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How to Write a Letter in the 21st Century

Writing letters by hand has long been considered the ultimate expression of elegance, beauty, and class. This hasn’t changed much in the 21st century—except that most people don’t do it anymore. If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to send an old-fashioned letter or an email instead, here are some tips that will make your choice easier.

#1. Categorize Your Audience

As you begin your letter, consider how much research your audience has done on your organization. If you are sending out solicitation letters, odds are they already know quite a bit about what you do, so there is no need to spend more than one sentence on background information. If someone else is writing it and might need some context, however, make sure he or she knows exactly who these letters are going out to. #2. Explain Why You’re Writing: Now that we have our audience defined, let’s get into what we want them to do when they read our letter.

#2. Proper Grammar

Are You Using Punctuation Properly? Punctuation marks are useful tools that help make your writing clear and easy to understand. Unfortunately, they can be easily misused if you don’t know how each of them works. For example, you might not be sure when it’s okay to use semicolons instead of commas; similarly, many people struggle with knowing whether or not you should capitalize after periods. To avoid confusion when it comes to grammar and punctuation rules, it helps having an overview of common problems and potential solutions.

#3. Consider the Recipient’s Name

Always consider your recipient’s name when addressing your letter. For instance, Dear Sir or Madam sounds very formal, but if you are writing to your bank, you could personalize your greeting and use Dear Bank of America Employee. The same is true for emails; if you are sending an email message to a friend on Facebook, it might be appropriate to open with Hi [insert friend's name here]. If it is just one co-worker who has worked with you before, then write Dear [insert co-worker's name here].

#4. Writing the Greeting

There are three main ways to address letters: formal, informal and professional. Formal letters require only a simple Dear... before your recipient's name. Informal letters can begin with either Dear or just their first name, depending on your relationship with them and how close you are. Professional emails should always be addressed by last name only; it's best not to use an individual's first name unless they've given you permission to do so. This is also true for faxes, which still happen -- though much less often than they used to -- due to technology advancement.

#5. Write an Attention Grabbing Opening Line

If your letter is going to be read at all, you’ll want it to be read from beginning to end. To get people interested, make sure your opening sentence is interesting and memorable. Keep it short and simple and don’t bog down your first paragraph with tons of background info; save that for later on when people are actually engaged with what you have to say. #4. Use an Appropriate Salutation: The salutation indicates how formal or informal your letter will be so choosing one that fits within those parameters is essential.

#6. Focus on How You Can Help Them

At some point, they may not even be aware that you're promoting your business. The secret here is in making it seem like you genuinely care about their needs and wants, not just getting something out of them. Anyone can send mass emails or buy ads, but only a true professional can build rapport with prospects and customers and offer personalized solutions. #6. Focus on How You Can Help Them: At some point, they may not even be aware that you're promoting your business. The secret here is in making it seem like you genuinely care about their needs and wants, not just getting something out of them. Anyone can send mass emails or buy ads, but only a true professional can build rapport with prospects and customers and offer personalized solutions.

#7. End With A Warm Closing Statement

After you’ve completed your letter, end with a warm, friendly statement that effectively closes out your pitch. For example: I hope that my product or service is something you’d be interested in reviewing, and I look forward to hearing from you. Or: Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my product or my experience. Thank you for your time!

#8. Proofread Once, Then Proofread Again, Then Send!

When we’re desperate for feedback, it’s tempting to let friends and family members proofread our work instead of taking time for ourselves. But sending something out before you’ve double-checked it is risky. It’s best to write your first draft, get as far away from it as possible (leave overnight if possible), then come back with fresh eyes and check your writing against these three key principles: accuracy, clarity, and conciseness.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for further information on how to write a letter today, head over to our full library of articles here at wikiHow. If there is no relevant information available, it might be time for you to brush up on your writing skills. Check out our courses section under Writing & Grammar, where we offer courses such as Basic Essay Writing and College-Level Essay Writing. Good luck!

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