You may think that letters do not have the same weight as they did a few years ago, however, despite the emergence of technology, letters are still the most successful means of communication on many occasions. In fact, when the objective is to make requests or formal presentations, it is essential to know what the parts of a letter are and how to develop each of them.
Whether you want to write a letter in traditional format (that is, on paper) or if you want to write a letter in digital format, in the following oneHOWTO article we share with you everything you should know about it. We explain what types of cards there are and what are the parts of a letter so that you can develop your message correctly. Take note!
Types of letters
Cards can be divided into different types and styles, however, they almost always differ between formal letters and informal letters:
Formal letters are all those that are part of the business, labor or professional, institutional, political, academic or administrative sphere, among others. The sender’s voice is cordial and formal and it is usually carried out when you want to make a request, a thank you, a presentation, a recommendation, a claim, a resignation or, simply, to disclose specific information of interest. These types of letters allow communication between people who, generally, do not know each other personally, so you have to keep your distance and take great care in writing, which should be respectful, polite and cordial.
In cases where the distance between the receiver and the sender is even greater, we speak of very formal letters, something common when we address people in high positions (the director of an institution or the president of the government). Within the formal letters we find the letters of orders, letters of claims, letters of resignation, dismissal, etc.
Informal or colloquial letters
Informal letters are those that they are directed to trusted people, family, friends, partners, etc. The language used in these types of letters is much warmer, friendly and conversational, since the context is intimate. In informal or colloquial letters, the sender and the recipient maintain closer ties, so the concept of the letter, the language and its content is much more open and varied.
Among the informal letters we find birthday letters, mourning letters, thanks, congratulations, etc.
Although we have differentiated the types of letters into formal and informal, some others should also be highlighted. Informational letters, also known as circularThey are notices that are sent in the same format to different people. This type of letter is common both at an academic level and at an institutional or business level, as it is an effective propaganda tool to publicize modifications, changes or new products. The information letters reveal important information for the recipients to know.
It is also important to mention business letters, a medium related to any commercial or business operation, whether it is sales, advertising or other internal movements of a company (job application, acknowledgment of receipt, request for credit or collection, etc.) The language of this type of letter is always formal and cordial.
Parts of an informal letter
The informal letter is one that is addressed to a known person and with whom you have a close relationship. The basic difference between the informal letter and the formal letter is that the former does not require courtesy formulas or a logical structure of the content, which is the case in formal letters. Informal documents denote the closeness and warmth between sender and receiver, although, of course, the content of the letter must be well written and revised.
Although informal letters do not follow rules as such, it is important to add certain fundamental parts:
Indicating the date on which the letter is written helps the recipient to locate himself, especially if the letter is retrieved years later and re-read.
Initial greeting formula
Through the initial greeting, the degree of closeness between sender and recipient will be known. In formal letters, you can start with an affectionate greeting, such as “Dear Pablo,” or you can address the recipient in the same way that you would in a telephone or physical conversation, such as “Hello Pablo!” or a “How are you, Maria?” You can also use a nickname or other affectionate word that defines you.
Body of the letter
After the initial greeting, the body of the letter should be developed, that is, the message itself, which may be as long as the writer decides. Remember to use a close and warm but also cordial language. In informal letters it is not necessary to follow an established order and it is recommended to use a more improvised method, just like it would happen in a real conversation.
With the farewell the letter is closed, whatever type it may be, and through it good wishes are sent to the recipient. Some of the most used formulas in informal letters are: “A kiss”, “A hug”, “With affection”, “See you soon” or “A greeting”, among others.
In addition to these basic parts, other elements may appear after the farewell, such as the sender’s signature or even a postscript that collects some relevant information that was forgotten during the writing of the main text.
Parts of a formal letter
Formal letters, unlike informal ones, use a concrete and differentiated structure that must be applied to maintain a logical order in the writing of the text, which will facilitate the reading of the receiver. In addition, it is recommended to make a preliminary approach or draft that helps you capture the information and data that you want to present in a clear order. Remember that the formal letter needs a higher quality in writing, as well as following appropriate rules of correctness and spelling and based on order, simplicity, clarity and, above all, courtesy.
The letterhead is a differential part of the formal letter of a private nature. It is used to include the sender’s details first, so that the recipient knows in advance who is writing. These data must be located in the top left and must include, at a minimum, the name of the company or person, the address, the telephone number and the email.
On many occasions, especially in business, it is important to add the recipient’s details so that the letter reaches the correct person. For this, it is recommended to follow the French style, in which the name of the person to whom the letter is addressed, their position and even the company will be put, followed by the address to which the letter is addressed.
It should be located at the top of the letter, on the right side, just below the recipient. The usual formula is to start with the name of the city or town from which the letter is written, followed by the day, the month and the year.
To apply courtesy, respect and proper treatment, it is important that the heading appears in the letter, that is, the part with which the text will begin. The most common are to use “Dear or Dear”, “Distinguished Sir …” or “Your Excellency”, which can be abbreviated “Your Excellency”. Any range of treatment can include different courtesy protocol formulas, but the main rule is to be respectful, polite and friendly when addressing the recipient.
Through the introduction you will put the recipient in context and will predispose him to receive the information in a pleasant and gentle way, especially if it is negative news. On the other hand, the introduction will help you to establish a bond with the person to whom you are writing for the first time. For this you can use formulas such as “I don’t have the pleasure of meeting you in person, but I’m writing to…”. If there is already a certain cordiality between sender and receiver, the introduction can be excluded and go directly to the body of the text.
In this central part of the text should appear the central subject of the letter, be it a request, an information, a thank you, etc. The body part is the largest part of the letter and it is where all the relevant data should appear. It is recommended to end the text with a overall letter summary, before closing or farewell.
Farewell or closing
It is the formula in which the issuer, using greater courtesy, expresses good wishes to the reader in a cordial manner. Generally, the closing is written in the third person, using expressions such as “Yours sincerely”, “You say goodbye”, “A cordial greeting” or simply “Sincerely”. As always, in this type of section it is advisable brevity in expression.
In the final part of the letter we must include both the full name and the signature or signature of the issuer. In addition, if the letter is of a work, professional, academic, institutional or administrative scope, the position of the person who issues the letter may also be included. The signature will be preceded by …