Writing letters used to be an art as much as a skill that adults were expected to be proficient at. With modern-day methods of communication, very few write letters any longer. Yet, letter writing is still a skill that we want to pass on for several reasons:
- Important, legal, and professional business situations still require many things “in writing.”
- Most job applications will need to be submitted with a cover letter.
- Letters are considered more professional than other forms of communication.
- Letters document or confirm important matters.
- Letter writing reflects a personal interest.
- Letters last.
You may end up writing a letter of complaint, approval, application, resignation, apology, confirmation, request, or thanks.
Letters are living records.
You’ll find helpful resources below.
- Become familiar with the standard business letter form. These days we typically use the block format (each paragraph aligned to the left with a double- or line-and-a-half-space between paragraphs).
- Learn the different salutations or greetings used in a business letter.
- Learn the different appropriate closings in a business letter.
- Learn how to correctly address an envelope.
- Learn how to correctly fold a business letter.
- Become familiar with the friendly letter format (address, date, and signature sit to the right, paragraphs are indented with normal spacing between them).
- Practice. It is always best to write letters with a purpose — ones you can actually send! Here are a few ideas:
- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper about an article you read that has affected you in some way.
- Write a letter to a state or federal government official about an issue you feel strongly about.
- Write a letter to a company praising a product you have used and are exceptionally pleased with.
- Write a letter to a church leader thanking that person for the job he or she does.
- Write a thank-you note the next time you receive a gift.
- Write a friendly letter to a relative you haven’t seen in a while.
- Write a Christmas letter sending greetings to relatives and friends near and far.
- Write a letter of congratulations on the event of someone’s graduation, engagement or wedding announcement, promotion, or other event.
Both business and friendly letter samples in this download at ReadWriteThink.
Standard Business Letter Format
Great example from the University of Northern Iowa College of Business that includes appropriate salutations and closings, and correct folding.
Addressing an Envelope
Simple explanation at ReadWriteThink.
Friendly Letter Template
Download from K6Edu.
Samples of various business letters.
Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home by Emily Post
The etiquette of letter writing — because manners are never out of date.