How to Write a Formal Letter

The IELTS General Training Writing subtest, commonly taken by skilled workers and those who wish to be migrants, include letter writing. Most of the time, the letter test takers are required to write are formal – meant for people you work with or those who you do not test takers would do well to know how to write a formal letter. Also, formal letters are still applicable in many situations, particularly if you are working in the corporate world.

Here are some tips on how to write a formal letter.

  1. Use a full-block style. This is the easiest form of the formal letter. In the full-block style, all parts of the letter are flushed to the left. No indentions are made for paragraphs.
  2. Make sure to adopt a formal “tone of the writer”. This means avoiding slang or colloquial words and expressions. Slang means informal language – the language of the streets. This has no place in formal writing.
  3. Be organized. Make sure that you address only a point per paragraph. This creates a smooth flow to your story and it helps the reader better understand your narrative better. Remember to make use of transition words that indicate logical and chronological sequence to create cohesion in your letter
  4. Remember to KISS (Keep it Simple and Straightforward). In the IELTS, you have a word limit of a minimum of 150 words. Despite this, you must keep in mind that in formal correspondence, the people you are writing to will not have much time to read your letter. You may add details, to fill in the 150-word requirement, but these details should be completely relevant to the narrative that you are trying to create. Also, word usage must be aimed at clarity. Formal letters must be absolutely clear in intention and in the narrative itself.
  5. Do not overdo sophistication, or else it just becomes tacky. People often make the mistake of overturning an entire bucket of multi-syllabic words in a formal letter. Sophistication calls for subtlety, not screams. Instead of peppering your letter with hard-to-fathom vocabulary, settle for weaving these words into the text. It keeps the letter simple, but still gives the reader an insight to your English writing prowess.

The primary challenge of writing a formal letter is combining good writing skills, beating the word limit, and making sure that the details are enough to tell the tale in a way that is acceptable in the world of professionals. Practice, as these letters will not only be for your IELTS exam but for real life as well.

Good luck!


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