We explain what formal letters and informal letters are, the differences between them, their characteristics and elements of each one.

What is a formal letter and an informal letter?

A letter is a traditional form of communication between people , in which a sender writes a text and sends it to a receiver. The letters can be formal or informal according to their function and the relationship that exists between the sender and the receiver.

In a formal letter, the relationship between the two people is distant because it usually occurs between people who do not know each other personally. A formal language is used, then, and they are letters that usually have a predetermined structure. They can have labor, commercial purposes, among others.

On the other hand, the informal letter is one in which both parts of the communication have an affective or close relationship . In this case, the issuer is allowed to choose the structure and elements of the letter, and informal language is usually used. They are written for various purposes such as: invitations, greetings, thanks, among others.

Letters are one of the oldest means of communication and today they are increasingly out of use due to new technologies such as email and chat.

They are written that are sent in an envelope that includes the name and address of the recipient on the front and the sender's name and address on the back. They are usually sent by mail or can be delivered by hand by a courier or by the same issuer.

Features and Characteristics of a formal letter

Characteristics of a formal letter

Some of the main characteristics of formal letters are:

  • The sender and the receiver do not have a relationship of friendship or familiarity, but rather have a labor, commercial relationship, among others.
  • They use a formal and structured language, always abiding by the correct use of punctuation and spelling rules.
  • They are written with the intention of placing an order, giving specific information, making an appointment, asking for references, among others.
  • They are usually used to transmit information without the presence of thoughts , conclusions or feelings of the issuer.
  • They are made up of certain elements that cannot be dispensed with.
  • They are sent in an envelope through the mail or can be delivered by hand.
  • They are usually short in length.

Features and Characteristics of an informal letter

Some of the main characteristics of informal letters are:

  • The sender and receiver of the letter have a close relationship, they can be family or friends.
  • They use informal, simple, and colloquial language, which may include abbreviations, inadvertent errors, and exclamation points.
  • They are written with the intention of greeting a birthday or some important event, to communicate news , make an invitation, send greetings, among many others.
  • They usually express emotions , thoughts, reflections and feelings of the one who writes.
  • They are made up of elements that may or may not be included, depending on the sender's preferences and needs.
  • They can include graphic resources such as drawings, diagrams or whatever the issuer wants to convey.
  • They are sent in an envelope through the mail or can be delivered by hand.
  • They include resources such as asterisks, postscripts, and clarifications.
  • They have an indefinite extension.

Characteristics of an informal letter

Differences between a formal letter and an informal letter

Some of the main differences between a formal letter and an informal letter are:

  • Sender and receiver . In formal letters, the relationship between the sender and the recipient is mediated by a professional, labor or intellectual activity. In informal letters, the relationship between sender and receiver is one of closeness or affection (they are usually family or friends).
  • Language . The type of language used in a formal letter is formal and aloof and cannot have spelling and grammar errors. An informal letter allows for colloquial language because there is a close relationship between the sender and the receiver.
  • Objective . The formal letter is usually written for a specific purpose, for example, to express interest in a job, to arrange a meeting or to make a complaint or request. Informal letters are usually written to establish contact with another person and do not necessarily have to include a request or specific information.
  • Structure . The formal letter maintains an internal structure that does not allow to ignore any section or to change it of place, the elements that constitute this type of letter are structured in advance. In informal letters the structure is freer and all the elements that the writer deems necessary can be included.
  • Extension . The formal letter usually has a short length, since only its objective is detailed in its body. Informal letters can be as long as the issuer wishes.
  • Elements . Formal letters differ from informal letters by their constituent elements. They should include, among other things, a heading, a formal salutation, an introduction, a body of the letter and a final salutation with signature and clarification. For its part, the informal letter usually includes greeting, body and final greeting. Some may include postscripts and clarifications.

Differences between a formal letter and an informal letter

Elements of a formal letter

The main elements of a formal letter are:

  • Date and place . The date and the place where the letter is written is placed. For example: Guadalajara, November 3, 2020.
  • Header . The name of the person to whom the letter is addressed is included followed by the position or function they have within the institution (if applicable). For example: Luciano García. Head of the Department of Housing and Social Health of Guadalajara.
  • I salute . The initial greeting from the sender to the recipient is included. For example: Dear Mr. Garcia .
  • Introduction . The reason why the sender sends the letter is specified. For example: I request you please contact me, since I need to coordinate with you the meeting on Saturday, May 23 ...
  • Body . All pertinent information is detailed and it is a part of the formal letter that is not usually very long. For example: I remind you that in order to coordinate your arrival at our offices I will need you to send me your personal information with ...
  • Farewell . The sender says goodbye to the receiver. For example: Without further ado, greet him warmly.
  • Signature . A personal signature is made, a clarification of the name and surname and a stamp, so that the receiver has all the information of the issuer. For example: Víctor Grassi, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies.

Elements of an informal letter

Elements of an informal letter

The main elements that make up the structure of an informal letter are:

  • I salute . The greeting from the sender to the recipient is included. In some cases, informal letters include a date and place. For example: Hi, Juan .
  • Introduction . The why of the letter is included, although sometimes this element can be ignored and is considered part of the body of the letter. For example: I am writing these lines to wish you a very happy birthday .
  • Body . All the information that the sender wants to transmit to the recipient is detailed. For example: I take this opportunity to tell you that yesterday I was with your cousin Cecilia. How nice she is! He told me about your new project ...
  • Final salute and signature. A greeting and the sender's name are included. For example: I send you a big hug. Hyacinth .
  • Postscript . Clarifications are used when, after the letter is finalized, the sender forgot an important point that they want to mention to the recipient. Informal letters allow more than one postscript. For example: PS: Don't forget to send my love to your brothers and your father.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Anas is an editor of a prestigious publishing company in the United States. She studied Mathematics in Arizona. Anas is also a teacher and one of her long-term goals is to build an institution that offers free education to everyone who are financially not stable. .

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