Letter-Writing

Letter-Writing is an essential channel of communication between people who are geographically distant from one another. In earlier times, when the telephone and email were not available, the only means of communication between people was through letters. It is a skill that has to be developed.

In general, there are two types of letters: formal, that are written to convey official business and information and informal, which are personal letters to communicate with friends and family.

Formal Letters 

 

Let us now examine some of the steps in writing formal letters.

1. (i) Introducing oneself if it is the first time you are writing

      (ii) Referring to an earlier letter if you are responding to it.

2. Stating the purpose of the letter

3. (i) Stating action/information required from the addressee

   (ii) Explaining action taken/supplying information

4. (i) Urging action to be taken

   (ii) Offering assistance in future

This is the basic structure of a letter. It has to be modified according to the purpose for which it is written, and the person to whom it is addressed.

When you write a letter, you should keep in mind the following points.

1. Purpose

2. Person to whom it is addressed

3. The tone you should adopt

4. Completeness of the message

5. Action required

6. Conciseness of expression

 

 A letter has a typical format:

1. Name and address of the sender – 

2. Name and address of the addressee

3. Date

4. Mode of address or salutation 

  (i) Dear Sir/Madam (when you are writing to a total stranger whom you do not know at all).

  (ii) Dear Mr/Ms/Dr/Professor + Surname as in Dear Dr Sinha, (when it is a formal relationship with the addressee and the writer does not know him or her personally).

 (iii) Dear Sujata (when the writer knows the addressee personally, and the two share a semi-formal relationship).

5. Reference to previous correspondence, if any. Most official letters carry a subject line just above the salutation. This is for quick reference to the subject.

6. Content of letter – The content of the letter begins on the next line and is arranged in two or three paragraphs.

7. Complimentary close and signature – Letters usually end politely with the following phrases: Thank you, With regards, With best wishes, Hope to see you soon, Hope to receive an early reply etc. The complimentary close is followed by ‘Yours sincerely/ Yours truly’, and the writer’s signature in the next line.

GUIDELINES

Writing Good Business/Official Letters


1. Be brief, clear, concise and to the point.
2. Use a proper layout/format for these formal letters. The layout may be in block format or indented format (as in informal letters).
3. Use of punctuation marks is adopted in the indented form but it is dispensed with in the block format.
4. Do not mix the two formats. It would be better for you to practise and follow the block format which is in vogue after introduction of computers.
5. Convey facts briefly but impressively. Indicate the theme in the initial para of the body of the letter. Develop your points in the middle paragraph and conclude/give suggestions in the final part of the body of the letter.
6. Use simple and direct language. Avoid the use of long and high sounding words and ambiguous constructions.
7. Be courteous. Even while lodging a complaint or criticising, you should be polite and charming.
8. Remember the following points about block format:

  1. There is no indentation.

  2. Each block begins with the margin on left hand side.

  3. Extra space should be left between different sections and paragraphs.

  4. Omit punctuation marks in address, date or salutation. In case you put a comma in the address, use it throughout. Do not mix the two systems.

9 . Golden Rule: Always use
(a) suitable format
(b) well-organised content
(c) appropriate language

Study the formats given below, observe their use in solved examples and adopt them in the exercises given for practice:

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND LETTERS TO SCHOOL/COLLEGE AUTHORITIES

(i) FORMAT

Sender’s Address……………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Pin …………………………………………………………………………………………………
Date……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Address of the addressee
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Pin …………………………………………………………………………………………………

Subject …………………………………………………………………………………………..

Sir,
Introductory Para
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Main body of the letter
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Concluding Para
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

(Complimentary close)
Yours faithfully
Signature
(Sender’s Name)
Designation (if needed)

APPLICATION FOR JOB

The application for a job may be written with or without a bio-data. In case it is written without a bio-data, the main body of the letter should contain the following information :

  1. Personal information, e.g. age, health, sex etc.

  2. Educational / professional qualifications

  3. Experience / suitability for the job.

The format is the same as that of an official letter.

WHAT IS C.V. / BIO-DATA?


The application for a job is sometimes accompanied by a Bio-data of the applicant. The Bio-data is also called resume or curriculum-vitae (C.V.). It contains full information about the candidate pertaining to the job requirement.
The letter with bio-data will have the bio-data as an enclosure. The relevant information will be included under the heading ‘Bio-Data’. The covering letter will be a formal official letter having the same kind of format, language and style. The following features must be mentioned in the bio-data:

 

BIO-DATA

1. Name in full …………………………………………………………………………………..
2. Father’s Name……………………………………………………………………………….
3. Date of Birth…………………………………………………………………………………..
4. Age…………………………………………………………………………………………………
5. Permanent Address
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Telephone Number (if any)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
6. Educational Qualifications

  1. Secondary  : School attended, course, examination passed, grades obtained.

  2. Tertiary : College, university, exam., division.

  3. Technical/Professional : Degree or Diploma obtained : institution / university

  4. Any other

7. Experience (Name of institution, position held, nature of duties, duration)

  1. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  2. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  3. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

8. Present Employment

  1. Organisation………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  2. Position………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  3. Salary drawn………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

9. References (Name, designation, official address)

  1. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  2. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

10. Testimonials from (Name, designation, official address)

  1. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  2. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  3. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

FORMAT

Marks may be deducted for not using proper layout. Layout should include date, receiver’s designation and address, salutation, subject, complimentary close and designation of writer.
However, no marks are awarded for format alone if there is no content or if the content is wrong.

CONTENT


It includes your creativity in presenting ideas which are relevant to the topic of the letter. The content of the letter must be well-organised to ensure clarity and effective communication. The content is divided into three main parts:

  1. Introductory part

  2. Main part

  3. Concluding remarks

    • The introductory paragraph introduces the theme.

    • The main part deals with the problem/issue. It is the real content of the letter.

    • The closing part of the body gives conclusions or offers suggestions.
      Some Tips:
      — Be brief and to the point
      — Mention specific issues only
      — Tone : polite but formal

  4. In letters to editors state the problem clearly. Try to present both sides of the picture. In case of a discursive topic or one requiring argumentative presentation, give the pros and cons of the situation. Always offer useful suggestions to overcome the problem.

EXPRESSION


(a) Fluency is your ability to present your ideas in a coherent and organised way. Before answering in the ‘fair’, you must prepare a rough draft and jot down your ideas. You may follow the process detailed below:

  • Think about the letter/topic.

  • Collect all the ideas and put them down roughly.

  • Organise the ideas by putting common ideas together.

  • Arrange them sequentially.

  • End on a positive note.

(b) Accuracy involves grammatical correctness as well as structuring of sentences. Your effort should not be to use complex, long and unwieldy sentences, but to present your content in simple, straightforward language.
 

Note the following points about the use of language:


(a) Business/Official Letters :

  1. simple and direct

  2. formal tone

  3. straightforward manner

(b) Letters to Editors :

  1. greater flexibility

  2. suitable to subject/content

  3. formal, direct and pointed

 

Example

Making Inquiry

You are Shakti Parmar, the Sports Secretary of your school. Write a letter to A B C Sports, Mehsana, a leading firm dealing in sports goods, requesting them to supply their trade catalogue. You may mention the items you intend to buy and ask for a discount on the catalogue prices.
 

Answer:
ABN School
Mehsana
10 March 20XX
M/S ABC Sports
F-4, Greater Kailash-II
Mehsana


 

Sub : Trade Catalogue for Sports Goods
 

Dear Sirs,
We have to buy sports material in bulk for various games and sports for our school for the new academic session beginning w.e.f. 1st April.
We are interested in cricket bats and balls, hockey sticks, balls, goalkeeper’s full kit, footballs, volleyballs, basket balls, table tennis balls and bats etc. We also need items for uniform namely, sports T-shirts, shorts and vests of different sizes.
Your firm has been mentioned to us as one of the best dealers in sports goods.
I shall be glad if you send me your catalogue together with quotations for large quantities. Please do mention the time required to effect delivery and the terms of payment.
I hope you will facilitate business by quoting the lowest possible rates. I am confident that you will patronise us by giving some discount also. Please mention the rate of discount on the catalogue prices.

 

Yours faithfully,
Shakti Parmar
Sports Secretary

Write a letter to the Manager, Sahara International. Mehsana, to find out the rates for conducting the wedding reception of your sister on their lawns, enquiring specifically about the catering cost per head, service and decoration charges and advance to be paid. You are Shashi/Sahil of Mehsana.
 

Answer:
23 Fort Road
Mehsana
15 November 20XX
The Manager
Sahara International
Mehsana
Sub : Enquiry regarding expenses for Wedding Reception
Dear Sir,
Kindly let me know whether your lawns would be available on the evening of 7th December to hold the wedding reception of my sister. In case space is available, please enlighten me regarding the following :

  1. catering cost per head (Menu no. 3)

  2. service charges

  3. decoration charges

  4. advance amount to be paid.

Please send me point-wise specific reply at the address given above.
Looking forward to an early reply.
Yours sincerely,
Shashi/Sahil

PLACING ORDERS


As librarian, Model Secondary School, Gandhi Nagar, write a letter to M/s Sohanlal & Bros., Booksellers, Ahmedabad, placing an order for books (Mention at least 4 titles of the books) to be supplied immediately.
 

Answer:
The Librarian
Model Secondary School
Gandhi Nagar
29 July 20XX
M/s Sohanlal & Brothers Booksellers
Ahmedabad
Sub: Order for Books
Dear Sir,
Kindly arrange to supply at your earliest convenience the following books for our school library at the discount rates approved for the year 20XX-20XX.

  1. Advance Learner’s Dictionary of Current English    5 copies
    Honey Bee — OUP

  2. Elementary Algebra — Dave & David    10 copies
    Macmillan

  3. Applied English Grammar — M.M. Sharma    10 copies

  4. Secondary Physics — S.C. Jain    5 copies

Before despatching the books please ensure that only the latest editions are being supplied and the books are not soiled or dirty. Also check that each  book has full  pages and there is neither duplication of pages nor insufficiency.
Payment will be released after approval by the library committee.
Yours faithfully,
S S Shrimali
Librarian

Letter of Complaint

Lalit Kumar Shanu of Baroda has purchased a Frost-free B.L.P. refrigerator of 265 litres from ‘Life Style’, Civil Lines, Baroda. After a month of purchase, the freezing section of the refrigerator has failed to function. Write a letter to the Sales Manager of the firm complaining about it and requesting for the piece to be replaced, since there is a two year warranty.
 

Answer:
26 Ahmedabad Road
Baroda
15 June 20XX
The Sales Manager
‘Life Style’
Civil Lines
Baroda
Sub : Replacement of 265 litres B.L.P. Refrigerator
Sir,
We purchased a frost-free B.L.P. Refrigerator of 265 litres from you about six months back, vide your Receipt No. C-1265 dated 10 January, 20XX. You provided us a warranty letter for two years against any technical fault.
Having used it for about a month, we now find that the freezing section of the refrigerator is not working properly. We are unable to get even a single eatable fresh when kept in it. The summer season is in full swing and we are feeling great inconvenience due to our defective refrigerator.
Under these circumstances, it is requested that the defective refrigerator may please be replaced at your earliest in order to stop further inconvenience to us. It will be appreciated if the new set is installed after proper testing.
Thanking you.
Yours faithfully,
Lalit Kumar Shanu

You are Akhar/Amina. Summer months are difficult time for the people, especially people in the big cities because of the acute shortage of water. Write a letter to the Municipal Commissioner to make arrangements to store rain water and utilise it. Also give suggestions to him to create awareness among the people to save water.


Answer:
A-74, Vasant Vihar
New Delhi
15 June 20XX
The Municipal Commissioner
Delhi Municipal Corporation
Sham Nath Marg
Delhi
Sub : Arrangements to Store Rain Water
Sir,
The residents of Vasant Vihar have faced an acute shortage of water during summer season. This year was exceptionally hot and a lot of water was needed for quenching thirst, bathing, cooking and other basic household needs like washing clothes, utensils etc. The shortage of water caused a lot of problems and turned people’s life to a virtual hell.
The rainy season is at hand. You are requested to make arrangements to store rain water and utilise it during the lean periods of water supply. Moreover, awareness should be created among the people, by distributing pamphlets, advertisements in
newspaper, T.V. etc. to save water. Practical demonstrations of ‘Rain Harvesting1 will prove an educative step. Posters on Water is Precious’ and ‘Water is Life’ may be displayed at important places.
I hope my suggestions will find favour with you.
Yours faithfully,
Akbar

Job Application

Unnati Public School, Surat, urgently requires a post-graduate teacher to teach political science for which they have placed an advertisement in The Indian Express. You are Sanjay/Sanjana Sharma from 21, Vasant Marg, Surat. Draft a letter including a CV, applying for the advertised post.(120 – 150 words)
 

Answer:
21, Vasant Marg
Surat

01 March, 20XX

The Principal
Unnati  Public School
Surat

Subject- Application for the post of a post-graduate teacher

Sir/Madam
In response to your advertisement in The Indian Express, dated February 25, 20XX for the post of a
political science teacher in your renowned school, I wish to offer my candidature.
I am enclosing a copy of my bio-data for your perusal and kind consideration.
I am available for the interview on any day of your convenience. If given a chance to serve you, I
assure you that I shall work with utmost sincerity and dedication up to your satisfaction.
Thank you

Yours faithfully
Sanjay/Sanjana Sharma


Encl.: Bio-data

BIO- DATA


NAME- Sanjay/Sanjana Sharma
FATHER’s NAME- Mithun Sharma
DATE OF BIRTH- 25 July, 1984
ADDRESS- 21, Vasant Marg, Surat
PHONE-98100XXXXX
E-MAIL- sanjsharma@gmail.com
MARITAL STATUS- single
AGE- 28 years
NATIONALITY- Indian
ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS-
i. B.A. in Political Science
ii. M.A. Political Science
iii. B. Ed
HOBBIES- Trekking and reading
STRENGTHS- Good communication skills, computer literate, proficient in English, Hindi and German
NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF REFERENCES-
i) Mr. Vijay Mathur, Principal
D.A.V. School, Gurudwara Rd., Ahmedabad
ii) Mr. Satish Arya
Head of Commerce Department
Gujarat University, Ahmedabad

 

Informal Letters 

These are the letters written to friends, relatives and any associate with whom we share a friendly and close relationship. These can be written according to one’s style and convenience. The general structure followed in any informal letter is writing the name of the sender and the name of the person addressed to, the body of the letter and then closing salutations. The greetings and salutations can be based on the kind of relationship you share.

 

You are Kamal / Krishna. Write a letter to your friend describing your boarding school in about 120-150 words.

Answer:

B-32, sector-11

Gandhi Nagar

April 15, 2020

Dear Mira

How have you been? I hope my letter finds you in best of health and spirits. It has been almost a month I transferred to the boarding school. I am very happy in my new school. The classes and dormitories are very spacious. There are well equipped science laboratories and a library with a great collection of books. The school has amazing sports facilities such as swimming pool, horse riding track and archery range.

I believe my life here will be interesting and enjoyable. Although I have made many new friends, I still miss you and the other friends. Please, pay my regards to your parents.

Yours sincerely

Kamal / Krishna

 

Write a letter to your friend Rajan inviting him to spend the summer vacation at your place in Ahmedabad. You are Soham / Sarala. Do not exceed 120-150 words.

 

Answer:

129, Navyug Apartments

Pitampura

Ahmedabad

March 01, 2010

Dear Rajan

It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. Where have you been? I hope this letter finds you in the best of your health.

As summers are approaching, I was thinking if we could spend the summer break together at my place in Mumbai. I will introduce you to all my friends and close relatives. I will give you a city tour as well. We will spend some quality time in the afternoons near the sea shore. To add cherry on the cake, the weather here is very pleasant during those days due to sea winds.

I am excited even at the thought of you and I spending the summer together after so long. I have to tell you a lot of things and expect the same from you. Give my regards to aunty and uncle!
Hope to see you soon.

Yours lovingly

Soham / Sarala

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