Writing a letter means taking into account the intended recipient as well as the overall message. There are two main types of letters--business and personal letters. A business letter may be a sales letter or a letter informing clients, employees or stockholders of events that are transpiring within the business. A personal letter is just that--personal. It may be made up of many different personal items that are intended for friends, family members or acquaintances.
- Business letters: A business letter should be formatted with a left justified dateline two inches from the top to indicate the date the letter was finished. This is followed by the sender's complete address just below the dateline, without a name or title. Below that should be the recipient's address, including the name or title. The letter should then have a salutation mentioning the recipient by name. After leaving one blank, the body section of the letter should be left justified and a blank left in between each paragraph.
The body should be a concise and to-the-point letter that begins with a paragraph overview of the point of the letter. Subsequent paragraphs should back up the point with some type of evidence, and the last paragraph should be a conclusion that wraps up the point and calls for some form of action on the part of the recipient. The closing should come just below the end of the last paragraph, and the first word should be capitalized. Many people use "Sincerely" as a standard closing, but "Thank you" or any other professional-sounding closing will work. The name of the sender should come three to four lines after the closing to allow room for a written signature.
- Personal letters: Personal letters are much less constrained by form or content, but usually will have five parts. The heading is usually a dateline at the top of the page. After one skipped line, write a greeting, which will vary in its degree of formality. It could read "Dear Aunt Matilda," or "Greetings," or just "Hi!"
The body of a personal letter will be made up of indented or left-justified paragraphs, and do not have a restricted form. Any information you want to convey is fine. Simply watch for grammar and spelling mistakes. The closing is also less formal than in a business letter. A few examples of these are "Yours truly," "Love," and "Your friend." After the closing, your name should be about three lines below it to make room for a written signature. If the letter is being handwritten, the extra spacing is unnecessary.