How To Write A Formal Letter


How to write a formal letter
I. Formal v. informal style
II. Types of cover letters
III. Cover letter template
IV. Short cover letters
V. Job application/Academic cover letters
VI. Personal statement
VII. Grant application/Grant proposal cover letter
VIII. Statement of proposed activity
I. Formal v. informal style
There are various types of formal letters, e.g. business letters, letters of application for
admission (e.g. to a university), job application letters, grant/scholarship applications.
They require a formal style, i.e. the right choice of words, sentence structures, and
punctuation (see Guidelines for Academic Writing: Typical features of Academic English
and Punctuation).
Compare the two letters below. Decide which of them meets the criteria for a formal
business letter and say why (comment on the format, choose examples of unsuitable
words/phrases/structures and match them with words/phrases/structures appropriate for
the given purpose).
Hello Mr. Roger Jones,
I got the letter you sent on 1st September, and the stuff about the stock control system you
make. It sounds great for us, but I want to check some things before we buy it. You said the
system is bang up-to-date, but what happens if you update it again soon? Do we get money
off the new one? You said it takes 3 weeks to install the system – that’s too long! Can’t you
do it any quicker? Hope you can reply soon, we’re in a bit of a hurry.
Janet Brown
Dear Mr Jones,
Stock Control Software System
Thank you for your letter of 1st September and the information you sent regarding the stock
control system offered by your company. I certainly feel the system will meet our
requirements. However, there are some points which I would like clarified before we go
ahead and order the system.
Firstly, although you mentioned that the system has recently been updated, I wondered
whether we might be eligible for a discount on any future upgrades.


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