A letters is a form of writing used to communicate a multitude of messages. Letters can be sent to employers, businesses, celebrities, family, friends, the government and many others. The content of a letter is entirely based on the context in which the letter was written. If it is a cover letter for a job application that is being written, the letter would contain the merits of the applicant. If the letter is being addressed to a family member, one may include details about their life. The main difference between these two examples is the formality; the cover letter will have a very formal tone and the letter to the family member will be informal.
The first step in writing a letter is to decide who the letter is going to be addressed to and, therefore, how formal the letter should be. If one is addressing a government official or a future employer, then the letter must be formal. If the individual is addressing a friend or relative, the letter can be informal.
The second step is deciding which method of delivery the letter will go by. This will largely depend on the formality chosen in the first step. The options are email (semi-formal/informal) and post (semi-formal/formal). In addition, it would be good at this point to decide if the letter should be typed on a computer or hand-written on paper.
The third step is to begin writing the letter. It is customary that the writer include the date at the top of letter to indicate to the reader how current the letter is. Next comes the salutation (how the writer will address the person they are sending the letter to). Again, this has largely to do with the level of formality the author has chosen. Formal salutations include "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sirs or Madams". Informal salutations are "hey" or "hello". Communicating concisely and effectively by letter is key, as the reader does not want to read pages of information that is not relevant to the point of the letter. The last step is proofreading the letter. It is very important to check for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as checking the content. Once the reader feels that the letter is acceptable, they will sign the bottom of the page to tell the reader who the letter was from. If the letter is being sent by post, the letter will be put inside of an envelope, then posted on the front of it with the reader's address, as well as the author's address in case the letter does not arrive at its destination.
The writing format of a letter is generally less structured because it is not common that two letters are exactly the same. A basic outline of a letter includes an introduction, a body paragraph, a conclusion, then the author's signature.