Рow to write an informal letter

Step-by-step informal letter writing guide with sample examples
  Reading time 6

In the digital age, the art of letter writing may seem like a relic of the past, but it remains an invaluable skill. Whether you are drafting a heartfelt note to a loved one or composing a professional request, the essence of effective communication through letters endures. This article delves into the nuances of both formal and informal letters, providing you with guidelines and tips to excel in each format. Understanding when and how to use each style will ensure your message is conveyed with clarity, respect, and sincerity.

Few forms of communication are as impactful as a well-written letter. Informal letters, exchanged between friends and family, often carry the warmth and intimacy of a personal conversation. These notes allow you to express your thoughts and feelings without the constraints of formal language, to someone you have a close relationship with. In contrast, formal letters require a more structured approach, adhering to conventions and a respectful tone, often used when addressing individuals you don’t have a personal relationship with, such as professionals or institutions. Each form has its place, and mastering both can be an asset in your personal and professional life.

 Informal letter format explained with dos and don'ts

Informal Letters

  1. Greeting: A personalized salutation tailored to the recipient.
  2. Introduction: Explain why you’re writing the letter.
  3. Body: Expand on your reason for writing, sharing news, asking about the recipient’s well-being, etc.
  4. Closing: Conclude with well-wishes or a hint towards future correspondence.
  5. Signature: End with a casual sign-off followed by your name.

Formal Letters

  1. Sender’s Address: Positioned at the top of the letter.
  2. Date: The date when the letter was written.
  3. Recipient’s Address: The address of the individual or company being addressed.
  4. Salutation: A respectful greeting, such as “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. [Last Name]”.
  5. Body: Begin with a clear purpose statement, followed by supporting details, and a polite request or conclusion.
  6. Closing: A formal sign-off, such as “Sincerely,” “Regards,” or “Yours faithfully,” followed by your full name (and title if appropriate).
AspectFormal LetterInformal Letter
ToneProfessional, respectfulCasual, personal
LanguagePrecise, no contractions, technical terms if neededConversational, use of slang acceptable
Structure and LayoutStrict format, aligned textLooser structure, more flexible
PurposeRequests, complaints, professional correspondencePersonal communication, casual updates
Salutation and ClosingSpecific titles, formal sign-offFirst names, relaxed sign-off
Illustration showing the structure of an informal letter

Enhancing Your Informal Letters

  • Pay attention to the recipient’s preferences and interests. Personalize your words to resonate with them.
  • Use anecdotes and storytelling to create an engaging narrative.
  • Don’t shy away from expressing emotion, which can strengthen the connection with your recipient.
  • Include questions that show genuine interest in the recipient’s life, which can also encourage a response.
  • Think about the physical presentation of your letter — a handwritten note can add a special touch.

Refining Your Formal Letters

  • Thoroughly proofread your letter to ensure there are no errors. A formal letter with typos can damage your credibility.
  • Use a passive voice to achieve a more formal tone when necessary, although active voice is typically preferred for clarity.
  • Be clear and succinct — avoid unnecessary jargon or overly complex sentences that could cloud your main points.
  • Ensure factual accuracy, particularly with names, titles, dates, and references.
  • Keep abreast of standard formats for addressing and signing off on formal letters as these can change with times and trends.

Embracing Technology in Letter Writing

  1. Digital Tools: Use word processors for drafting and spellcheck features to avoid errors.
  2. Email Etiquette: When sending informal emails, maintain a conversational tone but don’t forget the importance of a clear subject line and the use of proper email formatting.
 Writing tips for informal letters to friends and family


Remember, the medium of the letter—whether a quaint stationary or a modern email—doesn’t detract from the essence and power of the words you write. Whether typing or handwriting, drafting formal documents or penning informal notes, your attention to detail and your understanding of the recipient’s expectations will determine the success of your communication.


When is it inappropriate to send an informal letter or email?

It is inappropriate to send an informal letter or email when addressing someone in a position of authority, when the situation calls for an official or professional tone, or when you are not personally acquainted with the recipient.

Can I use emoticons or emojis in informal letters?

Yes, you can use emoticons or emojis in informal letters, especially if you know the recipient well and are aware of how they will perceive them. However, they should be used sparingly and appropriately according to the context and tone of your message.

How long should a formal letter be?

A formal letter should be as concise as possible while still including all necessary information. Typically, a one-page letter is sufficient, unless the complexity of the subject requires more detail.

Is it necessary to include a return address on an informal letter?

While it is not strictly necessary, including a return address is helpful for the recipient in case they wish to reply to you by mail. It is also a matter of courtesy and ensures they have your current details.

How do I address a formal letter to an unknown recipient?

If the recipient’s name is unknown, the use of “Dear Sir/Madam,” or “To whom it may concern,” is customary. It’s always best to try and find out the name of the person you are writing to, however, to make your letter more personal and impactful.