As a student involved in Govt. Job Exam Preparation, you will find that letter writing is an important part of the descriptive paper conducted by SSC & SBI. Through letter writing, the ability to express your thoughts in a structured manner is tested. Although most of us have written letters during school time, yet the finer points of structured letter writing must be learnt and practiced diligently.
Keeping this in mind, experts from the Institute for Best Bank PO Coaching in Delhi have drafted this ready reckoner on how to write an impressive letter.
What is a Letter?
A letter is used for communicating. This communication can be Informal or Formal.
Informal Letter – When we write a letter to our friends, relatives, parents, someone close to us or someone we share a personal / casual / informal relation with, is known as informal letter writing. It generally doesn’t follow any particular structure, pattern, style, or rule.
Formal/Business Letter – When we write a letter to a professional group, business partners, employees, co-workers, clients, employers, etc. with whom we share a formal/professional connection, it is formal / business letter writing.
Purpose & Types of Formal Letters
Any formal letter is written with a specific professional purpose. While going through a letter and its contents, you will automatically understand what type of formal letter it is.
- Informational / Sales Letter– It is used mainly for business purposes. The purpose of this letter is to grab the attention of the recipient to a specific issue at hand and its solution.
- Motivational Letter– The purpose of this type of letter is to motivate the recipient. The recipient can be a person or a particular group. The idea is to motivate the recipient(s) to accomplish a desired target/goal. An illustrative scenario can be: a team leader writing a motivational letter to his entire team members to have the monthly target achieved on time.
- Promotional Letter– This letter is used to promote a product, a service, a concept, an idea, etc. It is generally sent to existing customers or a group of prospective customers. Organizations send a lot of promotional letters in the form of mailers.
- Persuasive Letter– This letter is used to persuade the recipient. The persuasiveness may be related to scenarios such as:
Scenario 1 – You have a query related to your loan approval from a certain bank. So you write a persuasive letter to the Bank Manager listing your queries, doubts, points of ambiguity and expect a reply from the bank.
Scenario 2 – Your housing society has sewage pits which have been open for several weeks now. You write a persuasive letter to the Municipal Corporation Department concerned. In that letter, you explain the situation and convince the authorities to take prompt action and sort out the problem.
Format of a Business Letter
A formal letter consists of various parts as discussed below:
- The Sender’s Address – If a letterhead is not used, the sender’s address is written at the top of the letter. Don’t write the sender’s name or title as it is written towards the end.
- Date – It is the date on which you write the letter. Write the final date, if you write the letter over a period of time.
- Recipient’s Address – The receiver’s address is mentioned. Here, it is advisable to write the name of the person concerned, including a title such as: Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.
- The Salutation – Over here, you address the person to whom you are writing the letter. The common salutation formats are: Dear <title> <the last name of the person>. Ex: Dear Mr. Sharma, or Dear <title> <the first name (if you know the person personally)>. Ex: Dear Mr. Raj.
- The Introduction or Opening Line – This part contains the subject of the letter. It is a summary in one sentence or two, explaining the goal of the letter. The opening lines are used to make a reference to the previous correspondence (if any); to mention how you found the recipient’s name/address; to communicate the purpose of the letter to the recipient.
- The Body – This portion is the lengthiest among all. It explains every aspect of your message in detail.
- The Closing Line – You need a closing line in a formal letter to make reference to a future event; to repeat an apology; to offer help; etc.
- The Complimentary Line – This section makes the recipient aware that the letter is going to end with a complimentary note such as: yours sincerely, yours faithfully, yours truly etc. Remember not to use an apostrophe in ‘Yours’.
- The Signature – It consists of the sender’s name and position (if any & if needed).
- The Enclosures – The list of enclosures/enclosed documents along with the letter are mentioned here.
Section-wise Illustrative Words/Sentences
- Dear Personnel Director,
- Dear Sir/Madam, (Use it when you are not aware whom you are writing to)
- Dear Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss Sharma, (Use it if you know whom you are writing to). Use Ms. for women unless asked to use Mrs. or Miss.
- Dear Rohan, (Use this if the person is a close formal contact or a close colleague)
(II) Opening Lines
- With reference to your letter on 8th June, I …………..
- In response to your letter on 8th June ……..
- I am writing to enquire about ………..
- After having seen your advertisement in ………, I ……
- I recently wrote to you regarding ………
- Thank you for your letter on 8th
- Thank you for your letter regarding ………
- While requesting
- Could you possibly ………
- I would be grateful if you could ……..
- I would be delighted to ………..
- While informing bad news
- Unfortunately …………
- I am afraid that ……….
- I apologize, but …….. OR I apologize to inform you that …….
- I am enclosing ……….
- Please find enclosed ………
- Enclosed with this letter, you will find ………..
- Please find the following enclosures: 1) ……., 2) ………, 3) ……..
(IV) Closing Lines
- If you require any further help/information, please feel free to contact me.
- I look forward to your reply.
- Please advice as necessary.
- We/I look forward to a mutually beneficial working relationship in future.
- Should you need any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
- Once again, I express regret for any inconvenience caused.
- I/We would appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.
(V) Complimentary Line
- Formal: Truly yours, Yours truly, Yours faithfully, Very truly yours, Yours very truly.
- Less Formal: Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Yours sincerely, Very sincerely yours, Yours very sincerely.
- Some Additional: Best wishes, Regards, Respectfully, Respectfully yours, Yours respectfully, With appreciation, With sincere appreciation, With gratitude, With sincere thanks.
Key Points – Formal Letter
The below mentioned points taught in classes for IBPS Coaching in Delhi must be kept in mind while writing a letter during the exam. These points are as follows:
- Identify your recipient or target audience well before writing the letter.
- Do make it a point to proofread your letter in order to avoid any incorrect sentence structure, grammatical error, unnecessary words, or typos.
- Avoid using technical jargon, highly typical words/terms.
- The style of communication should be polite, respectful and courteous, even if it is a complaint. Simply state the problem along with any other relevant information. Be sure to avoid slander or threat.
- Keeping in mind the tone of the letter is very important because if you don’t pay attention, at times, you may end up sounding informal or out of track. Focusing on your choice of adjectives and avoiding slangs are effective ways of doing away with tone errors.
- Keep your letter short, crisp and to-the-point. Use the KISS technique i.e. KISS – Keep it Short & Simple.
- Avoid using abbreviations. Your recipient or target audience may not be aware of them and this may cause doubt/confusion.
- Lesser use of punctuation marks in a formal letter is a good practice. Use punctuation wisely, when really required.
- Do make a note of the attachment(s) you send along with the letter. This helps you avoid any sort of ambiguity related to the documents sent.
- Try to write an impactful closing statement so that your exact message gets conveyed to the recipient(s).
As a student enrolled in one of the Top Bank PO Coaching Institutes, it is critical that you write sample letters to perfect what you have learnt here. Without writing ample number of letters, it will be difficult to put these fundamentals into practice.
Formal letter writing is an essential part of any descriptive test. This article has been written specifically to enhance your knowledge related to formal letter writing. In case of any further queries/doubts, pls. feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.