Having to write a formal letter to an authority is a much more common occurrence than you might think.
You may need to write to an institution, an international organisation or an authority to report a problem, make a complaint, ask for information, bid for a tender or for many other reasons.
Even the most successful professionals may feel awkward and unsure how to start when faced with a blank page. There are, however, a number of easy guidelines that enable everyone to write a successful formal letter.
Here are three tips on how to write an appropriate letter to an authority:
A piece of writing should always be clear to the reader. Formal writing does not have to be complicated or verbose. To ensure it is legible, take care over the following:
Clarity depends on using the appropriate vocabulary and syntax: choose the right words to express the concept and write them in a logical sequence that reflects the underlying thought or action.
Cohesion refers to consistency both within a document and as regards its context: always use the same words to express the same concepts within a text, and be consistent with other similar texts.
Accuracy means writing in a style that avoids ambiguity and generalisations, adapting the text to the type of message being sent and the addressee.
This last point is particularly important when addressing the authorities, which often use specialist jargon and language with particular connotations, aspects you will need to take into account when writing.
Letter writing conventions
Follow the style guidelines below when writing a formal letter:
Professional revision and proof-reading
When writing a particularly important letter or dealing with specialist issues (legal matters), it is advisable to have it revised and corrected, if not drafted, by a professional.
Proof-reading is a profession. A professional proof-reader or reviser will have all the language skills and expertise needed to identify and resolve problems in a text.
To optimise the proof-reader or reviser’s time and work, it is best to:
By following these brief guidelines, you can overcome the obstacle of a blank page and write a successful formal letter.