Techniques of Modern Letter Writing

Techniques of Modern Letter Writing

We cannot live in isolation in the fast-moving, materialistic world of today. We have to write and receive letters on countless occasions. A letter is a good substitute for a personal visit to a person. It is a personal and intimate conversation in written words between those persons who are far away from each other. Letters narrow the distance between the writer and the recipient of a letter. They form a vital link between two throbbing hearts and keep the flame of love and affection burning bright. Much of our social, personal and commercial success depends upon our skill in writing letters.

It is also a fact that we come across certain situations in life when we rightly and strongly feel that our thoughts can be communicated better in writing than in speaking. Letters have some advantage over speech. This is why some people prefer to communicate through letters while living at the same town and in the same locality. Letters also provide the opportunity to express our intimate and heart-felt personal feelings which cannot be talked about in public. A letter provides various feelings like comfort, excitement and encouragement to its reader as per the nature of the letter and the occasion on which it is penned.

It goes without saying that every letter reflects the total personality of its Writer. It is the mirror of his ideas and emotions. It reveals him or her in his or her true colours. One can easily judge the character of a person from his letters.

Good letter-writing, especially in English, is invariably an asset in the present world of growing competition.

Things to Remember

1. You should be polite, courteous, considerate, sincere and natural in your letters. A letter should be brief, lucid, complete and to the point.

2. The language should be grammatically correct, clear, coherent, direct, decent, dignified and simple. A simple language is always catchy, appealing and easily understandable.

3. You must be more careful about the tone in writing than in speaking, because the impact of the harsh tone in letter can be immediately perceived and something can be instantly done about it, but in former, it can lead to an irreparable damage.

4. The style of writing is another very important aspect in which a person presents his thoughts in his writings. The style varies from one person to another. The simple and lucid manner of writing is the best style.

5. Personal letters should be penned in an informal style. Official and business letters and letters to strangers should be written in a formal style.

6. Letters should be worded in a clear-cut and unambiguous language so that nothing can be twisted out of context.

7. Letters should be free from grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, misleading punctuation marks, antagonistic words or phrases, ridicule, sarcasm, anger and bluster. Do your best to make the reader feel that he is being well treated.

8. A letter is a conversation in written words. So it must possess the liveliness and pleasure of a face-to-face conversation.

9. Illegible writing shows careless habits. A letter penned in a careless manner is an insult to the recipient. So you should write your letters carefully, clearly, neatly and legibly.

10. A good letter is a great boost to the morale of a person. It is a visit on paper to a man.

11. A letter can be organized into three parts, namely the reason for writing the letter, the important facts, and what you seek from the recipient.

12. If a letter runs into more than a page, the pages should be serially numbered. Leave sufficient space between the paragraphs. The words and the lines should also be suitably spaced. Adequate margins at the sides have to be left.

13. There is no hard and fast rule governing the length of a paragraph. Common sense will be the best guide. Only one thought should be dealt with in one paragraph. Each paragraph should be connected with the preceding paragraph by means of the common trend and unity of thoughts. You must maintain the unity of thoughts from the first to the last paragraph.     

14. Short, simple and crisp sentences are immensely relished. Such sentences and brief paragraphs really make a delightful reading.

15. Do your best to make the letter attractive in appearance. Dress up the letter properly. Let it make a good impression on the reader.

16. Envelopes and inland letter cards are used for correspondence. Postcards may be used only when the subject-matter is of a very insignificant nature. It is to be borne in mind that a postcard cannot maintain secrecy. Secondly, it reflects upon the writer’s personality.

17. Your handwriting and the care with which you choose paper, envelope and ink show the extent of your respect for the person to whom you are writing.

18. After you have penned a letter, you must minutely revise it and correct the mistakes, if any, before you sign and post it.

Types of letters

1. Personal Letters
2. Social Letters
3. Official Letters
4. Business Letters

1. Personal Letters

Personal letters are generally written to those persons with whom the writer has intimate relations. These letters are penned to the relatives, friends, admirers, members of the family, and so on. If such a letter is written by hand, it carries much value. It shows that the writer has much interest and respect for the recipient of the letter.

2. Social Letters

A social letter is written in order to comply with a social obligation. Normally, these letters relate to invitations to social parties and functions of various kinds and replies to them. Religious ceremonies and functions also fall under this class. Besides, these include letters of introduction, request, sympathy, congratulations, condolences, apology, thanks, and so forth.

3. Official Letters

Official letters are written to government or semi-government offices, various public bodies, and so on. These letters concern private persons and official matters. These also include letters from one official to another in official capacity. Petitions, applications for employment, etc. also fall under this category.

4. Business Letters

Business letters are written to industrial enterprises, commercial organizations, shop-keepers, professional persons, newspaper editors, and so on. These letters are usually typed. These should be written very carefully to avoid mistakes, especially in figures and spellings. Because such a mistake is bound to cause problems later on.

These are, ordinarily, not much different from the general letters. The general rules and formalities, which are observed in the day to day correspondence, are equally applicable to the field of business letters. Only minor modifications are needed. The only difference is that certain commercial and technical terms and expressions are used in the business letters.

Layout of a Letter

A letter generally comprises the following parts:

1. Sender’s Address
2. Date
3. Recipient’s Address
4. Reference if any (optional)
5. Subject
6. Salutation
7. Body of the letter
8. Subscription
9. Signature
10. Enclosures if any (Optional)
11. Superscription

Left aligned: Start each new line from left hand margin.

1. Sender’s Address

It is written on the top left-hand corner of the first page of the letter about one and half inch below the top edge and a little away from the left-hand margin. If the address consists of several parts, every part has to be given a separate line. Do not put comma after every line of the address. For example:

11-A, Parley House
APJ Abul Kalam Marg

2. Date

The following are the common forms of writing the date:
(a) August 24, 20XX  
(b) 24th August, 20XX

3. Recipient’s Address

(a) In personal informal correspondence, the recipient’s address should be given in the lower left-hand side of the letter and just below the level of the writer’s signature. But generally, it is omitted.(b) In formal correspondence (official and business letters and letters to the strangers) the address of the receiver is written at the top left-hand corner of the letter a little above the salutation but below the date. For Example:

The General Manager
Tata Fertilizers Private limted
Sector-9, Mundaka

4. Reference if any (Optional)

It appears on the left hand side below the the address of the recipient. Here you can mention file number, letter no. and date of particulars of previous correspondence etc. For example:

Reference: A telephonic talk with your agent on 24th March, 20XX regarding the purchase of books

5. Subject

The subject should be mentioned briefly and underlined for quick glance. This helps the dealing assistant in quick disposal of the letter. For example:

Subject: Placing order for books

6. Salutation

It is the complimentary form used to begin a letter. The form of salutation depends upon the degree of relationship or intimacy between the writer and the addressee. Consequently, this is different in different kinds of letters.

It is written on the left-hand side just below the level of the address of the recipient. The first and the last word must begin with a capital letter. For example:

(a) My Dear Uncle
(b) Dear Sir
(c) Dear Mr. Samar
(d) Sir/Madam
(e) Respected Sir

7. Body of the letter

It is the main part of the letter and contains the principal message of the writer. The body consists of three parts, namely an introduction giving the reason for writing the letter, a message which includes the main information and a conclusion always containing a polite wish.

The body should be well arranged and divided into separate short paragraphs, if it is long. The paragraphs may vary in length according to the ideas contained therein.

You should use simple, direct and grammatically correct language. Write neatly and legibly and punctuate properly.

8. Subscription

It is also called the complementary close or end of a letter. It is a courteous leave-taking before ending a letter. It must be in accordance with the salutation in warmth and intimacy. It shows respect, affection or whatever other feelings the writer wants to express. It wholly depends upon the degree of relationship or intimacy between the writer and the addressee.

It is written a little below the body of the letter near the left-hand margin. The first word of the subscription must begin with a capital letter. The word’Yours’ in te subscription does not take an apostrophe (’). For example:

(a) Yours lovingly
(b) Yours truly
(c) Yours faithfully
(d) Yours sincerely

9. Signature

The writer must sign his or her name after the complementary close. The signature is the last part of the letter. It must be carefully, clearly, neatly and legibly written in order that the reader may know whom to address in reply. Your signature must be just below the subscription, more to the left.
10. Enclosures (Optional)

Paper or something else that is enclosed with a letter is called an enclosure. Its abbreviated form, ‘Encls.’ is written at the bottom left- hand comer of the letter. For example:

Enclosures: A photocopy of the ID proof.

12. Superscription

This is the recipient’s address on the envelope. The address should be correct and complete. The full postal address of the recipient must be written carefully, clearly and legibly. The writer should also write his or her full postal address on the back of the envelope so that, in case the letter is not delivered to the addressee, it can be returned to the sender.

Forms of Salutation

1. Members of the family & Relatives (Elder)
Dearest / Respected mother

2. Members of the family & Relatives (Younger)
Dear / My dear son

3. Friends
Dear / My dear / Dearest Sony

4. Acquaintances
Dear Mr. / Mrs. / Dr. / Prof. Garg

5. Strangers
Dear Sir / Madam, Sir / Madam

6. Official correspondence
Sir / Madam

7. Business or commercial organizations
Dear Sirs/ Sirs/ Sir/ Madam

8. Teachers, Principals and Professors
Sir / Madam

9. Newspaper editors
Sir / Madam

Forms of Subscription

1. Members of the family & Relatives (Elder)
Yours lovingly

2. Members of the family & Relatives (Younger)
Yours affectionately

3. Friends
Yours sincerely, Yours ever

4. Acquaintances
Yours sincerely, Yours truly

5. Strangers
Yours truly

6. Official correspondence

Yours faithfully

7. Business or commercial organizations
Yours faithfully

8. Teachers, Principals and Professors
Yours obediently

9. Newspaper editors
Yours truly, yours faithfully

Sample Letters

1. A Personal Letter (A Letter from Father to His Son)

12, Kabir Street
Village Kashipur

10th April, 20XX

My dear Anil
I have just received your letter dated the 9th instant. We are delighted to get it after a long time. It has now filled our hearts with genuine pleasure and vanished our extreme anxiety about your health and welfare. Truly speaking, we had been eagerly awaiting your letter since you left home about two months ago. Your sister, Pushpa, was extremely keen to hear from you. Now she is beside herself with joy.

I wrote a letter to you on the 13th of the last month, informing you that your mother had been ailing with a sudden and severe attack of malaria. The fact that she has now completely recuperated, will surely and highly gladden you. So you have no need to worry about her. I myself had been out
of sorts for a few days. I am now my normal self.

Know it for certain that your mother remembers you very much. All of us get deeply worried if you delay in writing to us. So you must be quite regular in writing letters to us. In case, you remain very busy with your office work, you need not write a detailed letter. You can just drop us a line about your welfare as often as possible.

Now I turn to tell you something relating to my retirement from government service. I have retired from the army with effect from Monday, the 30th of this month. I shall receive a monthly pension of ten thousand rupees only. This scanty amount will not enable us to defray the household expenses. This is why your mother expects you to share the responsibility and to send us five thousand rupees every month. She rightly and fully feels that it will not be difficult for you to send such a small sum as you are getting a handsome salary. I totally agree with her on this matter. The amount for this month must be sent by telegraphic money order because the need has so arisen. I hope this finds you in the best of spirits.

With all my love and affection

Your affectionate father

Brijesh Thakur

2. A  Social Letter (On the Death of Friend’s Husband)

67/D, Shanti Enclave
Azadpur, Delhi

May 15, 20XX

My dear Anita
We are extremely shocked by the sad news about your husband’s untimely and sudden death this morning. You have really suffered a very cruel and terrible blow. Our hearts are filled with sympathy for you in this hour of your endless grief and pain. The tragic news has totally stunned us all. I do not find adequate words in language to express our shock and anguish at this unbearable loss to you in the prime of your youth. I know that words cannot fully console you in your deep sorrow and agony. Only time can heal the wound caused by his premature and unfortunate demise. May God grant his soul eternal peace in heaven!

Accept our deepest sympathy and condolences on the tragic occasion of the sad and sudden demise of your dear husband. Most solemnly, we pray to God that He may grant you strength and courage to bear this irreparable loss. He was a great source of strength, inspiration, happiness and hope to you. Now that he has gone to his heavenly abode, nothing will ever be the same to you again.

Please do not hesitate to tell me if I can do anything for you in this dark hour of your terrible distress. May I offer you some financial help that you might need on this tragic occasion? Sunita, you know well that all of us are totally helpless before fate. Because we are mortal human beings nobody will live forever. Everybody will die sooner or later. Well, dear sister, as I always consider you, my mother very sincerely wants you to come here to stay with us. You have our most profound sympathy in your bereavement. Time alone will heal up your wound. Fully depend on God and leave everything to Him. You have to brave the trials and tribulations of life. Never lose heart.

With all my love and deepest sympathy.

Yours sincerely

Kamla Desai

3. A Business Letter (Placing an Order)

Ashoka Hotels 
11/C, Moti Bagh 
New Delhi 

10th Jan. 201X

M/s Prime Electronics
Chandani Chowk

Reference: Telephonic conversation with your representative on 02.01.20XX regarding supply of electronic items.

Subject: Placing order for the purchase of Electronic items.

This is to inform you that we have decided to place an order with you for the electronic items, the list of which has been given below. Kindly make it convenient to send the items at the earliest to our newly constructed hotel at Aligarh.

Sl. Name of Item Model Quantity
1. LCD TVs    Samsung 32 FTA 25
2. Intercoms  Tata IC 251 02
3. Ceiling Fans Bajaj AJ-5 25
4. LED Bulbs Crompton (20 W) 100

I am sure proper packing of the electronic items will be well taken care of and any responsibility of damage caused during transportation shall rest with you. I hope future repairs and maintenance of the items will also be provided by you promptly and satisfactorily.

Kindly execute the order at the earliest. Payment shall be made after the acceptance of the consignment to satisfaction.

Yours faithfully

Manish Arora
Managing Director

4. An Official Letter (Job Application)

10/A, Defence Enclave
New Delhi

12th Jan. 20XX

The General Manager
K.D. Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd.
Phase II, Shakti Nagar

Reference: Your advertisement in The Career Times of dated 10.01.20XX for the post of Medical Representative.

Subject: Application for the post of a Medical Representative.

In response to your advertisement in The Career Times on 10.01.20XX, I wish to offer my candidature for the post of a Medical Representative in your company and append below my resume for considering my suitability for the post.

I hope that my educational qualifications and previous experience are most ideally suited to your requirement. If I am given an opportunity, I assure you that I will discharge my duties honestly and try my utmost best to satisfy my superiors with my work and conduct. I am available for an interview as and when you deem fit.

Yours faithfully

Manish Batra

Encls:  Bio-data


2 thoughts on “Techniques of Modern Letter Writing”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!