Difference Between Formal and Informal Letter

Main Difference: The main difference between a formal letter and an informal letter is their purpose: a formal letter is written for professional (official and business) communication while the informal letter is used for personal communication. 

A letter is a written message from one party to another containing information. Letters are one of the oldest modes of communication used by humankind. In the contemporary society, there are two types of letters: formal letters and informal letters. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between Formal and Informal Letter.

What is a Formal Letter

A formal letter is a letter that is written in the formal language with a specific format for business or official purpose. In simple terms, this is a letter written for professional communication. This is also sometimes referred to as a business letter. A formal letter could be a letter of enquiry, a letter of request, or a letter of complaint.

How to Write a Formal Letter

A formal letter should necessarily contain;

Address of the Sender and Recipient, Date:

Traditionally, senders’ address was written in the top right corner of the letter, but nowadays it is written in the top left corner. The date should be written directly below sender’s address. Then place the recipient’s address on the line below. Include his or her title (Miss, Mrs., Mr. etc.). Then write the recipient’s job title, Company name, and address.

Salutation and Greetings:

If you don’t know the name of your recipient, you can use “Dear sir/ Madam’. If you know the name, use his or her surname preceded by the title.(Dear Mr. Anderson,)

Main Body:

This part includes the message you want to communicate to the recipient. A subject line can also be included after the salutation, but this is not strictly essential. Three paragraphs are more than enough for the body. The first/introductory paragraph should be brief and should include the purpose of the letter. The concluding paragraph should outline what action you would like the recipient to take:


Place a salutation at the end of the letter. If the name of your recipient is not known, use “Yours faithfully”, if not you can use “Yours sincerely,”. Then sign your name, include your name and job title (if appropriate) beneath.

 informal letter

What is an Informal Letter | How to Write an Informal Letter

Informal letters are  letters we write to friends and relatives. There is no strict format to write an informal letter. The language and tone of the letter also depend on the familiarity between the sender and the recipient. That is to say, a letter you write to a distant relative and a letter you write to your best friend will be vastly different. If we look at some components of  an informal letter briefly,

Language: Informal language, you can use slang and colloquial terms

Tone: Conversational tone, it is said that an informal letter should sound like a real conversation

Salutations: Most common salutation is “Dear”, but you can use words like “Hi”, “Hey” if appropriate. Do not use titles.difference between formal and informal letter

Difference Between Formal and Informal Letter

The major difference between a formal letter and an informal letter is their purpose: a formal letter is written for professional (official and business) communication while the informal letter is used for personal communication. An informal letter is written to a close friend or a relative, but a formal letter is generally sent to a person we do not know.

Another difference that can be observed is the structure of the letter. A formal letter follows a strict structure while an informal letter does not follow a strict format. Language is another difference in these two types of letters. A formal letter is written in formal, professional language while an informal letter is written in informal language; slang and colloquial terms can be used depending on the familiarity between the sender and recipient. Formality level is another difference that can be seen in these two types of letters. In a formal letter, we always use titles and surname of the recipient. But, in an informal letter, we always use the first name of the recipient as we are familiar with the recipient. 

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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