The Main Features of a Formal Letter

What are the main features of formal letter? The answer is more surprising than you imagined.

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    What is a Formal Letter?

    black and silver fountain pen with its cap off.
    Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

    It is a type of letter writing that is used for official purposes, including business and professional communication. In order to improve our resources, remember that at some point, every individual will need to write formal letters on a variety of topics.

    This form of communication is between two individuals who may or may not be well acquainted. But, they still maintain a respectful and distant relationship that requires formal formality.

    Official letters (a type of formal letter) are often the formal type of letter used by offices, departments, or institutions to exchange official messages. This letter possesses certain characteristics that distinguish it from many other formal letters.

    A formal letter uses a formal and ceremonial language. It follows a certain format. Recipients of official letters are officials, dignitaries, colleagues, seniors, etc., but not for personal contacts, friends, or family.

    What Are the Features of Formal Letter?

    Writing formal letters is more serious than other letter types. When a formal letter is required or used, the language and structure of the letter must be observed.

    Unlike informal letters, language should be courteous and decent. Again, the letter should be simple, clear, and concise.

    Slangs and ambiguous words are not used in formal letters.

    There should not be any contraction during the writing of a formal letter. Contractions are words created by omitting or combining more than one word or sound. An example would be saying “I’m” instead of “I am.” 

    Structure of a Formal Letter

    A formal letter’s layout or format is one of its main features. Formal letters should be well-structured. Therefore, the parts of the letter must be present and, more importantly, should be appropriated to their correct positions.

    The different parts of a formal letter are the following:

    • Addresses and Date
    • Greeting
    • Subject
    • Main Body
    • Closing Paragraph
    • Signing off

    Let’s take a closer look at these parts. 

    Addresses & Date

    There are two addresses in a formal letter – the address of the sender and the address of the recipient.

    The address of the sender should be on the right side of the letter. The recipient’s address, on the other hand, is on the left.

    Greeting

    A formal letter always starts with a salutation. It is placed below the recipient’s address and before the subject of the letter. 

    Subject

    The subject is the letter’s reason. In this section, the primary purpose is stated. For example, if this is a letter of resignation, the subject can be “Notice of Resignation.”

    Main Body

    The body is the most important part of a formal letter. This captures the essence of the letter and the message that the sender wishes to convey to the receiver. For convenience, brevity, and clarity, the body of a letter usually includes paragraphs.

    Closing Paragraph

    The closing paragraph must present the central idea of the letter, reinforce the aim and promote the actions the recipient expects from the sender. 

    Signing Off

    The letter’s last part includes the sender stating their name and appending their signature. Above the name and signature of the sender, you will find the phrases: “Yours faithfully,” or “Your sincerely,”.

    The Main Features of a Formal Letter

    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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