HOW TO WRITE A FORMAL LETTER
Formal letters are letters officially written in formal styles to officials on different subject matters. They are also called business letters.
- A letter from a clerk in an office to his boss.
- A letter to business firms or public organizations.
- Letters in answer to advertisements.
FEATURES OF FORMAL LETTERS
- A formal letter has two addresses, namely: the address or the writer on the top right-hand corner with the date beneath it, and the address of the recipient on the top left-hand side, a line below the date.
- The date must be fully written as in 3rd September, 2018. Dates like 3/9/2018 and 3-9-18 are likely to have double interpretation, since they mean different things in different varieties of English. In the British English, for instance, 3/9/18 means 3rd September, 2018, but in American English it means March 9, 2018. Both varieties of English language are acceptable to us in Nigeria. It is, therefore it is important to be specific by writing the date in full. You should avoid abbreviation such as 3rd September, 2018 (with the –rd) is also acceptable, just as 1st or 7th September, 2018 is.
- The salutation of a formal letter is formal. Examp0le are Dear sir, Dear madam, as the case may be.
- The complimentary close is also formal. Examples are ‘Yours faithfully’. There must be no apostrophe before or after in ‘Yours’.
- A formal letter bears a title. Example: Application for the post of a clerk.
- The title is underlined if it is written with initial capital letters only but if all of it is in capital letters, it should not be underlined.
- The title comes after the salutation of the letter.
- The boy of the letter must be carefully organized and in formal language to depict the official nature of the letter.
- Short forms like ‘I’ll, I’ve, you’d’t.c must be avoided.
- The use of slang, jokes and any other informal expressions is not tolerated in formal letters.
- The letter must be straight to the point. There is no room for beating about the bush.
- Use the block format in writing your address and the address of the recipient.
- The signature appears after the complimentary close. Under the signature, the full name of the sender must be printed, giving the full name, or initials, and the surname.