The main difference between a formal and an informal letter is that an informal letter is written in a more conversational style, while a formal letter is used when writing to someone of higher social status or authority. An informal letter is typically used for personal correspondence with family members or friends. We will focus more on some key differences between both in order for you to get a clear understanding.
What is a Formal Letter?
A formal letter is a letter that is written in a professional or formal tone. The purpose of a formal letter is to communicate with someone you do not know well, such as a potential employer, or to officially request something from someone.
When writing a formal letter, it is important to use proper grammar and punctuation and to be concise and polite. You should also include your contact information at the bottom of the letter.
What is an Informal Letter?
An informal letter is a message that does not need to be formal. It can be written between friends, family members, or coworkers and can include casual languages such as casual words and abbreviations.
If you are writing an informal letter it is okay to use contractions (don't instead of do not), but try to avoid using profanity or any other type of offensive language.
A good way to structure the content of your informal letter is by starting with a friendly greeting and closing with kind regards or simply signing off at the end of the text box. The body should contain all relevant information without too much detail; there is no need for full sentences when speaking informally!
Key Differences between a Formal & Informal Letter
The difference with the help of examples
Here is an example of a formal letter:
Please accept this letter and accompanying resume as my application for the Accounts Manager position recently advertised on your website. I am very interested in working with you, and believe that my qualifications make me a strong candidate for this role.
I would appreciate it if you could review both documents before contacting me to set up an interview time as soon as possible. Thank you for considering my candidacy, and I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience regarding the next steps!
Here's an example of an informal letter:
Dear Aunt Mary,
How are you doing? I hope all is well! I just wanted to let you know that my summer internship has been going really well so far. The office environment here reminds me a lot of home and everyone has been very friendly since day one. We're not too busy yet, but the projects we've had to work on have still challenged me in new ways and helped me gain some more skills for later down the line.
So yeah, everything's good over here! How about with you and Uncle Joe? Are you guys traveling at all this year or staying close to home? Let me know if there's anything exciting happening out there soon...I will be sending some extra love your way during Thanksgiving next month!! Take care aunt.
The difference in formats
The difference is typically the language, tone, and also sentence structure. The formal letter will have a more professional-sounding opening and close along with a standard greeting such as "Dear Mr./Mrs.". There are fewer contractions in a formal letter and you are usually expected to use full sentences.
The content of an informal letter can be more personal while still remaining friendly. It often starts with a casual opener such as "Hey" or "Hi" followed by short paragraphs. Contractions are generally used liberally and there is no need for elaborate salutations or closings.
The difference in a voice used
The formal letter is written in a more professional & active voice. The informal letter can be written using a passive voice, which sends an image of closeness between sender and receiver.
There are no hard rules regarding the difference between formal letters and informal letters because there are just so many different types of communication that exist! However, if you're ever stuck trying to determine whether your message should be sent out formally or informally then just follow this easy formula: If it concerns work at all, use a formal tone; otherwise stick with casual language for anything personal or social.
Comparison Chart: Formal Vs Informal Letters
|Parameters||Formal letters||Informal letters|
|Sent to||Professionals||Family & friends|
|Format||Strict format||No prescribed format|
|Length||Usually short||Usually long|
|Contractions||Used sparingly||Used widely|
What are some tips to keep in mind when writing these letters?
In general, remember these key tips when deciding which type of letter to write:
- A formal letter should be typed out on quality paper using proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- An informal letter can be handwritten or typed on regular paper with normal language use. However, you should still avoid using profanity in an informal letter to prevent offending the recipient!
- Use simple language in an informal letter.
- When addressing the recipient, use "Dear" for a formal letter or no salutation at all for an informal letter.
- In a formal business setting, it is common to include a courteous ender such as "Sincerely, Your Name"
- End your letter with a complimentary close such as "Best Wishes," "Regards," etc.
- Formal letters are typically used in more professional settings (business, job applications, important correspondences) while informal letters can be used for personal reasons (greetings, thank you's, condolences).
Formal letters are less personal and more formal while informal letters can be a bit more casual. If you want to write an effective letter, choose the appropriate tone for your audience! Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to writing good business correspondence.
For example, some people may prefer a formal tone in their work environment while others might enjoy reading an informal letter from time to time. In order to write great correspondences of any kind, remember that you should always focus on how your readers will react rather than what the "rules" say about which style is better or worse.