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Letter Writings – Formal and Informal Letter

Letter Writings – Formal and Informal Letter

Pay attention here, if you are having difficulty in letter writings, we have spelt them out in the simpliest terms. Letter Writings – Formal and Informal Letter. Read:  “Can I Combine WAEC and NECO for Admission?”


Letter writing is form of essay writing. The various types of letter writing are: formal, semi-formal and informal letters. The format or outlines and the tone are the major features that differentiate formal and informal letters.


Informal letters are letters we write to those we have close relationship with like our mothers and fathers, friends in another school, our brothers and sisters, uncles and Aunts. Other words for these letters are friendly letters. The tone of this letter is soft and friendly. It carries one address. It does not have a caption.



Formal letters are letters we write to the people we do not have close relationship with. This form of letter writing is also called business letters. The tones of these letters are strict and official. Examples of formal letters are: letter we write to the Principal, Local Government Chairman, P.T.A. chairman; letters to the government officials and public servants like, the governor, commissioner, Minister, Military Personnel; Office letters, etc.



Semi-formal letters, just like the name, have some features of formal letters. These types of letter writing cannot qualified to be called formal letters neither can they be called informal letters. They combine the features of formal and informal letters. An example of a semi-formal letter may have two addresses without a caption and written with friendly tone. Read also: Can I Use WAEC GCE to Study Abroad?


Letter Writings – Formal and Informal Letter


  • Two addresses (the writer’s address and the recipient’s address):

The writer’s address is always at the top right hand while the receiver’s address at the left side. These addresses are begun in a straight line at each side. Comas are used to separate address lines followed by a full stop at the end of the address usually the State of the writer or the Country if the letter is for a person who is in another country.


Majority of students loose marks in their letter because of minor mistakes in writing the addresses of the letter. These mistakes include; blunders, punctuations and arrangement. The blunders are: using abbreviations and including ‘Number’ in the house address. Example


No 18b, Abiola Close, ← (wrong)

Ebutte LGA, ← (wrong)

18B, Abiola Close, ← (correct)

Ebutte Local Government Area, ← (correct)


NOTE: There is this new trend in letter writing that forbids students from writing the number of their house address. Instead, they are advised to write the street name.


Punctuations:  Street number, city and local government are enclosed with comas. The last, being the state or the country name depending on the destination of the letter is enclosed with a full stop. The date too is enclosed with a full stop.


Arrangement:  A great blunder which can cause a student half of his marks is to write his own address where the receiver’s address should be written. The writer’s address should be arranged from the school name or house number and street down to the state or country and followed by the date on which the letter was written. The receiver’s address should begin with the receiver’s designation or title of office. See example below:


The writer’s address


Bethel Home Convent,

41C, Colliery Avenue,

Government Reserved Area,

Enugu North Local Government Area,


13th May, 2022.



The receiver’s address


The Principal,

Bethel Home Convent,



(2) Date: The date of the letter is always at the right hand side. It follows immediately after the writer’s address. That is below the writer’s address.


(3)  Salutation/Greeting: This is written (giving a space gap) below the receiver’s address. In the time past, it was taught that salutations for formal letters should be purely officials. But recent teachings have countered it. It is of the opinion that the receivers are humans with emotions and conscience. Adding little spice of love or kindness to your salutations may draw the receivers’ interest or attention to your letter.

Examples of salutations for formal letters are Sir, Ma, Madam, Mr President, Honourable Commissioner, etc. The listed salutations are good and acceptable. But like stated earlier, a spiced salutation attracts the receivers’ attention. For example, Dear Sir, Dear Mr President, Dear Mrs Nwafor, Dear Honourable Commissioner, Dear Proprietress, Dear Dr. Tim

 (4) Title/caption/:  This is a heading given to a formal letter. This acts as a summary or topic of the letter. We know what a letter is all about by its caption or title. Letter written for job seeking is captioned as “Application Letter”. Letter written to make a complaint is captioned as “letter of Complaint”. The caption of an essay or letter writing can be written in capital or small letters. The rule says, when you write in small letters, you underline. We do not underline a caption written in capital letters.The caption or title is written at the same side below salutation. Immediately after salutation, the title of your letter should be introduced.

Letter Writings – Formal and Informal Letter

 (5) The body of the letter: The body of a letter begins with introductory sentence explaining the reason or the reasons for the letter. It is made up of paragraphs. The paragraphs are knitted together, pointing to the theme of the letter. Any point raised in a paragraph must point or relate to the main issue that is been discussed. The body of a letter begins with an introductory paragraph and end with a closing paragraph.


 (6)  Subscription/farewell: The acceptable format for every formal letter is “Yours faithfully”.


 (7)  Signature: This is the signature of the writer to authenticate the letter. Signature comes before the name of the writer.


 (8) Name: This is the name of the writer. In a formal letter, pet name is not acceptable; the full name of the writer should be written.

(9)  Designation: This is the title of office or the position the writer of a formal letter is holding. When a Senior Hostel Prefect or a Senior Prefect writes a letter to the Proprietor, PTA Chairman, Commissioner, he or she needs to include the authority of his office or designation. Designation comes below the writer’s signature. It should be bracketed. Example:

Yours faithfully,


Njide Mkparu

(Senior Hostel Prefect)  ← Designation.

Letter Writings – Formal and Informal Letter


  1. Formal and informal letters have the addresses of the writer at the right hand side.
  2. Dates are written in the both.
  3. Both forms have salutations.
  4. The bodies of the letters are made up of paragraphs.
  5. They have farewell or subscription.
  6. The names of the writers are written at the end of the letter.


  1. ADDRESS: Formal letters have two addresses while an informal letters have one address.
  2. TITLE/CAPTION: Formal letters have captions or titles while an informal letters do not have captions. An informal letter which is given a caption has become semi-formal.
  3. SALUTATION: Informal and formal letters have salutations but the salutations of informal letters carry business or official tone. An informal letter may use pet name in the salutation it is not permitted in a formal letter.
  4. SUBSCRIPTION/CLOSURE: “Yours faithfully” is used in business and other formal letters while “Yours Sincerely”, “Yours lovely” and many others are used in friendly letters or informal letters.
  5. SIGNATURE: Formal letters are signed for authentication while informal letters are not signed.
  6. NAME: The names of the writers are written at the end of formal and informal letters. But a writer of informal letter is free to write his pet name or real name the way he likes. It is not so in a formal letter. Initials and surname or full name are used in a formal letter.
  7. DESIGNATION: The position of authority of a writer is included in business letters or formal letters while friendly or informal letters do not carry the designation of the writer.

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