andy chukswhat type of letter? Formal or informal letter? 0009 April 2012
andy chuksFor any letter, first you should establish the purpose of the letter. Know what you want to write or say to the recipient.
1 - Then the structure of the letter
Every good letter has three sections. The opening, the body and the closing. In addition, a good letter should have a salutation or greeting and a signatory way of closing. For business letters, you might also have a masthead or logo.
The Opening: It is customary, not to mention polite, to greet the recipient in some way when first beginning a letter. "Hi, how are you," or "I've just been thinking about you..." etc. This is the ice breaker, or means of getting your reader ready for what you really want to write about.
The Body: Depending on the type of letter, it is almost always a good idea to write an outline of what you want to say before jumping in. This will help you get your ideas in some order and help you move from one topic to the next. It will also help your reader to follow what you have to say. Write the body in clean paragraphs with each paragraph introduced when a new idea, change in tone or concept is to be discussed.
The Closing: As with speaking, it is generally a good idea to give the person who is to read your letter some feeling of conclusion as they finish the letter. Abrupt endings are generally annoying to readers and good letters, though they may not have good things to say, don't necessarily have to end without some sort of finish.
2 - Tone. How you sound in your letter is critical. If you wish to convey information in an encyclopedic way, then simple blunt statements will suffice. This will generally not be the case for most letters though, because letters are generally written when people are emotionally motivated to do so. The sound of a love letter for example, should be dramatically different from that of a letter to your child's fourth grade teacher. In short, the tone should match as closely as possible the tone that would be used were you there to say the words yourself to your recipient.
3 - Spelling, punctuation and grammar. To write a good letter, you need to do your best to ensure your spelling, punctuation and grammar are as correct as you are capable of making them be. Use a spell-checker in your word processor. Look up words you are unsure of in a dictionary. If possible, have others proofread your work. Anything and everything you can do to make a nice clean document will enhance the effect of your finished product.