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Letter Writing Tips

Published on 03 Feb 2017

This article will take you through the common types of letters that you may need to write at some point in your working life.

Letter writing is fast becoming a lost art, however it is still important to know the basics of letter writing as it will help with composing emails and other forms of communication in this modern age (trying to avoid using the term ‘social media’, but it is nearly impossible these days!).

Despite modern technology, letters are not obsolete. If you have an office job then it is more than likely that you will have to write letters from time to time. For example a covering letter for your resume when you are applying for your dream job, letters to clients or colleagues, or perhaps a thank you letter.

Business Letters

A quick tip about laying out your letter - look through recent letters that you may have received to find a business letter and use their format as a model.

Here are our tips for writing business letters:

1. Use a simple font such as Arial, Calibri or the standard Times New Roman, and a font size of 11 or 12 points (the size will depend on the font you use – for Calibri we prefer 11 point and Times New Roman is 12, however it is up to you to make the call on how your letter looks on paper). A word of warning if your letter is short, don’t use a large font to increase the space it takes up on the page – this looks unprofessional.

2. Keep your audience in mind. If you are writing to a customer don’t use jargon.

3. Keep your letters as short as possible. Business letters need to be straight to the point. Try and keep your letters to one page.

4. Always proof-read your letters. If time permits it is a good idea to have someone else read it, as a fresh set of eyes will often pick up any small typos that you have overlooked.

5. A final word of warning for business letters - always type your letters, never handwrite a business letter. Handwriting a letter is ok for a personal thank you note or a love letter, but not for a business letter, it gives a very unprofessional look.

Job Applications

A covering letter for your resume is the first impression that your potential new boss will get of you. Here are our tips for job application cover letters:

1. It must be typed – see point 5 above.

2. Address the letter to “Mrs Brown” or “Mr Brown”, rather than using their first name. Using a first name is overly familiar for writing to someone that you don’t know. Unisex names such as ‘Sam’ can cause confusion, so if you are unsure of the gender of the person that you are writing to it is a good idea to use their first name and surname ie ‘Bill Brown’.

3. Check and double check that you have provided all the information outlined in the job ad.

4. Refer to any enclosures (such as your resume!).

Personal Letters

If you really want to stand out from an email, why not send a letter to a friend or loved one?

The rules surrounding personal letters are a lot less than business letters for obvious reasons.

If someone has given you a gift or done you a favour, why not send them a thank you note or letter to express your appreciation.

Handwriting such letters gives a more personal feel. A typed letter will often come across as cold or even rude especially to older people.

As well as saying “thank you” for the gift, it is a good idea to acknowledge the particular gift or favour.

Letters of condolence or sympathy when someone is unwell or has died can be very difficult, but taking the time to write a letter or note with some kind words will mean a lot to the recipient. 

Other times when you might like to write a thank you letter:

  • To your parents, grandparents or other relatives who have helped you with a big purchase (such as your first car) or if they have helped you complete a diploma or degree.
  • Birthday or Christmas gifts.
  • When you have stayed as a house guest.

If you would like any assistance with letter writing, we provide a professional service and can type and proof read your letter to make it look top notch. You can call us on 6332 9300 or use our online contact us form – www.branchoffice.com.au/contact