WRITING FORMAL LETTERS
A formal letter is one written in a formal and ceremonious language and follows a certain stipulated format. Such letters are written for official purposes to authorities, dignitaries, colleagues, seniors, etc and not to personal contacts, friends or family.
A number of conventions must be adhered to while drafting formal letters. So let us take a look at a sample format of a formal letter.
Format of a Formal Letter
As we said earlier, a formal letter must follow certain rules and conventions. Such a format helps in relaying the information in a professional way. It must be remembered that there are various such formats for formal letters that people follow. The one explained here is the one most commonly used for formal communication these days.
The sender’s address is usually put on the top right-hand corner of the page. The address should be complete and accurate in case the recipient of the letter wishes to get in touch with the sender for further communication.
The sender’s address is followed by the date just below it, i.e. on the right side of the page. This is the date on which the letter is being written. It is important in formal letters as they are often kept on record.
After leaving some space we print the receiver’s address on the left side of the page. Whether to write “To” above the address depends on the writer’s preference. Make sure you write the official title/name/position etc of the receiver, as the first line of the address.
This is where you greet the person you are addressing the letter to. Bear in mind that it is a formal letter, so the greeting must be respectful and not too personal. The general greetings used in formal letters are “Sir” or “Madam”. If you know the name of the person the salutation may also be “Mr. XYZ” or “Ms. ABC”. But remember you cannot address them only by their first name. It must be the full name or only their last name.
After the salutation/greeting comes the subject of the letter. In the centre of the line write ‘Subject” followed by a colon. Then we sum up the purpose of writing the letter in one line. This helps the receiver focus on the subject of the letter in one glance.
Body of the Letter
This is the main content of the letter. It is either divided into three paras or two paras if the letter is briefer. The purpose of the letter should be made clear in the first paragraph itself. The tone of the content should be formal. Do not use any flowery language. Another point to keep in mind is that the letter should be concise and to the point. And always be respectful and considerate in your language, no matter the subject of your letter.
TYPES OF LETTERS:
- Application letters.
- Business letters.
- Social letters/friendly.
- Letter to the editor.
These are letters written when seeking an employment. They are very important as they help the applicants to secure the employment. And since they concern your career, they should be given sufficient attention and thought.
Application letters are generally one page at most in length and have a standard format.
The first paragraph explains which job you are applying for and how/where you heard about it.
The second paragraph briefly describes your most relevant qualifications and/or experience.
The third paragraph explains why you want the job and why you think you would be good at it.
The final paragraph says how you can be contacted and/or when you are available for an interview.
Never write your name at the top of the letter.
THE OPENING STATEMENTS IN APPLICATION LETTERS
In responses to your advertisement for the post of………………………………………..
I have come to know through a reliable source that you urgently need the services of a receptionist.
I wish to apply for the post of Sales Representative, advertised in the Daily News of 23rd July 2017.
I have the honor to apply for the post of Purchase office advertised in yesterday’s Sunday News.
I have the honor to respond to your advertisement of yesterday’s Majira Newspaper for the post of Human resource officer.
With reference to the Guardian Newspaper of 5th August, I would like to apply for the post of Assistant lecture at your University.
CLOSING STATEMENTS APPLICATION LETTERS
If offered this job, I would do my best to win your confidence through hard and sincere work.
I look forward to hearing soon from you.
I wonder if you would kindly give me an opportunity to present my candidature in detail in person.
I look forward to an early interview at your convenience. Yours faithfully.
I look forward to hear from you soon, and to be given an opportunity to present my credentials in interview. Yours faithfully.
OTHER USEFUL EXPRESSIONS IN FORMAL LETTERS
– Further to my later of 25th November 2017.
– Perhaps you would be kind enough to let us know……………..
– I enclose with this letter copies of my certificates.
– We note from your letter of 2nd January 2015 that………….
– We are wondering whether……………..
E.g. We are wondering whether you have perhaps concentrated too much on the academic aspects of the matter.
– We trust that…………….
E.g. We trust that the payment will be made before the end of this month.
– Hoping to hear from you soon…………….
– Thank you once again…………………….
– A waiting an early reply……………..
– Looking forward to hearing from you soon…………..
FORMAT OF OFFICIAL/FORMAL LETTER
Mazinyungu Secondary School,
P.o. box 23416
11th August 2015.
The Class Master,
Form Three Girls,
HEADING OF THE LETTER.
E.g. RE: FAILURE TO SIT FOR ENGLISH TEST.
BODY OF THE LETTER.
I am writing to form you that I was not able to sit for the last week announced English test. I was very sick suffering from Malaria and I had to attend the medical check – up.
An application letter regardless of their purpose, consist of the following parts or elements:
Writer’s/ sender’s address – this is written on top right hand corner. This part is also called a letterhead.
Date – (this is under a sender’s address), it shows the date of the letter i.e. the day in which the letter was written.
Reference number (= if any) on right hand side below the date.
Receiver’s / sender’s address – this is written on left hand corner /side. It consists of the name or title of the person, place of business or any place where the letter is intended to reach.
The salutation; this is the greeting that begins the letter. Use dear Sir/Madam if you write to someone whose name you don’t know i.e. he or she is not known to you.
Heading; it should be very brief starting with RE: or REF:-the heading should carry a message (theme of the letter. It should be capital letter and underlined it if is handwritten but do not underline if it typed, bold it.
Body /message -it contains the message or the information of the letter. It is most important part which requires good flow of ideas and well punctuated.
Complementary close. -it consists of the words of respect to show the feeling of the writer of the letter towards his/ her correspondent / receiver of the letter. It should also relate with the salutation.
Signature of the writer.
Full name plus the name of the company, office or firm which the writer represents, written at an extreme end of letter. Although sometimes a company name may be written above the letter.
EXAMPLES OF APPLICATION LETTERS.
P. O BOX 12567,
Dar es Salaam.
13th March 2018.
Magae Language Institute
P. O. BOX 60435,
RE: APPLICATION FOR THE POST OF A TRANSLATOR.
I have come to know through a reliable source that you urgently the services of some translators and interpreters.
I am 30 years of age with Bachelor’s degree from the University of Dar es salaam and presently employed with Top Travel ₰ Tours as an interpreter and translator. My main job here is to work as a guide – interpreter with foreign tourists and visitors especially from Asia, Europe and America.
I can read, write and speak fluently Chinese, English, French and Japanese. I have obtained a degree in translation and Interpretation of these languages from the University of Dar es salaam. I have also translated the book of “Houseboy” from French into English and Japanese languages and this has been acclaimed as a creative work of translation.
Although my present employers are fully satisfied with my work and conduct, but I realize that here is no opportunity for creative translation and further promotion. As I am keenly interested to upgrade my career, especially in creative translation, I have decided for a change.
I would be glad to provide you a couple of excellent references at the time of interview. I look forward for an early interview so that the matter may be discussed in detail and I may put before you other relevant data in regard to my long experience and expertise in the line.
- Write a letter to the General Manager of Mbeya Cement Company Ltd., P.O.Box 400, Mbeya on a vacancy for secretary. Say you are ready to work as a secretary. Your address is 14, Songwe – Mbeya.
SONGWE – MBEYA.
20th October 2016.
The General Manager,
Mbeya Cement Company L.T.D,
Dear Sir/ Madam,
REF: APPLICATION FOR SECRETARIAL VACANCY
Please kindly refer to the caption above,
I am humbly writing to apply for the above mentioned post which was advertised on the Sunday Nation of 28th September, 2017, I am very much interested in it and I believe that I have the necessary qualities to excel in the job.
I am an active Tanzanian young man aged 25 years old. I finished my Form Four education at Vuchama Islamic Seminary in the year 2010 where I passed with division three in my National examinations. Then after, I joined Barongo Junior College where I took short secretarial courses and worked at Bi Kirembwe Institute as a Secretary for one year.
After having worked for one year, I later joined the University of Dodoma for further studies pursuing Diploma in Secretarial Management and graduated last year with G.P.A of 3. 5.
My core identifying features are self motivated, cooperative, punctual and confident in nature. I am good at computer literacy especially programs like Ms words, Excel, Power point with a very good typing speed.
Your wonderful performance as a leading Cement Company in the country is what has impressed me to apply for this post plus the fact that I am always interested in working under challenging environment.
If I am given this chance, I hope to take the company at a more advanced stage of success that it had never experienced before. I hope my application will meet your positive consideration and I am eagerly looking forward to hearing from you soon. Enclosed with this letter are the copies of my academic certificates. Don’t hesitate to contact me at any time for more information.
A monthly test results of Form Three showed there was a miserable failure among the students particularly English subject. This fact makes the Subject teacher furious. Write him a letter of apology and commitment that you will perform wonders in the coming exams. Your teacher’s address is Ahlulbayt Islamic Seminary, Department of English, P.O.Box 137 Kigoma Sign your name as Asinjo/Wanjiro.
Ahlulbayt Islamic Seminary,
13th April 2015.
Ahlulbayt Islamic Seminary,
Department of English,
RE: REGRETFUL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF FAILURE
I am extremely sorry that I could not keep my promise which I previously made to you the very first day I joined this class. We had so many wonderful plans together which could bring the sweet fruits of academic excellence. It is from this meeting when I gave you a promise of performing wonders in my form three exams.
Sir, I really don’t know how to express my regrets and remorse for my poor performance in my monthly test in general and English subject in particular. Actually the results shocked me a lot and I couldn’t bring myself to believe what happened to me. The simple word I can say is “I can hardly believe it” I really wonders how it happened. I remember I had been an exceptional student and have scored uniformly so well in form two class.
As for now, the reason why I have such a poor and disgusting performance in my monthly test may be the fact that I had been too busy for nothing. I had very poor preparation before the exams, I did not have my individual time table, no group discussion and I used to spend most of my time chatting with my friends over internet. When my father saw my results, he was as fierce as a mad dog. He reproached me for two hours and he nearly split my head in two.
Sir, I have now come back to my sense, I have realized my mistake and made up my mind now. To prove my words, I have decided to join the school camp and I have already formed the group discussions with my classmates. For now on, my aim is to study very hard so as to get distinction in all my future exams. This is because I now have come to believe the English saying which reads “Make hay, while the sun shines”
In as few words as it takes, I again want to underline the fact that the above unexpected turn of events which prevented me from keeping my promise with you, never will they have any room to me.
I wish there were better word than sorry to express my deep feelings of regret for my betrayal and disappointment. I hope you will understand and forgive me since you are as forgiving as Uncle Araali in the Passed like a shadow, the very interesting novel you taught us in the class.
Your obedient and lovely student,
The Managing Director of T.T.C.L Company P.O.BOX 200 Kigoma is looking for a form four leaver to apply for the account clerk post. You as a form four lever apply for the above post. Use your name as Benjamin Miliwato of P.O.BOX 150 Tanga.
The Managing Director,
RE: APPLICATION FOR A POST OF ACCOUNT CLERK
The heading above is much concerned.
I am a boy Tanzanian citizen aged 22 years old with a Certificate in Business Administration and excellent skills in Accounts.
I am with honor to apply for the post of Account clerk in your esteemed institution as was advertised in The Citizen of 26th February, 2015.
I have enclosed my CV, copies of certificates, and contacts of my referees for your ready reference.
I hope my application will be positively considered.
Write a letter to the Managing director, The Big T company L.T.D, P.O.Box 090 Mwanza. Apply for the post of an accountant as it was advertised in the Sunday News of 21st April, 2014. Sign your name as Mchapakazi bora (Your address is P.O.Box 372 – Mji Mpya, Dodoma).
7th June, 2014
The Managing director,
The Big T Company L.T.D,
RE: APPLICATION FOR THE POST OF AN ACCOUNTANT.
In response to your advertisement for an accountant in the Sunday News of 21st April, 2014, I wish to apply as a candidate for this post.
I am a young and energetic person of 20 years of age with credits in Book-keeping, Commerce and Mathematics in my ‘O’ Level examination. I have already some experience as an assistant accountant as I worked with Barongo Enterprises Company Ltd., Dar es Salaam for a period of over a year on part time basis.
However, I had to leave the job on account of some family circumstances. I have also done typing course and possess a certificate with grade A in typing and possess a typing speed of 50 words per minute. My former employers would be glad to give a reference for me.
If offered this job, I would do my best to win your confidence through hard and sincere work.
I look forward to hearing soon from you.
1. Write a letter to the Managing director, The Big T company L.T.D, P.O.Box 090 Mwanza. Apply for the post of an accountant as it was advertised in the Sunday News of 21st April, 2014. Sign your name as Mchapakazi bora (Your address is P.O.Box 372 – Mji Mpya, Dodoma).
2. The Managing Director of T.T.C.L Company P.O.BOX 200 Kigoma is looking for a form four leaver to apply for the account clerk post. You as a form four lever apply for the above post. Use your name as Benjamin Miliwato of P.O.BOX 150 Tanga
3. Imagine that you have just finished your first degree course in Agriculture and you wish to seek a job at Clove Plantation Company, P.O.Box 2109 Pemba. Write a letter to the Manager, asking for a post of Agricultural officer. Sign your name as Pendo Kipingo.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
A letter to the editor is a letter sent to a publication about issues concerning from its readers, Letters are intended for publication. In many publications, letter to the editor may be sent either through conversational mail or electronic mail.
Writing a letter to the editor is often the easiest way to get your message in print and the letter pages of some publications are often the most widely read sessions of publications. A letter is usually written to educate the reader or to make them look at an article published in the news paper or magazine in different way.
In general, a letter to the editor is published if the writer:
1. Wants to present expert opinions or additional information on something published earlier.
2. Has been offended by something published in the paper.
3. Disagree with something that was published.
4. Wants to offer an interesting opinion about different news events
5. To complain about something.
The format of writing this letter can be a bit different from what one has experienced to. It is unique though it is a kind of official letter. The name and address of the writer is written at the bottom of the letter while addressee is written on top immediately after the date.
Normally letters which are sent to the news papers are addressed to the editor, information follows the addressee. The proper form of salutation is dear sir or madam and rerally Dear Sir though in some situations, the writer can address the editor as Sir or Dear Madam or can just write Dear Editor.
The heading of what intended to be addressed is written below salutation. Then the writer has to deal with the main body where he/she has present including suggestions, opinions, disagreements or support.
The letter may refer to an article, editorial opinion or column in the publication. Alternatively, the letter may comment on a public statement or a recent news event.
FORMAT OF A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
14th June 2017.
The Daily News,
P. O . Box 338899,
Dar es Salaam.
Re; DRASTIC MORAL DECAY IS A SOCIAL DISEASE.
5. INFORMATION (The content of the letter).
6. Your name and
P.O. BOX 123
FORMAT ON HOW TO WRITE THE LETTER TO THE EDITOR.
The letter to the editor must be written using the following format
- The date from which the letter was written. This appears on the top right hand corner of your letter.
- Sendee’s address/receiver’s address: This appears on the top left hand corner of the letter. Example,
P.O. Box 1111,
LETTER TO EDITOR – SAMPLE I.
18th May 2017.
THE SUNDAY NATION,
P.O. BOX 2000,
DAR ES SALAAM.
SCARCITY OF DRINKING WATER.
Through the columns of your newspaper, I wish to draw the attention of the Municipality Corporation of Dodoma to the scarcity of drinking water in our district. The problem becomes severe in the summer season. But this summer, it has become very acute.
A lot of water is needed in every household in such season. But for the last two months the residents of our district have been facing great scarcity. We get water supply only for one hour in the morning and one in the evening. This is not sufficient to meet the needs of even a moderate size family. During these two hours of water supply also, the pressure of water is also, the pressure of water is so low that it does not reach even the first floor of a house.
Thus, people are having a tough time during this summer. Sometimes people have to go without bath for two or three days in a stretch. The Municipal Corporation is requested to pay urgent attention to the inconvenience of the general public and ensure better and regular water supply.
Thanks in advance,
P.O. BOX 4563,
30th September 2017.
TANZANIANS SHOULD INVEST MORE IN AGRICULTURE
Tanzania is a country whose economic activities to a large extent depend on agriculture. More than half of people earn their living through agricultural activities.
Recently, it has been experienced, the fleeing of people from rural areas to big cities looking for jobs in industries and other sectors. Several factors have been mentioned leading to this including the changes in climatic condition which leads to shortage of rainfall.
Other factors have been connected to globalization where by foreign investors largely focus on industrialization and companies whose major product are not surely focused on crops from farms but sometimes products from outside the country.
Another is lack of constant and trusted market value from outside which leads to price fluctuation. This has discouraged most farmers and hence leaving on the hands of the leading government.
The government should take appropriate measures on this matter including educating its citizens and assist them by cutting down the price. It should be born in mind that Agriculture is the backbone of the national development.
RE: TIME MANAGEMENT IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Sir/Madame it is high time steps should be taken to all private schools on student’s time management. Most of them are over working the students by the preparation of a timetable which is not giving a student time to rest, for example in a certain school instead of periods having 40 minutes for a single period and 80 minutes for doubles, it 1 hour and two hours instead and no of periods are still the same.
I hope the public, parents and government as education stakeholders can make changes through this writing.
Major Parts of Formal/Official letters
Sender’s address and date
Addressee’s address below the reference number U.F.S, if it has to be signed by a certain officer/Person, for forwarding.
Formal salutation i.e. Sir/Madam
The introductory sentence e.g. a reference to a former announcement, letter, or newspaper.
Curriculum Vitae (CV) Purpose of your application i.e. for national building. Referees (at least 3) i.e. someone who can furnish personal information about you.
Closing remarks like your faithfully Signature. Full name and title.
Example of Request Letter
A REQUEST LETTER
Order Letters: (The Full Block Form)
P. O. BOX 420,
REF: ORDER FOR 20 DOZEN OF BATIK
I shall be grateful if you will send me by Kilimanjaro Express Bus Service, 20 Dozen of Batik made in Tanzania particularly by China and Tanzania Friendship Textile Industry, “URAFIKI” as early as Possible.
Customer have created trust on me and I hope you shall do your best for the betterment of both sided. Sending this month will be more appropriated and appreciable.