The advent of technological inventions has demolished the golden age of letter writing. But still, receiving a long, caring personal letter lit the core of our mind with joy.
If your exams are over and you are thinking of sitting with a pen and paper, it’s high time you learn how to format a personal letter. Undoubtedly, it will seem a lot more challenging than writing an email. You may wonder how to start or what to write in the personal letter. Don’t panic. We’re here with a complete guidebook of personal letter formatting and everything related to it.
You are going to have a long ride, so be prepared and fasten your seat belts. Let’s start.
What is a Personal Letter?
Personal things can’t be formal. And personal letters also stay in this category. Mostly, one person sends a personal letter to another person related to personal events. It’s not just an invitation envelope. People tend to pour their hearts into this kind of letter. Often, personal letters are handwritten.
A Brief History of Personal Letters
You will be shocked to know that the first personal letter was written in 500 BC. And from then, the tendency to write a letter has skyrocketed for educated people. For hundreds of years, people felt good when they received a personal letter from their dear ones because it was the only means of long-distance relationships.
Even less than 40 years ago, people depended on letters to know the whereabouts of other people. And now, as advanced technology has gulped everything, the regularity of writing personal letters has vanished. Although letter writing has become a lost art, still, it has value to people. Letters are also part of the literature. You can visit different city museums to take a look at those letters that made history.
According to a study, 60% of people don’t want to sit and write a letter, but 69% of people feel good when they get a letter.
How will it feel if you get a Hogwarts welcome letter? Of course, it will mean a lot more to you than getting tweets or WhatsApp messages. So, it would be great if you knew the types of personal letters.
Types of Personal Letters
A personal letter keeps a portion of your heart in it. And your heart calls people in different ways.
Here are a few types of personal letters that you can follow –
1. Love Letters
Love may fade away but love letters don’t. Nothing is as unique as a letter showing a person you love and care for. The tradition of love letters is still there, even on social media. But don’t take it another way. A love letter is not just showing affection or love to your partner. You can send love letters to anyone who cares about you. For example, your parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, etc.
2. Letter to Pen Friends
When there were no social media, there were letters for pen friends. People tend to communicate with long-distant friends with letters. Even in this digital age, the likeness of letters is not gone. But remember one thing, whom you regularly communicate with can only expect a letter from you.
3. Goodbye Letters
You can send goodbye letters to your friends when the session ends, and they will study abroad. Also, you can send goodbye letters to someone who lives far from you and is shifting to a different place. It is a great way of saying goodbye, mostly for those who are going to start a new chapter of their life.
4. Letters to Celebrities
You can always send a letter to the person you admire and think of as an idol. This type of letter is called a fan letter, and it is mostly written for celebrities, such as actors, writers, musicians, artists, etc. Fan letters are mostly based on your thoughts about their performances and positiveness. Try to play tender here. Don’t write any harsh truths or rude words.
5. Thank You Letters
When you want to appreciate someone’s behaviour, you can send a thank you letter. It is nothing but an informal version of formal appreciation letters. When someone invites you to their housewarming, birthday, or Christmas party, and it makes you feel important, you can send a thank you letter to them.
6. Condolence Letters
With condolence letters, you can show your sympathy or empathy to a person in the nicest way. People mostly send condolence letters when a sudden death happens in the family. Your letter can give the person a chance to feel strong in a time of genuine grief.
7. Celebration Letters
There are lots of reasons to send a celebration letter. It is all about wishing a person better times and good luck and that what they are doing is alright. It can uplift a person and make them feel positive.
8. Get Well Soon Letters
For persons who are dealing with sickness at home or in the hospital, your get well soon letter can work more than medicine them. Their minds get positive vibes, and they recover rapidly, as you wish them a speedy recovery!
So, these are the types of personal letters. Now, you should learn how to structure a personal letter.
The 101 of Personal Letter Structure
When people were less busy and had time for their close ones, they wrote letters. Compared with today’s text messages, emails, or tweets, letters are a more powerful and aesthetic way to connect with friends and families. But you must not forget that writing letters is not as easy as sending texts. So, if you know the structure of an informal letter, it will be easy for you to craft one.
Here is the standard personal letter writing format. Let’s have a look –
Every letter has three rudimentary parts.
- Opening of the Letter
- Body or Message of the Letter
- Closing of the Letter
But you need to take care of a few more things to establish a proper personal letter format.
1. Name and Address of the Sender
You need to clearly place your full name and address at the top right corner of the letter. Don’t forget to mention the zip code. Also, you need to mention the date you are writing the letter. It will help the recipient understand where the writer is and send a reply.
2. Name and Address of the Recipient
Clearly mention the recipient’s name and full address so that the letter is delivered to their address without any hassle. This part will go at the top left corner of the letter.
Before you start telling your message, you need to address the receiver. So, you can just start with a “Dear” followed by the recipient’s name.
4. The Opening Paragraph
A letter needs an opening paragraph just to attract the recipient’s attention. It is the first sentence of your letter.
Here you will articulate your main message. There is no fixed word limit for the body part as personal letters mean to convey your emotion and feelings.
6. The Concluding Paragraph
This part will tell the recipient that the letter is about to end. Here you have to tell just a summary of your whole message and end the letter. Always try to keep this part action-oriented so the reader can feel the urge to reply immediately.
7. The Signing Off Note
Here you need to thank the recipient for their attention and time and officially conclude the letter after wishing them good luck.
8. First or Full Name of the Sender
Your personal letter will end with your name or the sender’s name. You will understand this part better if you can go through a layout of a personal letter.
Here is a layout of a personal letter. The digit follows the components mentioned earlier.
The DOs & DON’Ts in a Personal Letter
Personal letters are one of the best tools for healthy communication, but things can go wrong if you don’t understand what is decreasing the value of your letter. It’s high time to check what you should do and must avoid in your letter so that people don’t misinterpret it. Here are a few examples –
✔Ask about the Recipient’s life
When you are writing a personal letter, you must talk about yourself and the recipient. For example, “I got the news that you got a promotion. So, how is life now?” From this, the recipient will understand that you are interested in them.
❌ Don’t Gossip
It’s not a good practice to judge one’s life and write about everything about them in a letter. You must hold your impulse and show it to the right place.
Personal letters do not follow any strict word limit. But you should follow etiquette and place your thoughts in a succinct way.
❌ Don’t be a Tell-All
A letter is all about great communication. So, there is nothing wrong if you want to share your heart with someone. But try to avoid a few intimate things that can cause embarrassment for you later.
When someone receives your letter, they hope for something good. You don’t know who is in what situation. So, try to use your soft side while writing a letter.
❌ Don’t Show Your Anger
If you speak bitter, one day, it will be blurred. But written words are stronger than spoken words. They will remain forever and can cause permanent damage between you and the recipient. So, it will be a clever decision if you don’t show your anger in a letter.
When you are positive, you can influence or motivate people in the right direction. So, think positive and craft those ideas in your letter. Always wish good luck to the recipients.
❌ Don’t be Negative!
You can’t send a negative letter to someone that is full of pessimistic thoughts and misfortunes. No one loves to receive or read this kind of letter.
Now you know what you can add and avoid in personal letters. So, let’s find out how to respond to a personal letter.
How to Answer a Personal Letter?
Writing a letter is also an art that you can master if you really want. When someone sends a personal letter to you, it means they expect an immediate reply. So, it would be great if you knew the right process for replying to a personal letter. It’s the right way to maintain the communication flow between you and the sender of the letter. Here you will find a few unique tips that will assist you in crafting a good reply to a personal letter. Let’s have a look –
- When you start replying to the letter, you should use the first name of the recipient with a friendly greeting. But as personal letters are an informal way of communication, you can just use the recipient’s name without any greeting. Everything depends on the level of knowing the recipient or closeness with them.
- How you are going to start the letter primarily depends on the person who will get the letter from you. You have to write according to your reasons. In the first paragraph, you can use common introductory lines or show off your personality a bit more.
- Now your job is to reply to the topic of the letter. Don’t ever lie in your letters. If you are facing any problem, you can also talk about that but, of course, in an optimistic way. And don’t forget to talk about the positive things in your life.
- Don’t write a letter that is only filled with your life. It’s nothing but a bad manner. You can add a few questions for the recipient too. Ask how their lives are so they can also take the initiative of replying to your letter.
- Finally, end your letter with good wishes.
Personal Letter Template
Here you will find a top-notch example of personal letter. Let’s have a look –
An Example of a Condolence Letter:
I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. Nina was a very special woman. I have such fond memories of growing up and spending the night at your house. My mother wasn’t around much growing up, and yours really took me under her wing.
She always tried to include me in special events like shopping for prom dresses and birthday celebrations. I still remember the cake she baked for my 21st birthday. Her love meant more to me than I could ever express.
It means so much to me that now our little girls are friends, too. I know you want to keep Sarah close to you right now. But if there’s ever a time you need a little space to yourself, just say the word. I’ll come to pick her up and she can spend the night with Lucy at my house. I’m going to call you next weekend too and see if you two are up for a playdate at the park.
I love you.
To get a better taste of writing compelling and heartfelt personal letters, you can read literary collections of personal missives written by some of the greatest personalities the world has known. We have curated a list of such must-reads to add to your TBR list. Here you go!
- Letters to Felice by Franz Kafka
- Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke
- Letter from the Birmingham Jail – Martin Luther King Jr.
- The Letters of Vincent van Gogh – Vincent van Gogh
- Jane Austen’s Letters – Jane Austen
- Letters of John Keats – John Keats
- The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf – Louise DeSalvo
- Letters Home – Sylvia Plath
Most Frequently Asked Questions By Students
Q.1. What is the format of a personal letter?
Ans: A normal personal letter follows a simple format. Here you have to add –
- The name and the full address of the sender
- The name and the full address of the recipient
- A greeting phrase
- An introductory paragraph
- A body paragraph
- A concluding paragraph
- A signing-off note
- The full name of the sender
Q.2. What are the 5 parts of a personal letter?
Ans: Each personal letter has some basic parts. And you need to add content to these parts depending on the context. They are –
- The heading
- The opening
- The body
- The closing
- The sign-off note
Practice writing using these parts from now on to craft excellent personal letters.
Q.3. How do you start writing a personal letter?
Ans: Writing personal letters doesn’t have any specific rule, so one can start it just with a greeting, and after that come to the point. A personal letter is all about sending your own feelings and emotions. Also, here you will get a chance at storytelling. So, you can write a personal letter in the friendliest way.
Q.4. How is a personal letter different from an official letter?
Ans: The major difference between a personal and an official letter is that the first is informal, and the second is formal. It means one can address someone personal way in a personal letter, and it doesn’t have any specific format. But you need to follow a lot of etiquette while writing an official or professional letter.
Q.5. How long can be a personal letter?
Ans: There is no hard and fast rule for writing personal letters. You can write as much as you want, but it will be great if you try to concise your thoughts and just use one A4 size page to write your personal letter.
Q.6. How do you end a personal letter?
Ans: Ending a personal letter is very easy. You can end your personal letter by summarising what you have said throughout the letter. You can wish the recipient good luck and health and then add your signing off para.
Q.7. What’s the purpose of a personal letter?
Ans: People write personal letters to inform some events, or share some thoughts, or to stay in touch. All you need to remember is that personal letters must be easy to read and comprehend. You can use a conversational and casual tone in your letter.
Q.8. How many types of personal letters are there?
Ans: There are normally eight types of personal letters that one can send others, such as –
- Love letters
- Get well soon letters
- Condolence letters
- Thank you letters
- Celebration letters
- Fan letters
- Letters to pen pals
- Goodbye letters
Q.9. Can a cover letter be a personal letter?
Ans: Cover letters can’t be under personal letters because cover letters are focused on your job, but personal letters are focused on yourself. You send personal letters to your friends and families, but you have to send cover letters to your employers.
Q.10. When will you use a personal letter?
Ans: You can write a personal letter related to your personal matters or the recipients. But it’s not just an invitation note. One can write a personal letter about what’s happening in their life. It’s just a casual type letter.
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