Difference Between Formal Letter and Informal Letter
The main difference between formal letter and informal letter is the purpose of the letter. While formal letters are used in official or business communications, informal letters are used when writing to anyone in a non-professional context.
A letter is a written message between two or more parties.
WHAT IS A FORMAL LETTER?
A formal letter is a letter written in formal language with a specific structure and layout. Formal letters also referred to as business letters, are generally used to communicate with people you do not have personal relationship with. Formal letters are used in official or business communications.
WHY WE WRITE FORMAL LETTERS
We write formal letters for different reasons. Some reasons for formal letters are:
- To find out information
- To make a complaint
- To give information
- To make a request
- To send an apology
- To apply for a job
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN WRITING A FORMAL LETTER
- The receiver
- Purpose of the letter
- Content of the letter
- Expected result of the letter
When writing formal letters, you must be very mindful of the format and font used. It is advisable to make sure the entire letter is justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs.
FORMAT OF FORMAL LETTERS
- Your address – This is usually right justified at the top of the page. You would not usually include your telephone number or email address here
- Receiver’s position and contact details – The role and address of the person you are writing to goes directly below your address, on the left. You should always address the letter to a particular person if at all possible.
- Date – The position of the date is more flexible. It can go on the left (second line below your address), or the right (second line below the receiver’s address).
- Salutation – The salutation at the beginning of the letter depends on whether or not you have the name of the person.
- If you do, write Dear Mr Adebayo, Dear Mrs Ebere, Dear Miss Sholafunmi, or, if you do not know the marital status of a woman, simply write Dear Ms Farida. If the person has a specific title, use this: Dear Dr Ajani.
- If you don’t know the name of the person, you should write Dear Sir/Madam. You should put a comma (,) after the salutation.
- Subject of the Letter – This should be in bold or underlined. The purpose is to give the reader an idea of what the letter is about before reading it, and to be able to pass it on to a more appropriate person if necessary. If you are replying to a letter which had a reference (or ref.) on it, you should repeat this on your letter. Write ‘Your ref.:—-‘
- Body of the letter. The content of your letter should be as short as possible, divided into short, clear paragraphs. It is common to end your letter with a phrase such as I look forward to hearing from you. I would be grateful if my request is granted. Thank you in anticipation of a favourable response
- End of the letter – To end the letter, you should write Yours sincerely if you have started the
letter with the name of the person, or Yours faithfully if you have started with something like Dear Sir/Madam.
- Signature and Name – Your signature should come directly below Yours faithfully/Yours sincerely. Your full name should come under your signature, and then your position (Head Boy) is there is any. Sign you name directly below this and then print it below the signature.
WHAT IS AN INFORMAL LETTER?
An informal letter, unlike a former, is a type of letter you would write to your friends, relatives, and sometimes, acquaintances. In a broad sense, informal letters can be used when writing to anyone in a non-professional context.
FORMAT OF AN INFORMAL LETTER
Below are the elements of an informal letter
- Your address
- Sign off
Address – Your personal address should be located at the top right corner of the page.
Date – The date is usually located directly below your address (remember to leave a line). The month, day and year are the normal things to mention. Sometimes even only the month and day will be sufficient.
Salutation – Start with Dear, Hi, Hello followed by the first name of the person to whom you are writing. It is advisable to put a comma (,) after the person’s name.
Opening – The tone of an informal letter is fairly straightforward, and it is usually not as important as would be with a formal letter. However, there are still a few things that you should know about in terms of addressing someone properly in an informal latter.
Your opening should be casual, and not as stiff as they would be in formal letters.
- How are you?
- How have you been?
- How is life treating you?
- How are the kids?
- I hope you are doing well
Body – The contents of your letter should be written in a personal and friendly tone. However, it’s important to adjust your use of language to the person you are writing to. A good way of assessing how you should write is to think about how you would interact with the receiver of the letter.
Ending – Closing sentences examples:
- I am looking forward to seeing you.
- I can’t wait to see you soon.
- I can’t wait to hear from you.
- I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Sign off – In terms of signing off, the choice is yours and you have a lot of freedom here. Below are some examples: After the sign off, put a comma, and then write your name directly below anyone you choose.
- Kind regards
- Best regards
- Lots of love
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FORMAL LETTER AND INFORMAL LETTER
Purpose of the letter – While formal letters are used in official or business communications, informal letters are used when writing to anyone in a non-professional context.
Structure of the letter – A formal letter follows a strict format while an informal letter does not follow a strict format
Language – A formal letter is written in formal, professional language while an informal letter is written in informal language; slang and colloquial terms can be used depending on the familiarity between the sender and recipient.
Formality level – In a formal letter, we always use titles and surname of the recipient. But, in an informal letter, we always use the first name of the recipient as we are familiar with the recipient.
Address – Formal letters have two addresses. The sender’s address and the recipient’s address. Informal letters require only the writer’s address
Heading/Title – Formal letters usually have heading. Informal letters don’t require heading