate, be professional and courteous. If you’re writing a personal letter to an old friend, feel free to crack jokes and use slang.

Sometimes the lines blur—a “formal letter” to a work friend might be more casual than a “personal letter” to a distant relative. Keep in mind the specific reader as you write to strike the right tone. If you’ve never met the recipient before, stick to courteous formality.

Include all necessary information

If you have a lot of information to convey, make a small list beforehand to make sure you cover everything. Treat this like a mini-outline to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

This is especially important for invitations or letters about scheduling events. Make sure you clearly state the essential facts—particularly where and when—as well as other need-to-know information, like directions or special requirements.


Doesn’t it feel good sending a letter you’ve carefully prepared? Certainly, a well-written letter has the best chance of accomplishing its purpose. To make sure your letter really shines, it’s critical that it be mistake-free and set the right tone. Grammarly’s writing assistance catches things like spelling and grammatical mistakes, and Grammarly Premium includes formatting suggestions and guidance that can help you write clear, easy-to-follow letters that hold your recipient’s attention. By using Grammarly, you can write your letter with confidence, wherever you type!

This article was originally written by Jennifer Calonia in 2020. It’s been updated to include new information.

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How do you write all types of letters? ›

Letter Writing Format
  1. Sender's address.
  2. Date.
  3. Receiver's address.
  4. Subject.
  5. Salutation.
  6. Body of the letter.
  7. Complimentary closure.
  8. Signature line: sender's name, signature and designation.
Aug 26, 2020

What are the 7 types of letter? ›

Examples Of Different Types Of Letters
  • Business letter. ...
  • Resignation letter. ...
  • Official letter. ...
  • Invitation letters. ...
  • Descriptive letter. ...
  • Business letter example. ...
  • Invitation letter example. ...
  • Resignation letter example.
Jul 5, 2022

How do you write a letter and type a letter? ›

What are the types of letter writing? Letter writing can be divided into two main types – Formal Letters and Informal Letters. Formal letters are letters that are written for official purposes, whereas informal letters are written about anything you want to let your friends or family know.

How do I write a letter format? ›

Margins: Use one-inch margins and left justify your text. Spacing: Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph. Use one-inch margins and align your text to the left.2 Leave an extra space after the salutation, before the closing, and before and after your handwritten signature in a printed letter.

What is the 27th letter in the alphabet? ›

Total number of letters in the alphabet

Until 1835, the English Alphabet consisted of 27 letters: right after "Z" the 27th letter of the alphabet was ampersand (&). The English Alphabet (or Modern English Alphabet) today consists of 26 letters: 23 from Old English and 3 added later.

What are the 28 letters? ›

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.

What are the 3 main styles of letter writing? ›

he three major types of letters which are commonly used:
  • Formal Letter – The formal letter follows a certain formality and pattern. ...
  • Informal Letter- Informal letters are also called personal letters. ...
  • Semi-formal Letter – The semi-formal letter follows the same pattern as the formal letter.

What are the 4 styles of letters? ›

The four main types of writing styles are persuasive, narrative, expository, and descriptive. In this blog post, we'll briefly explore the defining features of these four writing styles. For more help using these writing styles, schedule an appointment at the GWC!

How can I write a perfect letter? ›

Letter-writing tips
  1. Know your reader. Use a tone appropriate for that individual and language or terminology they are likely to understand.
  2. Choose the right format. ...
  3. Be concise. ...
  4. Keep it short. ...
  5. Write to the reader. ...
  6. Proofread. ...
  7. Formal example: academic recommendation letter.
  8. Informal example: congratulatory letter.
Jan 5, 2021

How do I write a perfect letter? ›

Writing Effective Letters
  1. Identify your audience. ...
  2. Organize letters to meet your users' needs. ...
  3. Start with the main message. ...
  4. Letters may need a sympathetic opening. ...
  5. After the main message, use an overview sentence. ...
  6. Letter headings. ...
  7. Use pronouns. ...
  8. Choose the right tone for your letters.

What are the basics of letter writing? ›

Tips for writing good letters
  • Make sure that they are well written. ...
  • Make sure all your contact details are clearly written down at the top of the letter. ...
  • Think about what you want to say. ...
  • Think about to whom you are writing the letter. ...
  • Lay out your letter using paragraphs.

How do you start a letter? ›

Include your name before your address and your email address or phone number so the recipient knows how to contact you.
  1. Include the date. ...
  2. Start with the most appropriate greeting. ...
  3. Use the most professional form of the recipient's name. ...
  4. Begin the letter with an agreeable tone. ...
  5. Open with the purpose of writing the letter.
Feb 25, 2020

What comes after Z? ›

What should the next batch of babies be called—what comes after Z? Alpha, apparently. That's the (Greek) letter that the unofficial namers of generations—marketers, researchers, cultural commentators, and the like—have affixed to Gen Z's successors, the oldest of whom are on the cusp of turning 10.

What 3 letters were removed from the alphabet? ›

The six that most recently got axed are:
  • Eth (ð) The y in ye actually comes from the letter eth, which slowly merged with y over time. ...
  • Thorn (þ) Thorn is in many ways the counterpart to eth. ...
  • Wynn (ƿ) Wynn was incorporated into our alphabet to represent today's w sound. ...
  • Yogh (ȝ) ...
  • Ash (æ) ...
  • Ethel (œ)
Feb 25, 2017

What are the angel letters? ›

The Angel Letters is his extraordinary book based on his experiences. It is intended for the living but is composed in the form of letters addressed to a dozen different children whose last days and months he shared intimately. From each experience he draws a lesson―in love, family, courage, belonging, etc.

What letter is з? ›

Ze (З з; italics: З з) is a letter of the Cyrillic script.
Ze (Cyrillic)
Cyrillic letter Ze
Phonetic usage:[z]
Numeric value:7
Derived from:Greek letter Zeta (Ζ ζ)
12 more rows

Does the letter Z exist? ›

Z (or z) is the 26th and last letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its usual names in English are zed (/ˈzɛd/) and zee (/ˈziː/), with an occasional archaic variant izzard (/ˈɪzərd/).

What is the rarest letter? ›

The rarest letters in English are j, q, x, and z.

What is the best letter style? ›

Basic fonts like Arial, Courier New, Calibri, Verdana, and Times New Roman work the best. Most word processing and email programs will default to a professional and easily readable choice.

What is letter technique? ›

The lost letter technique is used to measure people's attitudes by dropping stamped letters addressed to various organizations in public areas and then recording how many of the letters are returned via the mail.

What is the most commonly used letter format? ›

The most common layout of a business letter is known as block format. Using this format, the entire letter is left justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs. Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format.

Can Z be silent? ›

Even unusual letters like Z and J are silent in words that we have adopted from foreign languages, such as marijuana (originally a Spanish word) and laissez-faire (French). But as Merriam-Webster Dictionary points out, one unusual letter is never silent: the letter V.

How do you write neatly and beautifully? ›

Here's what I learned:
  1. Choose the right pen. Before you write a word, think about your pen. ...
  2. Check your posture. Sit with your back straight, feel flat on the floor, legs uncrossed. ...
  3. Pick the right paper. ...
  4. Slow down. ...
  5. Examine your writing. ...
  6. Check the heights of your letters. ...
  7. Let yourself doodle. ...
  8. Copy handwriting you like.
May 11, 2014

How do you write a difficult letter? ›

The key to writing difficult messages is to learn to harness that advantage, by sticking to these seven rules.
  1. 1) Figure out your goal. ...
  2. 2) Stay focused. ...
  3. 3) Stay concrete. ...
  4. 4) Give the benefit of the doubt. ...
  5. 5) Ask for clarification if you need it. ...
  6. 6) Ask a friend or colleague to read it. ...
  7. 7) Send the email to yourself.

How do you make a creative letter? ›

Here are a 5 tips on how to write inspiring, creative letters:
  1. Be Yourself. Writing letters is easy once you get the hang of it. ...
  2. Create the Perfect Setting. Because writing letters is such a personal process, you need your own space. ...
  3. Ask About Them In a Funny Way. ...
  4. Carry a Notebook With You. ...
  5. Have Lots of Fun.
Dec 13, 2021

What are the 5 important parts of a letter? ›

English Plus outlines five parts of a personal letter, not used in a business setting.
  • The heading. This includes the address, line by line, with the last line being the date. ...
  • The greeting. The greeting always ends with a comma. ...
  • The body. Also known as the main text. ...
  • The complimentary close. ...
  • The signature line.
Dec 7, 2020

What is a good sentence to start a letter? ›

If you are beginning correspondence with someone about something or asking for information, begin by providing a reason for writing: I am writing to inform you about ... I am writing to ask/inquire about ... I am writing to ask about information for small businesses.

What do I say in a letter? ›

10 Things to Write About in a Letter
  1. A moment of kindness you witnessed while people-watching.
  2. A place you've always wanted to visit and what you hope to do there.
  3. One thing on this season's bucket list.
  4. A compliment you've always wanted to give to the recipient.

What is the 7 step writing process? ›

The writing process, according to the EEF's ​'Improving Literacy In Key Stage 2' guidance report, can be broken down into 7 stages: Planning, Drafting, Sharing, Evaluating,Revising, Editing and Publishing.

What are the 7 rules of writing? ›

Since then, I've learned a few tricks that work for me and may help you too, though everyone's writing experience is different.
The Seven Rules of Writing
  • Learn How to Write. ...
  • Be a Critical Reader. ...
  • Visit Cafes. ...
  • Beware the Naysayers. ...
  • Finish Your Piece and Put It Away. ...
  • Have Patience. ...
  • Follow Your Heart.
Aug 8, 2018

How can I improve my writing style? ›

Nine Basic Ways to Improve Your Style in Academic Writing
  1. Use ACTIVE VOICE. ...
  2. Mix it up in terms of PUNCTUATION. ...
  3. Vary your SENTENCE STRUCTURE. ...
  4. Closely related to this, avoid CHOPPINESS. ...
  5. Avoid REPETITION.
  6. Be CONCISE.
  7. Use the VOCABULARY that you know.
  8. But also work on expanding your VOCABULARY.

How do I start creative writing? ›

Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started
  1. Use writing prompts every week. ...
  2. Start journaling your days. ...
  3. Create an anonymous social media account. ...
  4. Find an old photo and tell its story. ...
  5. Create a character from a random name. ...
  6. Construct a character by people-watching. ...
  7. “Map” something you feel strongly about into a new context.
Dec 23, 2022

What are the 5 essentials of writing? ›

There is no formula or program for writing well. However, there are certain qualities that most examples of good writing share. The following is a brief description of five qualities of good writing: focus, development, unity, coherence, and correctness.

What is the easiest letter style? ›

Monoline is the easiest and cleanest lettering style to master, as each letter is written in caps and with unique strokes.

How to learn different lettering styles? ›

The best way to start learning hand lettering is to study letters – all kinds of letters, everywhere. Find hand letterers whose work inspires you and follow them for insights into the design process and the world of hand lettering. Fonts are a good source of inspiration for hand lettering students, too.

What is disguised writing? ›

Disguised writing is any deliberate attempt to alter one's handwriting to prevent recognition. Anonymous letters, blackmail attempts, ransom notes, threats, and similar documents are created by writers who feel their altered handwriting cannot be attributed to them.

Which type of writing is best? ›

#1) Narrative Writing

Best for fiction and creative writing. Narrative writing is storytelling in written form. It captures a journey, or a part of it, from the start to the very end.

How do you use writing skills? ›

Here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind that will help make almost anything you write easier to read and understand:
  1. Don't use complex words when simple words will do. ...
  2. Vary your sentences. ...
  3. Use specific words and phrasing. ...
  4. Don't repeat yourself. ...
  5. Eliminate filler words and filtering language.
Apr 9, 2021


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