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Although letters can be on any topic and have a range of purposes they generally fall into two categories.

Personal letter

Let's look at two key features of personal letter - layout and content


Although there is more than one correct way to write a letter there are some universal rules.

  • even in friendly informal personal letters you must put your address top right
  • date should always be under address
  • opening greeting can use first name only, for example. 'Dear Mum' or Dear Polly'
  • ending can be informal, for example 'Best wishes' or 'Much love', and be followed by your first name only


The content of a personal letter will depend very much on the purpose of the task.

You may be asked to write a letter to -

  • describe an event, place
  • ask for information or a favour
  • persuade someone to do something
  • pass on details or instructions to someone

Whatever the purpose there are some general rules about a personal letter.

  • always remember that you (probably) are supposed to know the person to whom you are writing
  • keep that person in mind and don't tell them things they will already know about you
  • add a few bits of personal chat, usually at the start of the letter, to make it seem genuine
  • make sure main part of letter relates to task and that you use appropriate tone. Don't be bright and cheerful if writing to pass onbad news.
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