Let us take you back to the days when we wrote letters to each other, asking about how our friends and relatives were doing. Those were the times before each of us had a Smartphone to flaunt, and DMs cluttering up our inboxes. Those were the days when the word ‘inboxes’ vaguely had to something with boxes to the letter-writing populace. Simpler times, indeed.
Nowadays, even official communication is taken care of through emails. You are more likely to find a job offer waiting in your email inbox than a letter delivered to your address. However, sometimes we still find us writing a letter or two. And this blog tells you all about the personal letter format. Following the personal letter format carefully will help you write engaging personal letters that not only convey your message but also stay with the recipient for the times to come.
Some etiquette experts lament the lost art of letter-writing and suggest the use of printed stationery to enhance the experience of writing a letter instead of simply sending an email to friends. Stationery for personal letters can often reflect your personal style through the use of a creative font, design or colored paper. In Lisa Mirza Grotts' article in The Huffington Post, she writes: "The look and feel of a handwritten note is incomparable and deeply personal. Compared to e-mail, e-vites, and everything else electronic, paper stands the test of time."
Person-to-person letters are letters that one individual sends to another individual that deal with personal matters, as opposed to business matters."
The following links go to real-life templates of the most commonly requested person-to-person letters:
Character reference letter - personal friend/colleague reference.
Church letter - to parents re: child's birthday.
Condolence letter - to an acquaintance or colleague.
Friendly letter - to a colleague and sports buddy.
Goodbye letter - farewell letter to co-workers.
Love letter - to someone you've known for a while.
Letter of apology - to a neighbor or acquaintance.
Letter of complaint - water damage complaint to neighbor.
Letter of congratulations - to a friend or colleague.
Letter of personal reference - recommending a personal friend.
Letter of resignation - resign from a committee.
Letter of sympathy - to family of a friend and/or colleague.
Letter of thanks - to friends or acquaintances.
Letter of welcome - to a new community member.
Romantic love letter - after a special evening.
Teacher letter to parents - beginning of year guidelines.
Thank you letter - personal thanks to a family member.
The format of a personal letter contains the following elements.
For all of those who have queries regarding, “How to format a personal letter?” here lies the answer. A personal letter includes all of the elements discussed above, in addition to a few formatting specifications.
Full name and address of the sender – Placed on the top right corner of the page, this section must contain the full name and address of communication of the sender. This is usually followed by the date the letter is addressed.
Full name and address of the recipient – This flushes left, right after the date. This section should include the full name and address of the recipient.
Salutation (usually including an endearment) – The most accepted and widely used term of endearment for a personal letter is ‘dear.’ Followed by the first name of the recipient, this usually suffices to address the recipient warmly enough.
A subject line (which can sometimes be optional) – A subject line is mandatory for a personal business letter, but not quite the custom to include in letters of a more personal nature.
An introductory paragraph – With the opening paragraph begins the main content of the letter. This section includes the premise of the letter. It gradually draws the recipient’s attention to the matter in hand.
Body paragraphs – Body paragraphs do not have any fixed number of length in case of personal letters. However, brevity is still considered a virtue when it comes to the art of writing letters like a pro.
A concluding paragraph – This section should successfully summarise the entire contents of the letter. The personal letter must have a call to action in its concluding sentence, that prompts a reply from the recipient.
A Signing-off note – This section contains a sign-off note thanking the recipient for their time and attention.
First name (or full name) of the sender – The letter ends with the first or full name of the sender. You can search the Internet for personal letter layouts with examples to get cracking with your letter-writing tasks.
The basic structure and formatting specifications of a personal business letter are the same as a personal letter, with three differences, as listed below.
Subject line – Personal business letter must contain a concise yet well-defined subject line, preferably emboldened and underlined (to indicate urgent business matters).
Body paragraphs – Body paragraphs for personal business letters should be short and to-the-point. Ideally, a personal business letter should not take up more than one page.
Signing-off note and signature – The sign-off note in a personal business letter should suit the formal tone. This section must also include the full name and alternative contact information (like email IDs and business contact numbers) of the sender.
Perhaps the trickiest among all, personal recommendation letters are also known as personal reference letters. They follow the personal business letter format to the T. You may need to write a personal recommendation letter for a friend or colleague for their new job, college admissions, or a new house. Here is an example of a personal recommendation letter to make things simpler for you.
That’s all you need to know about personal letter layouts. The next time you are stuck with the personal letter writing format, consult this blog. Writing letters is gradually becoming a dying art. If you decide to stick with it for sentimental purposes, you just might be able to hold on to the simpler times before the advent of faster communication technology. Here’s wishing you all the luck with writing a personal letter. Happy writing!