Difference Between Formal Letter and Informal Letter with Examples

Difference Between Formal Letter and Informal Letter with Examples

8 mins readComment
Rashmi
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Feb 21, 2024 15:01 IST

The main difference between formal and informal letters is that a formal letter is sent for an official or serious purpose, while an informal letter is ideal for sending a message to a friend, acquaintance or relative. Intrigued? Let us learn more about the crucial differences between formal and informal letters.

Formal Letter vs  Informal Letter

 

Content

Difference Between Formal and Informal Letters

Aspect

Formal Letter

Informal Letter

Tone

Polite and professional

Casual and friendly

Language

Formal language and vocabulary

Informal language and vocabulary

Structure

Clearly defined structure with headings

Relaxed structure, no specific headings

Salutation

Formal salutations (e.g., Dear Mr Singh)

Personal salutations (e.g., Hi Tanya)

Addressing

Addressing by title or last name

Addressing by first name or nickname

Length

Usually concise and to the point

Longer and more conversational

Closing

Formal closing phrases (e.g., Sincerely)

Informal closing phrases (e.g., Take care).

Signature

Full name and professional designation (if required).

First name or nickname.

Examples

Business communication, job applications, official requests, complaints, inquiries, or any situation that requires a professional approach.

Catching up with a friend, expressing gratitude, sharing news, or inviting someone to an informal gathering.

What is a Formal Letter?

A formal letter is written for official or serious business. This letter should contain appropriate language and tone, and its content should be respectful and formal. Formal letters are often used in situations such as applying for a job, asking for official information, complaints, and official communications.

Characteristics of a Formal Letter

  1. Salutation: Formal letters begin with a respectful salutation, such as "Dear Mr. Smith" or "To Whom It May Concern."
  2. Structure: They follow a standard structure, including an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs with clear points, and a concise conclusion.
  3. Language: The language used in formal letters is precise, polite, and devoid of slang or colloquial expressions.
  4. Tone: Formal letters are professional, respectful, and objective. Emotions are generally kept in check to maintain a sense of formality.
  5. Examples: Formal letters encompass various purposes, such as job applications, cover letters, business proposals, complaint letters, and official correspondence.

Example of an Informal Letter

[Your Name]

[Your Position]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[City, State, ZIP]

[Date]

[Team Member's Name]

[Team Member's Position]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[City, State, ZIP]

 

Dear [Team Member's Name],

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to share some exciting news and extend my heartfelt congratulations to you. After carefully evaluating your performance, I am pleased to inform you that you have been promoted to District Sales Head.

Your dedication, exceptional performance, and unwavering commitment to our team and company have not gone unnoticed. Your valuable contributions have played a pivotal role in our team's success, and I am confident that you will excel in this new leadership role.

As the District Sales Head, you will be entrusted with greater responsibility and authority. I am confident in your capabilities and believe you will bring fresh ideas, strategic thinking, and a results-oriented approach to your new role. You will oversee a larger territory, manage a team of sales professionals, and drive our sales targets. I am assured that you will rise to the occasion and continue demonstrating the same professionalism, integrity, and dedication that has characterised your work thus far.

Once again, congratulations on your well-deserved promotion. May this new role bring you immense personal and professional fulfilment. I wish you the best of luck in your new position as District Sales Head, and I am excited to witness your continued growth and success.

Warmest regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Position]

[Company Name]

What is An Informal Letter?

An informal letter is for relaxed situations, such as communicating with friends and family or inviting a party. This letter should have a friendly and relaxed tone, and its content should be fun and light-hearted.

The characteristics of an informal letter are the following:

  1. Colloquial language: an informal letter uses a closer and more relaxed language, typical of everyday speech, instead of formal and structured language.
  2. Personal tone – The informal letter is addressed to friends, family, or acquaintances, making it more personal in tone and content.
  3. Less Formality – Unlike a formal letter, the informal letter does not follow a strict format and has no specific requirements in terms of style and structure.
  4. Personal matters – In an informal letter, you can include personal details and talk about topics inappropriate for a formal letter, such as gossip, funny anecdotes, personal opinions, etc.
  5. Informal greetings and farewells – The greeting and farewell in an informal letter are less formal and may include terms of endearment, nicknames, etc.
  6. Abbreviations and Contractions: In an informal letter, you can use abbreviations and contractions, such as "I'm" instead of "I am", "Can't" instead of "cannot", "Won't" instead of "will not", "Don't" instead of "do not", "I'll" instead of "I will", "Let's" instead of "let us", etc.
  7. No Signature Required – Unlike a formal letter, an informal letter does not require a formal signature at the end, although the sender's name may be included at the end of the letter.

Example of an Informal Letter

Dear Dylan,

I hope this letter finds you in high spirits! I’m inviting you to a special event - Luke's 10th birthday party. 

We’re throwing a Gothic-themed celebration, which wouldn't be the same without you.

The party is scheduled for Saturday, July 15th, from 2:00 PM onwards. We're going out with black and red decorations, spooky props, and a playlist that will send chills down your spine. We know how much you love all things gothic, and we thought this would be the perfect occasion to embrace that style together.

Luke is beyond excited about his birthday and mentioned how much he enjoys your company. 

We'll plan various activities, including a costume contest, where the most ghoulishly dressed individual will win a special prize. Feel free to get as creative as you like with your outfit! We encourage everyone to let their dark side shine.

Please let us know if you can join us so we can make the necessary arrangements. You can reach me at 98XXXXXX87 (phone no.). We hope you can make it and make Luke's birthday memorable.

I look forward to your response and hope to see you at the party!

Warm regards,

Haley

Main Differences

Grammatical style

Formal letters require correct writing, using punctuation marks in each situation, while informal letters lack rules in this regard, being able to use a style as if we were speaking directly face to face.

In the same way, we can add exclamation marks in the latter, which are very rare to find in the former.

Letterhead

Formal letters usually have a letterhead. At the top, both right and left, usually comes the identifying data of the person or entity that writes the letter. In contrast, the informal letter does not require a letterhead. Since they are known, indicating the sender's identification data is not required. They can go directly to the initial greeting.

Initial greeting

One of the most notable differences between formal and informal letters is the use of the greeting. Formal letters use different courtesy treatments depending on the person the letter addresses. 

Formal letters begin with Dear Sir, Dear Madam, or Dear Sir or Madam and end with Yours sincerely.

"Dear Sir…"

Instead, informal letters use a more intimate heading like "Hey" or "Hi" followed by the recipient's name. They include a closing that expresses familiarity or warmth, such as "Yours," "Best regards," or "Take care.

Introduction

Formal letters require a brief introduction to inform the recipient about the intentions of the letter, be it a recommendation, an introduction, a request letter, or a thank you letter.

In contrast, informal letters do not require any structure. As if it were an open conversation, the sender has every right to start the letter with the information that is most relevant to him, without an established order, almost improvised, just as it happens in real conversations.

Letter Body

Informal letters must maintain the rest of the courtesy treatments appropriate to the recipient throughout the body. The letter requires brevity, without dwelling on jokes or unimportant details.

In contrast, informal letters can extend as many paragraphs as necessary. There is total freedom when writing.

Closing

It is customary to use cordial language and courtesy formulas in formal letters. Here are some examples of commonly used phrases in formal letter closings such as 

  • "Sincerely" or "Yours sincerely"
  • "Respectfully" or "Yours respectfully"
  • "Best regards"
  • "Kind regards"
  • "Yours faithfully"
  • "With gratitude"
  • "Thank you for your attention"
  • "Looking forward to your response"

Informal letters do not always use some close phrase that shows feelings. Some closing remarks of informal letters are - 

  • "A big hug"
  • "Take care"
  • "Best wishes"
  • "Loads of love"
  • "Warm regards"
  • "With love"
  • "Talk to you soon"
  • "Looking forward to seeing you"
  • "Take it easy"
  • "Sending hugs"
  • "Stay in touch"

Signature

Formal letters require the person's name at the end (called pre-signature) accompanied by the signature. Its importance in business, companies, and legal matters makes the signature necessary to verify the document.

On the other hand, the informal letter does not need to be signed.

Postscript

Another typical characteristic of informal letters is using a postscript or PS. The fact of improvising the information, of expressing the sentences without a programmed order, means that at the end of the letter, some information may remain in the inkwell. The postscript is added, allowing us to point out some forgotten phrases.

There is no place for postscripts in formal letters. It is assumed that the person who writes the document takes their time, uses a draft, and always knows the issues to be discussed. A postscript in a formal letter can be considered disrespectful and gives a bad impression about the person who writes.

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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio