In certain circumstances we need to draft formal letters or emails: applying for a job, making a complaint or requesting a refund are typical examples in this respect. Here you can find five useful tips that will help you draft these letters or emails, a task that can be difficult if English is not our mother tongue.
- Always keep a formal style. Even if there is no equivalent to “usted” in English language, certain terms can be employed in order to keep formalities. In this respect, we refer to people as “Sir” or “Madam”; if we know their surname, we refer to them as “Mr. Smith” or “Ms. Smith” (Ms. is employed for single and married women alike). Do not use contractions (for instance “it’s”, “I’m”, “you’re”, etc.) and keep always a polite tone: do not hesitate to use terms like “please” or conditionals in tis respect (“I would be grateful if”/”If it is convenient”, etc.)
- Despite the formalities, your message should go straight to the point and be no longer than necessary. This means that you should prepare the main points of your message well in advance.
- After salutations (Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Sir or Madam if you do not know the sex of the person you are writing to) organize your letter in three main parts. The first paragraph should briefly state the purpose of your letter. A good opening in this respect is “I am writing to you concerning/with regard to”. The second or middle paragraph should contain the relevant information that supports the purpose of your letter. In the last paragraph you should explain the actions you expect to be taken.
- To conclude your letter, use expressions like “yours faithfully”, “yours sincerely” or “yours truly” before you sign. When you expect an answer, it is a good idea to include “looking forward to hearing from you”. It is also important to thank whoever you are writing to in advance
- With regard to traditional letters (this is not applicable to emails) you should also include your address in the top right part of the letter and the address of the person you are writing to in the top left. The date is included below the address, normally on the right, and the month should be written as a word (i.e. 27th March 2018, not 27/03/2018)
We hope you find this useful! 😉