How do you write a letter? Is it a dead art?

A sad fact - most people do not know how to write a simple letter.

Have things like google mail, e mail, text etc killed the practice of writting a letter? Are we witnessing the death of ordinary mail? Do people today still learn the art of letter writing? I picked up my newspaper today and was shocked by one of the articles inside. It said that around a fifth of children in the United Kingdom have never received a handwritten letter. A tenth had never written one themselves. Yes, that's right a tenth! A tenth did not know how to write a letter.

Most of them could send an e-mail using google mail or something like that and they could all text or play text twist and maybe that’s all they are going to need to be able to do in today’s world.

I just think that it’s sad that so many of them will never know the simple pleasure of opening an envelope and reading something that someone has taken time and put some effort into writing. It all has to be done in a flash.

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How to write a letter.

There are a few simple rules to follow if you want to improve your letter writing skills.

*Place your address in the upper right hand corner of your letter.


*Leave two lines and then include the date.


*If you are writing a letter to a close friend or family member then open with, for example, Dear Amy or Dear grandma.


*Close a friendly letter with Love from.


*A semi- formal letter should open with Dear Mr Brown and close with Yours truly or Kind regards.


*A formal letter should start with Dear Mrs Webb or Dear Sir or Madam if you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to.


*A formal way of ending a letter would be to close with one of the following- Sincerely, Best regards, Thank you.


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Unless you are writing a very informal letter then you should try to keep sentences and paragraphs within the body of the letter short, with a line break to make the letter easier to read. Always check your spelling and grammar. Get someone else to proof read important letters for you, it is very easy to re-read the same mistakes over and over again and keep missing them.

Pen and paper.

Time and effort is needed to write a handwritten letter.
Time and effort is needed to write a handwritten letter.

Set an example.

Do children today open a birthday card and read the words, or do they just check to see if there’s any money inside? Maybe sitting children down to write a scribbled thank you note to Aunt Betty isn’t enough anymore, maybe we as parents should spend a little time showing our kids how to write a proper letter, if indeed we know how to do it ourselves.

I myself am always a bit unsure how to end a letter, is it yours faithfully, or yours sincerely?Do we still write dear Sir/Madam, or to whom it may concern? Where does the address go, at the top right, the top left, or at the bottom? Follow the rules above and you won't go far wrong.

Maybe letter writing should be a skill routinely taught in all schools, and it is a skill. It tells someone reading the letter, be it a social thing or a job application, that the writer has taken the time to learn how to do something properly.

Of course, in an age where the quick fix is the norm, it is much easier to text or e-mail. Maybe that’s why sending and receiving a handwritten letter is so special, it takes time and effort. It’s a very personal thing, something to treasure.

I still have letters that my friends sent me when I was in my twenties, I keep them in a box with pictures, ticket stubs for movies we went to see and other mementoes.Will our children, years from now, open up a box and take out print outs of e-mails or re-read their text messages, I think not.

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Get out the pen and paper.


Another interesting fact that emerged from the recent study was that boys are twice as likely as girls never to have written a letter. Maybe boys consider letter writing a girly thing, I don't know. Of those girls that have written a letter most of them only managed a paragraph or two. It’s not that long ago when it was considered a waste of time and effort teaching girls how to read and write at all.

Women fought long and hard for the right to an education, did they do all that just so that a couple of generations later teenage girls could text RUOK. CRT. SYL. LUVU. To each other? I hope not. Let's all get out the pens and paper and start writing!

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How important is letter writing?

Do you think that letter writing is an important skill that everyone should possess?

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Comments 5 comments

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

I think it begs us, those of us who remember how it's done, to sit down and write a real letter every now and again. To anyone. A sister, a brother, especially a niece or a nephew. As a kid I remember greatly anticipating a letter from Grandma or Grandpa, or when my dad was out at sea serving this fine country, getting a letter from him from some far away exotic place.

The art only dies if we let it.


GALAXY 59 profile image

GALAXY 59 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

That is just what I did as soon as I had finished writing this hub. I wrote a letter to one of my cousins who lives the other side of the country. I hope she enjoys reading it as much as I did writing it.I agree with you about the thrill of anticipation, the joy or receiving something tangible in the mail.

Let's not let the art die.


Writer 6 years ago

Galaxy 59, I find it very amusing that you are shocked by a newspaper article regarding the lack of letter writing in children.

As a child I cannot remember writing letters until I was about 15 years old when I started to bombard would be employers about possible vacancies. It was my father who instilled in me good letter writing which has lasted throughout my adult life.

In today's IT age where children have access to computers to do all of their school and homework, it seems that a pen and paper are foreign objects to be avoided at all costs. When someone sends and receive text messages via their mobile phones, it's understandable not to bother too much to get the grammer nor spelling correct. However, there's no excuse when composing an Email or posting comments on a forum site. Sadly, it appears that most people have no idea what a spell check does!

Far too many times have I read posts on various forums where the grammer and/or spelling is atrocious. I'm not talking about the differences between British & American English spelling but rather the juvenile dribble that passes as the norm these days. Woe betide anyone who points out such poor spelling as they are often shot down in flames.

Apparently it's preferable to be a poor speller than not to bother to compose an Email or post in the first place.

However, what I find most surprising are the more mature posters on networking sites such as Facebook, some whom I attended school with. I know that we were taught English so most can spell correctly but they suddenly morph into illiterate teenagers whenever they post comments. Perhaps they are all after some "street cred!"

Sadly, the art is destined to die.


Writer 6 years ago

Well I'm amazed.

This is the first time that I've posted a message of any kind on any message board where I've left intended spelling mistakes and no one has instantly corrected me. WOW!

There's still hope for all.


GALAXY 59 profile image

GALAXY 59 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

I would consider that to be the height of rudeness!I am beyond thankful that no one here has taken it upon themselves to correct you. We are a respectful bunch here at Hub pages, thank goodness. Now, if you do need help with spelling and grammer and ask for it I am sure that people will be more than willing to lend a hand.

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