The lost art form of letter writing is making a come back. With social distancing in place, people are looking to connect with others any way they can. Plus, who doesn’t like receiving a letter in the mail? The trouble is if you have never written a letter before, you may not know how to. Whether you are writing a letter for personal reasons or business reasons, here are some tips to get you started.
Start with your details
The beginning of any letter should include:
- The date,
- Your name,
- Your address,
- And it typically starts with Dear (insert name) even if you writing a business letter.
If you are writing a personal letter, I would still include your name and date at a minimum. If the letter is delayed for whatever reason, you will always know when it was written. The address is less critical with a personal letter, but you must include it on the envelope in case the letter can not be delivered.
Next is the body of the letter
The body of the letter typically includes four to five paragraphs for a business letter (approximately one page) or more if you are writing a personal letter.
For business, the first paragraph explains the reason for the letter, and the subsequent paragraphs typically support the main focus or goal of the letter. The last paragraph is usually some form of a call to action. Remember, spelling and grammar are of the utmost importance for business communication.
If you are writing a personal letter, the writing is more conversational. And it tends to be more, well, personal. You may tell the reader any news you have to share. Ask about their welfare or what is happening in their life. Or you may send recent pictures or small items with the letter. You may find that writing a letter to a friend or family member is as therapeutic for yourself to write it as it is for them to receive it.
Some tips for the body of the letter.
- Avoid rambling on an on.
- Showcase your personality and get creative if the subject lends itself to that.
- Have the right balance of short and long sentences.
- Keep paragraphs to four or five sentences.
- Space paragraphs for easy reading.
The sign off
To end your letter, you will want to include sign off with your name. A common sign off is thank you for a business letter or yours truly for a personal letter. Other sign off options include:
- Sincerely (Be careful, tons of people spell this wrong)
- To your health
- With love
It goes without saying, but I will, anyway. A more formal signoff is better for a business letter. You can spice it up a bit more if it’s personal OR if your business letters tone is more fun and personable. Make sure you keep your target audience in mind. Would they like the signoff you used?
Use a postscript
Ever wonder what P.S. stands for? Well, now, you know. Since most people skim letters for business, it can be an incredibly powerful way to get a specific point to stand out. Even in personal letter writing, people are more likely to read headings, bullets, and postscripts. You can also add a P.P.S. Or P.P.P.S at the end of the letter for fun.
On that note.
P.S. In case anyone reading this post is worried about sending a letter or package during COVID-19, here is a New York Times article on the subject.
In summary, the article says it is hypothetically possible but not likely because of how long it takes to receive a letter. In Canada it is usually a minimum of 24 hours. It is however, with anything you do right now, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands.
I wouldn’t let the fear of sending a letter stop you from sending it but that’s just me. If you are concerned, a letter written by email is better than no letter sent at all.
As always, I’m happy to help you with your letter writing. Have any other tips for letter writers? Feel free to post them in the comments.