360CliQ Educational Review Differences Between Formal and Informal Letter Formats

Differences Between Formal and Informal Letter Formats

Differences between Formal and Informal Letter Formats

There are some major differences between a formal and formal letter formats and they are going to be discussed under Our categories as follows:

1. Purpose

The purposes of these letters are quite different. This shows he aim(s) or reason(s) for writing.

A formal letter is also known as a business or professional letter and it is usually written for official reasons. A formal letter is written in a formal language with a specific structure and layout.

The reasons may be to: make a complaint, request something. make an enquiry, apply for a job, make a proposal. make a reference, invite to speak e.t.c.

Informal letter on the other hand is a personal letter in which you may want to ask for something, or communicate with a friend far away. It is a letter you would write to a friend, a family member or an acquaintance. It is concerned with family matters, friendship, social engagements and other arrangements of a purely personal sort.

2. Format

When writing a formal letter, you must be conscious of the arrangement from the addresses, and date, to the salutation and heading, down to the introduction, details and conclusion; and the closing and signature.

An informal letter is quite different because you can choose to write it the way you want. You only need to follow some simple rules especially, if you are writing an informal letter during examination. If not for examination, an informal letter is just a written form of communication without formalities.

It comprises of an address (writer’s address), the date, salutation, body of the letter (Introduction, details and conclusion) the complimentary close and the first name of the writer.

Another difference between a Formal Letter And Informal Letter is their Features which will be listed below;

Features of a Formal Letter

i. Writer’s Address and Date: The address should be written at the top right corner. The date should be written in full. For example, 1st of January 2019 or 1st of January, 2019. The address should follow the same method also, the style of punctuation.

ii. Recipient / Addressee’s Address: This is the address of the receiver of the letter. It should be written at the left hand side after the date.

iii. Salutation: Dear Sir/Madam

iv. Subject Heading: This carries the reason you are writing the letter, in a phrase. It should be in capital letters, if not, the first letter of the content words (Noun, Verb, Adjective and Adverb) should be in capital letter and underlined.

v. Body: The first paragraph should be introductory while the subsequent paragraphs should convey whatever it is you want to get across, in detail. The last paragraph should conclude the letter.

vi. Signature Block: This should be written starting with a complimentary close, Yours faithfully, followed by a signature and the full name of the writer.

NOTE: When writing formal letters, you are not allowed to write in abbreviations or words like don’t, shouldn’t or aren’t.

Features of an Informal Letter

(i) Address and Date: The address and date should be written at the top right corner. If the letter is going to be sent to someone in another country, you should add your country to the address.


Department of General Studies, The Federal Polytechnic,
P.M.B 5351,
Ekiti State,

(ii) Salutation: The salutation is written at the left hand side following the address and date. The most common salutation in informal letter is “Dear…..” with the first name of the recipient. Example: Dear Korede.

(iii) Body: The first paragraph generally expresses a greeting, followed by wishes of good health. Remember, you are writing to someone you know very well, so try to be as friendly as possible.

Example: How are you my dear brother?

The second paragraph carries the reason you are writing the letter. Try to be as conversational as possible. You are allowed to use colloquial language that is, a language that is appropriate for speech but not really for writing.

The third paragraph concludes the letter.

(iv) Complimentary Close: In informal letter writing, the complimentary close is always very friendly.

Examples: Yours sincerely, Yours forever, Your sister, Your love, Best wishes, Yours affectionately and so on.

(3) Language: In a formal letter, you have to mind the language usage. It calls for a language that is précise and a tone that is more formal and dignified. Clarity and accuracy is also required. An informal letter is different because you are allowed to use codes, slangs, abbreviations if you like. The language use needs to be flowing and homely, like the piece of familiar conversation it is intended to be. It invites a colloquial style.

(4) Manner: A good business letter is one that expresses the writer’s thoughts clearly in simple language and in as few words as possible. You have to go straight to the point when writing a formal letter. Keep it simple and short and also avoid all unnecessary friendly chat and casualiness. In a business letter, brevity is required without sacrificing the clarity of the message,

An informal letter allows you to greet and gist a little before going to the issue at hand depending on your relationship with the recipient. Brevity in informal or personal letter may be mistaken for rudeness.

Characteristics of Formal and Informal Letter

A formal style is characterized by an impersonal, non emotional way of expressing ideas, frequent use of the passive, non-colloquial English and complex sentences. Short forms of sentences are acceptable for clarity and precision.

Informal style is characterized by a personal, emotional and chatty way of expressing ideas and use of colloquial English, idiomatic expressions and short forms.

I believe with this article of mine,you have been able to differenciate between Formal and informal Letter.

Thank you for your visits.

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