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How to Write a Letter October 29, 2008

 

    Sometimes you know you may need or want to send a letter to family member, friend or a business, but getting started or understanding the different components and aspects of writing a letter may not be clear to you.  Wikihow.com provides a great general summary of “How to write a letter”. 
     
    In the age of e-mail and cell phones, writing a letter may seem like an ancient ritual that is only practiced by those of earlier generations, but there are many personal and professional rewards to sitting down and expressing yourself with a written letter. Whether writing a quick note to a friend to say hello or composing a business letter to an authority figure, writing a letter shows effort, respect and care for others.  Wikihow.com provides a great general summary of “How to write a letter”
     
     
  1. Provide the context of the letter. Put all the information that the reader will want to know at the beginning of the letter, before you even begin to write the body. If you’re writing to a close friend, you won’t need much except the date, which will be good for if they save your letter and want to remember when they received it. If you’re writing a business letter, on the other hand, the reader may not even know who wrote the letter (if an assistant threw the envelopes away before passing along the letters). The arrangement of this information depends on what kind of letter you’re writing, but as long as you provide it neatly and completely, you should be fine:
    • Your address, sometimes including contact information; some people prefer to write this out at the bottom of the letter, under the signature and printed name. This can also go at the top as letterhead.
    • The recipient’s name, address, contact information; in business letters, this can be referred to as the “inside address”; if you don’t know the recipient’s title (Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr.) err on the side of caution–use Ms. or Dr. if you think it might apply;use your country’s address format; if the inside address is in a country other than yours, write their country’s name in capital letters as the last line.
    • The date
    • A subject line, usually beginning with “RE:” (e.g. RE: Graduation application #4487)
  2. Start with a proper greeting. The opening should begin at the left side of the page, not the middle or up against the right side of the sheet. The most common opening is “Dear” followed by the person’s first name and a comma. For a more casual greeting, you can write “Hello (name),” or “Hey (name),” but if the letter is more formal, use the recipient’s last name and a colon instead of a comma (e.g. “Dear Mr. Johnson:”. Sometimes, if you don’t know the recipient’s name, you can write “To Whom It May Concern:” If you don’t know the person’s gender, write out their full name (e.g. Dear Ashley Johnson:).
  3. Write an opening paragraph. Tailor your opening to the recipient. For example, if the letter is casual, you can begin with, “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?”. Otherwise, a simple “How are you?” is fine. If it is a business letter, go straight to explaining why you are writing the letter. Summarize your intentions and be sure to write clearly so the reader will understand you.
  4. Construct the body of the letter. This is the part that will really be unique to each letter. Most business letters should be no more than two pages long, but casual letters can be as long or as short as you want them to be. No matter who you’re writing to, try not to ramble. Keep each paragraph engaging.
  5. Use the closing paragraph to indicate the type of response you are seeking. If you would like a letter in return, you can write, “Please write when you have a chance” or, if you prefer a phone call/email, write “Call me soon.” or “Email me some time”.
  6. Include a closing such as “Love always” ,”Cheers”, “Sincerely”, “Talk soon”, or “Look forward to seeing you soon”. Again, choose your closing based on the recipient. The closing can be aligned on the left or the right side of the page. In business letters, stick with “Regards,” or “Respectfully,” and sign your name underneath. Then print your name under the signature.
  7. Address your envelope. Your address should be written on the front of the envelope in the upper left hand corner or on the back. The recipient’s address must be on the front of the envelope, right in the middle. Fold your letter in any way you would like, but just be sure that it will fit into the envelope. Put your letter in the envelope, seal it, stamp it and send it off.  <– iwiLetter.com will handle this part of it for you 😉
     
    Wikihow.com also provides specific information and instructions to follow when writing specific kinds of letters, whether they are Complaint Letters, Business Letters, Personal Letters, Job Resignation Letters, etc.  For example:
     
    Complaint Letters
    There is no reason for consumers to be unhappy with the goods and services they receive. A respectful and thoughtful, though forceful, Complaint Letter/letter of grievance can turn a lemon into lemonade. How to do it is covered here, covering things like:
    -Be polite! Being rude won’t get you anywhere.
    -Keep on point and get to the point fast.
    -State specifically what outcome or remedy you want.
     
    Job Resignation Letters
    One of the greatest secrets of career success is knowing when to move on. With the right resignation letter, you will do so with satisfaction and leave on good terms with your previous employer.  For example:
    -Say thank you. Resist the temptation to leave a piece of your mind.
    -Give proper notice. It is simple courtesy.Wikihow also gives Tips and Warnings to following when writing a Resignation Letter, for example:
    -Do not discuss your resignation with co-workers.
    -Keep any emotion out of the letter. Avoid the temptation to tell off your boss, spreading mistrust, etc. 
    http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Resignation-Letter
    Letters to Government Officials
    Wikihow.com even provides a  ‘How To’ guide on Writing a Letter to a Government Official.  How often have we been advised to ‘write our Congressmen’ when we’re up to our armpits in some sort of dilemma or challenge such as mammoth-sized pot-holes, funky school lunches, or runaway drug costs for senior citizens? So now you’ve decided to take action and ask for help from your Uncle Sam (or local Alderman). Good for you, let’s get started!
    http://www.wikihow.com/Address-a-Letter-to-a-Government-Official
    Well, there’s some How, Why, and Who about writing and sending letters.  Let’s get started writing letters now!  iwLetter.com not only provides the quick and easy way to send a real letter online, we also provide Sample Letters to help you get started! http://iwiletter.com/loadsampleletter.html
     
     
    iwiLetter.com– send real letters, write online
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