Write letters correctly: That’s how it works!
Writing a letter is easy at first glance. Address, salutation, text and completion phrase. Creativity is required at most in the text itself. But this is exactly the problem, because most of the letter contains not just a mere message. Accordingly, it may be necessary to formulate it very carefully.
What types of letters are there?
At school at the latest in class, young people learn what to look for in a letter. There are rules for address, sender, salutation, text and final formula. This also applies to the choice of words depending on the addressee and content.
Most letters are divided into:
- Personal letters
Formally, all letters can be structured identically. Only with personal letters this is not necessary.
This is how the letter is set up
These items belong in every letter, with the exception of private mail with trusted persons:
- place and date
- Subject line
It does not matter if it is a letter by mail or by post. Not insignificant is also the envelope. The address belongs to the bottom right corner of the envelope. The sender may stand on the back or on the top left of the envelope. For letters with a viewing window, the sender can also be visible just above the address through the window. But it is important that the letter fits the envelope. More than twice writing should not have to be folded.
The letterhead, place and date
A letterhead contains the address of the recipient and that of the sender. This includes as possible the mail address. The phone number is not always mandatory. The recipient should be named personally if the name is known. If it is an official letter, preceded by an exchange of letters, the file number and the reference to the date of the last letter must be included in the address. In this case, it is also advisable to note the service if this information is available. Where possible, place and date should appear in an additional line, under the address.
The subject line
In the subject line belongs the reason of the letter. The subject line should be kept as short as possible. It is not necessary to explicitly mention that this is the subject line. The subject line is particularly important for reminders or terminations, but also when writing to an authority. For official letters, a personal signature is always required. A mail is then not enough. In the case of important letters, especially if deadlines are met, it is therefore advisable to clarify in advance how and within which deadline the letter must be received. It is also advisable to ask for a receipt.
This is to be considered in the salutation?
If the name of the addressee is known, it should also be advertised. The neutral salutation for unknown addressees reads: “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen”. Anyone who knows for sure that the letter is read only by ladies or gentlemen, should take into account in the salutation. If the letter relates to a job advertisement or an already existing contact, the previously selected form of address must be retained. Just job advertisements are a bit looser today. Even the “you” is no longer unusual. In this case the letter writer may take over the “you” or, as a precaution, move on to the “you”. “Dear ..” is then too formal. It is recommended either “Dear team of …”, “With a friendly hello to the employees of ….”. The salutation ends with a comma if possible. The exclamation mark is also allowed.
The text of the letter
For readability, the text should preferably be divided into sections. Depending on the length, every 5-10 lines is followed by a blank line. The text is divided into introduction, main text and conclusion. Only after the conclusion, which can end with an appeal or a summary, follows the salutation.
This is to be considered in the salutation
The salutation is under each letter. Even if it’s a letter about a nuisance. The choice of words depends on the quality of the contact. The most distanced form is there “Respectfully”. Common and polite is “Sincerely”. “Greetings” and “Best regards” are friendly and should also signal the friendliness. “Greetings” is suitable for very familiar people.
Handwritten or with the computer?
Personal letters written by hand are especially friendly. It takes longer to write one and the author has to concentrate more. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the author makes an effort to write properly legible. For business letters, the handwritten variant is not common.
The font size
Naturally, handwritten letters are harder to read than letters or e-mails written with a PC. The font size should be adapted to the capabilities of the recipient. If the recipient is already a bit older, the font should be slightly larger. Although it is possible on the PC to increase the font size even at the receiver again, but it requires additional and avoidable work.
How long may or should a letter be?
A letter should be precise. The author should be careful not to get out of hand and not lose sight of the common thread. If recipients and senders are not absolutely in agreement that long letters are expressly desired, the author of a letter should be brief. This is especially important for letters with important information. Especially if the recipient does not have a lot of time, it is not fair to write a long letter, in the course of which there is an important message somewhere. To be brief is not always easy. If you do not write frequently, you need a bit of practice. It is also helpful not to send the letter immediately, but to read it aloud the next day and see if it is misleading, cumbersome or has other weaknesses.