An official letter is any written correspondence whose purpose is to communicate an official concern. Official letters are also known as formal letters or business letters. There are several types of formal letters, and each one centers around a specific theme. The most commonly known official letters include application letters, cover letters, letters of recommendation, letters of resignation, confirmation Letters, acknowledgement letters, inquiry letters, adjustment letters, follow-up letters and complaint letters. Despite their different target audiences, all these letters share a hint of similarity when it comes to formatting, diction and writing style. Are you looking to get shortlisted for an interview but unsure on how to write an official letter? The following article will explore tips for writing a formal letter as well as the proper layout to use so that your message is conveyed in the right manner.
- 1 The layout of Writing an Official Letter
- 2 How to write an Official Letter (Administrative Management Style)
Guidelines to Writing an Official Letter
Before we embark on the format of a formal letter, let’s first examine essential tips that will help you in your formal letter writing.
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- When writing an official letter, one must be concise and straight to the point without losing the intended message.
- You must always use a professional tone throughout the letter, and informal language such as contractions are not admissible in formal correspondence.
- When using an official letter template, remember to tailor it to suit your needs instead of copying everything and adding simple name or address edits.
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The layout of Writing an Official Letter
There are two primary official letter formats;
- The traditional block style
- The Administrative Management Style (AMS)
Of the two styles used to write letters, the Block layout is the most frequently used format for business letters. In this style of writing, all the text is aligned to the left and single-spaced. The only time one is allowed to use double spacing in the block formal letter format is between paragraphs as it brings the transition without the to indent your text. Below is the sample template of the block letter format.
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The block format has salutation and closing and is best suited for letters to companies you are applying to or to an individual you have met before.
Administrative Management Style (AMS), on the other hand, is more concise. This makes it better suited for internal memos and instances when you have to be very direct. A modified version of the Block format is the Semi-Block official letter where all text is left aligned except the sender’s information at the top, and then the paragraphs are indented while the correspondent’s information remains indented at the same position.
How to write an Official Letter (Administrative Management Style)
1. The Sender address
A proper official letter must begin with the sender’s address that must place at the top right-hand corner of the document. In the sender address, include your full names and postal details. Currently, mobile numbers and email addresses are proving to be more valuable than postal addresses so remember to include them in your author’s address.
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Here is a sample of how a sender’s address needs to appear;
P.O Box 12345-00200
2. Date of the letter
Place the date one line below the author’s address. The date gives a reference point that future correspondence can refer to to either bring some sense of continuity or avoid confusion if you wrote more than one letter. Furthermore, if you are planning on saving a copy of the correspondence either for future generations or for legal reasons then having the date is crucial. When writing the date, remember to write the month as a word in full and to put a comma in between the month and the year. For instance: 31st July, 2018.
3. Recipient’s Address
After the date, draft the receiver’s address on the left-hand side of the letter. Remember to include the title of the recipient that is Mr., Miss, Mrs., Dr., Etc., before their name and followed with their job position on the next line. Afterward, include their postal address as well as the city and country. Always aim to research the receiver of your official letter so that you can know the title to use as well as their names. In case the recipient remains unknown to you. Put the title of the recipient only.
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4. Salutation/ Greeting
This phrase is used as a salutation when the person writing the official letter does not know the receiver. Please note that it is always recommended that you research the recipient of the letter beforehand.
This form of salutation is incorporated when the sender knows the recipient of the official letter. Always use the title and the surname only. In case the recipient is a lady, and you do not know her preferred title then use Ms. which is appropriate for both single and married women.
5. Subject line
The subject line at a glance tells the recipient what the letter addresses. For example, if it’s an application letter, then you will need to indicate the position being applied for as well as the unique job reference number in the advertisement if it was present.
6. The body of the Letter
The body is the central part of the letter, and it should convey in only three paragraphs or less. If you have more than three paragraphs when writing a formal letter, then you are not as concise as earlier pointed out in this article. Use a friendly opening then state the intention of writing the letter within the first paragraph. In the second paragraph, provide concrete examples that will accentuate your points. Later in the final paragraph of the body, give a summary of why you wrote the letter then advise on how to proceed further. Here is a template of the AMS formal letter format.
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7. Closing the Letter
When the recipient of the letter is unknown, use this as the ending, and then leave a space for a hand-written signature followed by your full names and title in brackets.
If you know the name of the recipient, then close the letter this way.
8. Proofread the Letter
The final step that most people forget is to double check spelling and grammatical errors; this is an important step that should not skip as misspelled words and grammar errors are inexcusable in business letters.
Below is a sample of an official letter in the block format
P.O Box 12345-00200
31st July 2018.
The Human Resources Manager
P.O. Box 67890-00100
RE: APPLICATION FOR THE ACCOUNTANT POSITION
I am writing to apply for the post of an Accountant following your online advertisement. I am a Bachelor of Commerce, Finance Option degree holder with experience in financial management sector. I am also a CPA (K).
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I am currently working at XYZ Company where I am in charge of managing the accounting books. Previously, I was the Accounts Clerk at JKL Tax Consultants where my responsibilities included accurately updating the cash book, preparing of the bank and general ledger reconciliations, maintaining petty cash, as well as filling all finance related documents. My experience in financial management has helped me develop ways of improving efficiency and reducing expenses. Furthermore, I can be a great team leader given my significant skills in training as well as in mentoring junior staff members.
I look forward to adding a significant role in the financial decision-making in your firm. Attached is my resume for easy reference. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.
June Mwangi (Ms.)
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To conclude, you can opt to use the example above as an official letter template but remember to edit it to make it yours. Moreover, there are more formal letter examples online that can help you figure out how to write an official letter.
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