Expert Tips for Informal and Formal Letter Writing

Informal and formal letter writing are the two main forms of written communication. Before you start writing a letter, you should first figure out if it will be an informal or formal letter. If you know the recipient professionally, you should write a formal letter.

Informal Letter

You write a personal letter to people you know well, like friends, siblings, parents, or anyone else close to you. This letter doesn’t have to be written in a structured way.

In an informal letter, you can be friendly and write personally or emotionally. Depending on how well you know the person you’re writing to, you may also use slang or standard terms, codes, abbreviations, etc.

Informal letter is used to send a message, news, advice, congratulatory wishes, request for information, ask questions, etc.

Formal Letter

A formal letter is any letter that is written in professional language and follows a specific format. When writing a formal letter, keep the following things in mind:

  • Formal letters come in a particular format.
  • They are concise and brief.
  • It should be helpful and unbiased.
  • It should not be hard to understand.
  • Even if it’s a letter of complaint, it should be polite.
  • It shouldn’t have any grammatical or spelling mistakes.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Structure: Informal and Formal Letter Writing

Whether the letter is formal or informal, the ideal writing approach will vary. When drafting a formal letter, follow these steps:

  • Make the text left-aligned.
  • Indicate the name, address, and contact information at the top of the page, usually on the left or right.
  • Include the date you wrote the letter in its entirety. Make a new line and align it to the left. 
  • Write the recipient’s title, name, firm, address, and contact information directly beneath the date. 
  • Begin with a formal salutation, such as “Dear Mr. Dike,” and finish with a colon. You can use their full name or last name to address them. If you are unsure who will get the letter, use “To whom it may concern.” 
  • Write a brief introduction or opening phrase that states the letter’s objective. 
  • Write the body of the letter, which should be two to three paragraphs long, and give supporting material. Each section should make a single point and be written professionally. 
  • Add a closing sentence summarizing the letter’s goal and giving the recipient a call to action. “Sincerely, BO Frances,” for example, is an excellent way to end. 
  • Sign your full name beneath the complementary close after skipping two lines.

Tips to Help You Draft an Informal letter

  • If necessary, include the date in the upper left corner.
  • Begin with a casual salutation, such as “Hi Marty,”* and then a comma.
  • Create a short introduction that explains why you’re writing. “How are you doing?” is an excellent place to start. 
  • To add extra detail and personal information, use as many body paragraphs. 
  • Finish with a concluding paragraph that highlights the letter’s main goal and, if relevant, a call to action. Include a kind finish like “Thanks, Benjamin.” 
  • If you want to insert a closing note, use a postscript (P.S.).

The tone of your informal letter should be similar to how you regularly communicate with that person.

Difference Between Formal and Informal Letters

Here are some of the most critical ways that formal and informal letters are different:

  • A formal letter is written in formal language and follows the rules for how it should be formatted. An informal letter is written to someone you know and is written in a friendly way. 
  • Formal letters are used to communicate formally or professionally. On the other hand, informal letters are written to talk to people casually or personally. 
  • Formal letters have to be written in a certain way. Unlike informal communication, which doesn’t have a set way of doing things. 
  • Most formal letters are written in the third person. On the other hand, business letters are written in the first person. On the other hand, first, second, and third person are all informal letters. 
  • Formal letters are written to business partners, suppliers, customers, clients, etc. We use informal letters to write to friends, family, acquaintances, etc. 
  • When we write a formal letter, we use long, complicated sentences. In an informal letter, on the other hand, we use short, simple sentences that are easy to understand. 
  • A formal letter should be short, and it shouldn’t include anything that isn’t important. On the other hand, an informal letter can be short or long. 
  • Formal letters don’t use contractions or abbreviations. Instead, they use the complete forms of words, unlike informal letters, which use contractions, abbreviations, idioms, phrasal verbs, and even slang and colloquial terms.

Why you should write a letter

You could write a letter to a friend, colleague, or professor to:

  • Show evidence of a conversation or agreement.
  • Show that you care about a job or a cause.
  • Add a personal touch to your message.
  • Put out a message.
  • Develop lasting impressions

Types of letters

Letters are organized under two main categories: formal and informal. 

Formal Letter types include: 

  • Thank you
  • Sympathy or condolence
  • Love
  • Announcements, such as a name or an address change
  • Welcome

Formal Letter types include:

  • Job or school application
  • Rejection letter
  • Recommendation or referral
  • Agreement
  • Interview follow-up or thank you

The format of formal and informal letters

 This section will help you understand the difference between formal and informal letters.

Format of Formal Letter

Address of the sender


Name of the Recipient: Designation/ Organization’s Name/ Address

Salutation: (Dear Sir/Madam)

Subject: Brief outline of the purpose of writing the letter

Body of the letter

1st Paragraph: A brief explanation of the reason for the letter.

2nd Paragraph: The aim of the letter (in clear, formal language, leaving out unimportant issues)

3rd Paragraph: Thank the person for their time and tell them what they should do next. This is what the letter is for. (For instance: Thank you for taking this into account. Waiting for a positive answer from you)

Yours Sincerely/Faithfully

Name of the Sender


Format of an Informal Letter

Date: ___________

Dear [Subject Name_]

Introduce yourself and talk about what the letter is about.

Include details about why you are writing to them, how you feel, what happened, etc. The right length is two to three paragraphs.

Finish your letter and say goodbye. 

Yours, with love

 Signature & Name

To Wrap Up

Informal and formal letters of writing are there for a reason. They serve different purposes and deliver their messages differently.

It’s important to know the differences among the two and what you can expect from each to make the most of your writing.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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