In the modern world, technology forms the basis of our communication. With the rise of computers and smartphones, communication often occurs through texting, email, and even social media.
Even though communication is dominated by these online modes, formal letters still play a large role in society. You may think letters have become obsolete, but that is simply not the case; in 2016, the average American received 458 letters.
It is true that some of these may have been marketing letters, but this statistic shows the importance that mail still plays. Formal letters are still used in a variety of situations.
In this article, we’ll be talking about their importance, and the steps you can take to write comprehensive formal letters! Ready? Let’s go!
What is a Formal Letter? (Definition)
A formal letter is defined as a letter written for a professional setting that follows certain guidelines and formats. It usually adheres to conventional standards and utilizes a ceremonious choice of language that is appropriate for official correspondence.
A formal letter can be used in various scenarios that require communication with professional contacts or authorities. For example, you can write formal letters in your workplace, such as to your boss or people in HR, perhaps for topics like sick leaves or resignation letters.
You can also use formal letters to communicate with heads of other companies, such as to offer a contract or renegotiate the terms of an existing agreement.
Another example is to communicate with your professor or principal. It can also be used to convey information to authorities like your local police department, senator, or mayor.
These kinds of letters are not meant for personal contacts like friends or family.
Formal letters are written using simple but structured sentences that deliver information in a concise manner. They often convey important and serious pieces of information that need to be recorded in a proper manner. This is why they are preferred over verbal conversations in professional settings.
Read more: Business Letters: Definition, Types, Format, and Tips!
Importance of a Formal Letter
1. Aids in Formal Communication
Formal letters allow you to communicate with your colleagues, bosses, other companies, or those in authoritative positions like government representatives.
They act as official modes of communication in formal situations.
2. Serves as Legal Documentation
Formal letters act as official methods of communication as they are often inscribed with signatures or even the stamps of the company letterhead.
In case there is any problem in the future, formal letters act as legal proof of the conversation that occurred. Hence, formal letters can be used as a defense if there is a court case in the future.
3. Creates Goodwill
With the rise of online technology-based communication channels, anyone can just send a text and send their message across.
However, sending a formal letter can show your professionalism and seriousness with regard to the working relationship, as it takes more effort to write a formal letter. This creates goodwill in the eyes of your client or other professional contacts.
Read more: Thank You Letters: What are they & How to Write a Perfect One?
How to Create a Formal Letter? (Steps & Format)
There are various steps of writing a comprehensive formal letter:
Step 1. Mention Sender’s Address
Start off the letter with your detailed address, so that the receiver knows where it’s coming from.
This is also important in case the letter isn’t received and can be returned to you easily.
Step 2. Mention Receiver’s Address
Add the receiver’s address so that it can be mailed easily and without any confusion. Make sure you add landmarks and pin codes to make them easier to find.
Also, add the official name or title of the receiver as the first line of the address, so it can be directed to that person easily.
Step 3. Include Date
Note the date that you wrote the letter, so there is a clear timeline established.
This is important so that the date can be kept on record in case further clarification is required in the future.
Step 4. Write the Subject of the Letter
Include a short phrase or sentence to give a quick gist of the content of the letter.
Step 5. Include Greetings
This is where you start off the actual content of the letter by greeting the person you are writing the letter to.
In formal letters, the salutation is usually their last name or the title they hold.
You can specify their gender by preceding the name with “Mr.” or “Ms”, or succeeding it with “Sir” or “Madam”.
Step 6. Start with the Introduction
The first paragraph should ease into the main content and purpose of the letter.
Give a brief introduction about yourself and politely ask how the receiver is doing.
Step 7. Add Body of the Formal Letter
In this paragraph, go in-depth about the purpose of the letter and convey the relevant points and information that you wish to get across.
If there are multiple points that need explanation, make the letter organized by creating more paragraphs or writing the points in a numbered fashion. This will make the text more digestible and prevent a cluster of large sentences that the reader has to wade through.
Remember to keep the tone formal and the sentences short. The language used should be professional but should allow the receiver to understand the contents easily. No matter the topic of the letter, always be considerate and respectful in the choice of words.
Step 8. Conclusion
Conclude your letter by simply stating what it is you are asking for (only as a reminder – this should already be specified in the body).
Let them know that you are hoping to hear from them soon and wish them a great day.
Step 9. Closing
Once your conclusion is done, write a complimentary closing like “Yours Sincerely” or “Best Regards”.
Step 10. Include Signature of the Authority
Write your name under the closing line and make sure you sign next to it. This will prove the authenticity of the letter and ensures that the receiver knows it’s actually from you.
Step 11. Proofreading
You’ve gone through all the steps so it’s time to print it out and mail it! However, it is important to proofread the content of your letter to make sure there are no mistakes. Check the grammar and double-check the addresses and names, as they play a crucial part in your letter reaching the receiver.
Once you end up printing the letter, there is no chance of editing it. If you realize the mistake later, you’ll have to go back to the document, edit it, and print it again. This wastes so much time, effort, and money (aka printer ink!)
Writing a formal letter may also require input from multiple people. For example, you are assigned the task of renegotiating the terms of an agreement with an existing client.
You may be required to draft the initial letter, but then it needs to be proofread by your boss and then authorized by the finance department.
Sending this document back and forth between multiple parties can cause confusion regarding the latest, updated letter. This is where a tool like Bit.ai can make life much easier!
Bit.ai: The Best Tool for Creating All Sorts of Letters
Bit.ai is a modern-day document collaboration platform that allows you to create, organize, share and manage documents with ease. Bit lets you embed any kind of images, videos, media, and links directly into your documents. This cloud-based platform is amazing, and here are a few reasons why:
- Collaborate in Real-Time: Bit allows you to work with multiple people in real-time. While creating a formal letter, you and your colleagues can work collaboratively and add relevant points as they come up in the brainstorming session. This allows both parties to work simultaneously, rather than waiting for the other to finish, which is the case when using software like MS Word.
- Negotiate Using Comments: Collaborators can comment on individual pieces of text or phrases that they feel need to be altered. This can be used to negotiate in real-time, and hence phrases in letters can be modified accordingly. This is so convenient when letters need to be proofread by multiple parties. Once the modification is done, comments can be “resolved” and you can move on to the next line.
- Create Interactive Documents: Use Bit to embed images or other media right into your formal letter. These letters will stand out as they are interactive and go beyond the realms of plain old text.
- Document Templates: Bit has over 100 templates that make it really useful to get started with making different types of letters and agreements. The framework is already laid out, so all you need to do is add the details that are relevant to your specific letter!
We hope you have understood why formal letters form the basis of professional communication. They show your seriousness in keeping the relationship formal and enhancing goodwill. They also serve as legal proof in case something goes wrong.
You should always use the steps given above to structure your formal letter so that it can be as comprehensive and compelling as possible. I guarantee that if you use all the steps, your letter will definitely impress the receiver.
To make the letter-making procedure smoother, use Bit so that you can collaborate and make the letter interactive. So what’re you waiting for? Go make your formal letter using Bit now!
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The smartest online Google Docs and Word alternative, Bit.ai is used in over 100 countries by professionals everywhere, from IT teams creating internal documentation and knowledge bases, to sales and marketing teams sharing client materials and client portals.
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