Difference Between Formal Letter vs. Informal Letter

Main Difference

The main difference between the formal letter and an informal letter is that formal letters written for official or professional conversation. On the other hand, informal letters used for casual or personal conversation.

Formal Letter vs. Informal Letter

A formal letter is written for professional (official and business) conversation while the informal letter used for personal communication. A formal letter is very specific. It should be short, as clear as possible and use professional language only. An informal letter is a friendly note. It can be as long and as ordinary as you wish. It allows using any writing style, any words, and any punctuation. You are not limited to any templates. Formal letters sent to businesses, companies, employees, organizations, universities, colleges, and firms and informal letters sent to friends and relatives. This type of message meant for people you know well enough to write. Formal letters can be invitation, inquiry, complaint, recommendation letters, etc. and informal letters can be advice, question, request, etc. You have no particular format to follow. Just write out from your heart; make it friendly and emotional. A formal letter follows a strict pattern while an informal letter does not follow a strict format. In a formal letter, we always use captions 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. Formal letters have two addresses. The sender’s address and the recipient’s address. Informal letters require only the writer’s address. Formal letters usually have headed. Informal letters don’t require a heading.

Comparison Chart

Formal LetterInformal Letter
A formal letter is a letter, scripted in the formal talk, in the stated format, for official purpose.A letter written in a friendly way, to someone you known with, is called an informal letter.
Format
Written in prescribed format only.No prescribed format.
Objective
Professional CommunicationPersonal Communication
Contractions and Abbreviations
AvoidedUsed
Written in
A formal letter writes in the First person – Business letters, third person – some others.First person, second or third person.
Written to
Business, college/institute, employer, organizations, etc.Friends, family, acquaintances, etc.
Sentences
Long and complexShort and simple
Size
ConciseLarge or concise

What is a Formal Letter?

A formal letter is usually a letter from one firm to another, or between such organizations and their customers, clients and other outer parties. The overall style of a letter depends on the relationship between the parties concerned. Formal letters can have many types of headnotes, for example, to require direct information or activity from another party, to demand supplies from a supplier, to indicate a mistake by the letter’s recipient, to reply straight to a request, to excuse for a wrong, or to convey goodwill. A formal letter is in some cases useful because it creates a permanently written document, and may be taken more severely by the recipient than other forms of communication. A formal letter is only written in a proper and ceremonious language and follows a certain stipulated format. Such letters written for official purposes to authorities, dignitaries, colleagues, seniors, etc and not to personal contacts, friends or family. Some conventions must be affixed to while formulating formal letters. A formal letter is a request for something meaningful to you. It’s like talking to a higher being asking for important something with respect. Direct to the point, not hurting, not offensive, not too personal. It’s an introduction of yourself since you are a stranger to them, make it short but not too short. Tell them what they need to know but not what you wanted to share. While wording a formal letter, one should keep in mind the following things:

  • It should be in the stated format.
  • It should avert the use of unnecessary words.
  • It should be straight to the issue.
  • It should be related and objective.
  • It should be intricate and thorough.
  • It should be gently, even if it is a complaint letter.
  • It should be free from any flaws, i.e., grammatical or misspelling.

There are three kinds of formal letters, i.e., business letters, letters for outlining metropolitan problems and job applications. It is necessary to remember that there are many such formats for formal letters that people follow the track. The one described here is the one most commonly used for formal communication.

  • Sender’s Address
  • Date
  • Receiver’s Address
  • Greetings
  • Subject
  • The body of the letter
  • Closing the letter
  • Signature

What is Informal Letter?

Informal letters are written to close familiarizes of the writer, their friends, family, relatives, etc. Since they wrote to closed relations, the letters have an informal and personal tone. The casual language used while writing informal letters. And few times the letters may even have an emotional undertone. Informal letters can write according to the writer’s desire and the condition of the situation. So the letter is written in own way in casual, simple language. Informal letters mainly used for internal communication. So they do not have to track any specific pattern, format or conventions but there is a common pattern, some conventions that people usually follow.

  • Address
  • Date
  • Greeting
  • Introduction paragraph
  • The body of the letter
  • Conclusion
  • Signature

Key Differences

  1. A formal letter is one, written in the official language, in the stipulated format, for the official objective. A letter is reportedly informal when written in a friendly manner, to someone you are familiar.
  2. There is a way prescribed for writing formal letters. Conversely informal communication, which does not follow any format.
  3. Formal letters used for writing letters to industry, i.e., partners, suppliers, customers, clients, etc. , college or institute, employer, professionals, etc. on the other hand, we use informal letters for writing letters to friends, relatives, acquaintance, etc.
  4. The sentences we apply at the time of writing a formal letter are, long and complicated. Unlike an informal letter, where we use brief and simple sentences which are easy to interpret.
  5. Formal letters do not contain contraction like (didn’t, can’t) and abbreviations; rather it uses full forms. As compare to informal letters, which makes use of contraction, abbreviation, idioms, phrasal verbs and even slang and colloquial terms.
  6. Formal letters write for official or professional communication. On the other hand, informal letters used for casual or personal communication.
  7. Formal letters usually write in the third person; however, for business letters, the first person is used. On the contrary, informal letters written in first, second and third person.
  8. Whereas writing formal letters, we use passive voice. Conversely, an active and imperative voice used.
  9. The extent of a formal letter should be short; that does not contain irrelevant matter. In contrast, the informal letter can be short or large.

Conclusion

In this way, ahead of beginning writing a letter, in the first place, you should define, Who is your receiver? If you are having an efficient association with the recipient, then you should retrieve a formal letter, whereas if the recipient is a person very close to you or you comprehend the receiver well, then the informal letter is the best decision for you.

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