For many of us, the primary methods of communication are now texting, messaging on social media and some e-mail. As such, some people have all but forgotten how to actually communicate professionally through a formal letter. Texting and messaging might be fine for reaching out to family, friends and close co-workers – but if you ever need to get a point across to a current or prospective boss or a community leader it helps to be able to string the proper words together coherently in a properly formatted letter.
At the top left of your letter you need to include your name and contact information. It should look like this:
123 Waverly Street
New York, NY 00000
Follow that with a double line break and the date (month typed out) and then another double line break. If you’ve got the contact information of the person you are writing to, this is the time to insert it. Type it out in the same format that you used for your own name and address followed by a double line break.
When it comes to the greeting of the letter you want it to be formal and professional. If you’ve got the person’s name you can begin with “Hello Mr. or Mrs…” If you don’t have a name, stick to “To Whom it May Concern” and follow your salutation with a colon and a two line break.
When it is time for the meat of the letter you don’t want to take up too much time with unnecessary information. Whether the purpose of your letter is to inquire about a job or promotion or to request a change in community or company policy – there is a concrete reason that you are writing this letter, get to that reason relatively quickly. Consider the information that the recipient needs to have in order to take the next step in the chain of communication and impart it as quickly and professionally as possible. Steer clear of slang, symbols, emoticons and any other frivolities that should only appear in more personal communications.
Finish up your letter with a proper closing like “Sincerely” or “Regards,” then leave a four line break before typing your full name. Lastly – proofread, proofread, proofread. Your word processing program likely has a spelling and grammar check – use them and read your letter over a few times to ensure it is mistake free and that it has a nice flow.
Finally – print, sign and send.