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Old Fashioned Letter Writing: Do people write letters anymore?

Updated on April 26, 2013
Old Fashioned Letter Writing. Do People Write Letters Anymore?
Old Fashioned Letter Writing. Do People Write Letters Anymore?

Are the days of putting pen to paper and handwriting a letter obsolete? Does old fashioned letter writing still exist?

These days, the invention of smart phones, iphones, ipads and the humble old computer are giving people faster options of sending friends, colleagues and loved ones messages.

It could be said that the problem with letter writing is that is that it is far too time consuming. Yet on the other hand, people will say that they appreciate receiving a hand-written note.

Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of technology, everyone will have to write a letter at some point. Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, handwriting skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing and structuring letters. Don't let this classic old-fashioned art fade.


Can the new generation of children spell?

Automatic spell checkers, text message abbreviations and newly-formed slang is surely going to cause a whole new generation of people who cannot spell for themselves and who do not know how to manually search through the humble dictionary.

Personally I send e-mails. They are so much quicker to type up (particularly if you can touch type) and you can correct the spelling and edit the format in a way you can't do with hand writing. Once you make an error on a hand-written letter, unless you are a fan of liquid paper (white out), or crossing out a word, the only option is to start again. How frustrating! There is no backspace button!

Hav u eva knoticed tat peeple carnt spel enemore? I woz just aksing.

Just kidding.

Wouldn't it be horrible if this was the norm?

Whilst we are brought up to learn how to spell correctly, and politely correct people who make errors, there are some occasions when a spelling error is to our advantage. How? Misspelled items on eBay. Take a look.

You will be pleasantly surprised.

I recently came across a page on facebook called the Letter Writing Challenge. A mum in Melbourne, Australia, established the challenge for her two boys to write one letter per week. The aim was to help with their handwriting skills, one is left handed, but after following this challenge I can see that it has been a far greater challenge in more ways than one.

Ironically after watching the boys online write letters each week, I was fortunate enough to become a part of this challenge myself. To say I was excited to receive a hand-written letter in the mail was an understatement. I don't think I can recall the last time someone wrote me a letter. A 'real' letter. A holiday to Queensland, a photograph of a bearded dragon and a willingness to participate saw me not only receive a fantastic hand-written letter, but also put pen to paper myself and reply. It gave me a real buzz. Read all about my involvement here in my guest blog post on the Letter Writing Challenge website. It all started with a bearded dragon!

Ideas

How about writing a letter today. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Write to a long lost friend
  • Write a letter and include it in a Time Capsule
  • Find a penpal and write a message
  • Write a thank-you letter
  • Write to a grandparent to ask about their childhood
  • Write a letter requesting information on a chosen topic
  • Letters to Santa Claus
  • How about a thank you letter for a gift you have recently received
  • Write a letter inviting someone to come for dinner
  • Letters of complaint
  • Letters to newspapers and magazines
  • And the list goes on

Remember to watch out for those homophones that sometimes trick us all too easily. And if you are looking to add a special zing to your next letter, consider using an onomatopoeia word.

Type of Letters

Letters can be both formal and informal and each has unique characteristics. Depending on the style will determine how components of the letter are penned.

  • How to address the person
  • The Greeting
  • The type of language used
  • How to close the letter
  • The type of paper used

Formal letters

Formal letters, generally used in the business arena or when writing to someone with authority, are prepared with far stricter guidelines and structure.

Thoughts on such structures differ but keep in mind these aspects if you are preparing a formal letter:

  • Use plain white paper, A4 size.
  • Use the title of the recipient - Mr, Miss or Mrs
  • Do not use slang
  • Close the letter with a more formal message such as 'Yours faithfully' or 'Yours sincerely'
  • Sign the letter if possible.

Informal letters

Writing an informal letter gives you much more room for creativity, and depending on the recipient, much more fun can be had.

  • Paper options are introduced here - coloured, patterned or plain
  • Use the recipient's first name (if appropriate)
  • Close the letter with informal messages such as 'Love from', 'See you soon' or 'Thanks again'.
  • Add a photograph or a drawing (for a special occasion)


Tips

  • Determine if you are preparing a formal or informal letter.
  • Make sure your hand writing is neat and legible.
  • Jot down some key notes you would like to include before writing.
  • Double check the address and add a return address on the envelope.

Letters to Santa

Each year, hundreds of children around the world write a letter to Santa Claus, asking ever so politely for that one (or list of ) special toys that they would love to receive.

Why not encourage your children to write to Santa. Maybe you could encourage them to ask Santa some questions about his life in the North Pole. Ask him how his reindeer are? What he likes to eat? There are many companies that exist that send children letters from Santa so why not tie this in together. Get some special writing paper just for this occasion too. Sprinkle red glitter. Make it a fun exercise.

Let's follow in the footsteps of the Letter Writing Challenge and help good old-fashioned letter writing make the come back it deserves. Let's all support Universal Letter Writing Week. Let's encourage our children to use their imagination, improve their hand-writing and create unique letters. This will help to keep letter-writing a lovely tradition.

The sheer enjoyment of sending and receiving a letter via the Letter Writing Challenge changed the way I think. There is definitely something special about putting a letter into a letter box. It shows someone cares and has taken the time to sit down and think about you.

Handwritten letters have a unique charm. You can take time to think about what you want to say. You can keep letters to read again and again. Responding by letter is very different to the immediacy of a text message or an email.

Try it sometime.

All Hubs are Original Material by 'Work At Home Mums' ©

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    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      A wonderful hub and it addresses so many problems of today's communication. Well done and very well written.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you. It makes you think doesn't it.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      It's sad that letter writing is becoming a lost art...this hub has a wealth of information that can benefit us all. Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination. You have my vote!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much vespawoolf :)

    • farmloft profile image

      farmloft 4 years ago from Michigan

      Good writing, voted up. Congrats on your HubNugget nomination.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      thank you farmloft - I am very excited :)

    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 4 years ago from Portland, OR

      Great hub, full of great advice...and congrats on your HubNugget nomination, you have my vote!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much. Appreciate your support.

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub and great ideas. I miss hand-written letters! Voted!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks heaps. So do I. Trust me when you write one and mail it, it will put a smile on your face.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is an excellent hub as I think it is so important for children to learn to communicate by writing properly. I think it should be an important part of their education. Voted up and useful.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you pamela99. Feel free to vote for this article in the hubnugget awards. It is currently up for nomination in the book literature and writing topic. :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Yes this hub has been nominated on the Hubnuggets! To all who would like to support this hub click this link and vote away https://hubpages.com/community/An-Invitation-To-A-...

      I miss writing letters the old fashioned way. Sending snail mail seem to take forever. However, when I write letters I try to remember to be polite and to have proper greetings. Wonderful hub!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much for your support.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Congrats on your hubnugget nomination. This is indeed worthy of recognition. I still love getting letters in the mail. I'm much more likely to read each and every handwritten word than I am when I get an email. I have my kids write letters to their grandparents... I want them to know how to properly write a letter/thank you letter. I knew how to do that at a very early age. I want them to know how at least. Anyway, I voted for your hub... good luck!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much. This hub was inspired by a friend who set up the letter writing challenge for her boys to encourage them to write (amongst other things). You may want to look up her site. I have it linked within the hub but also it is http://letterwritingchallenge.com.au

      You may enjoy reading their experiences. And you may relate to them a little.

      Anyway thanks again for your vote and support.

    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 4 years ago

      Very informative hub , children these days might be hard pressed to find a dictionary or encyclopedia set off line . I still have many letters written by my Great and Grand Mothers of generations past . Letter writing and written communication is very important .

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      What lovely memories those letters could be. I bet the handwriting is gorgeous too. Thank for sharing that. Fingers crossed I win the HubNugget votes too :)

    • leros003 profile image

      leros003 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Very informative! I have fallen a trap to looking at encyclopedias online :)

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Haven't we all :)

    • CheyenneIsaacs profile image

      CheyenneIsaacs 4 years ago from Arizona

      This is brilliant! I'm glad there are other people interested in the proper use of grammar, spelling and writing format. Well done indeed. :D

    • Tusitala Tom profile image

      Tom Ware 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      When I first started to write - as a tiro writer - I did so with a fountain pen. That little bit of drag or resistance to a nibbed pen really adds to the character of one's handwriting. But this was lost when pen and ink was superseded by the ball point.

      However, as a man who was obliged to learn to touch type in the military (without looking or a whack across the nuckles) I was a touch typist at age 18. Yet, even then, I continued with the pen. Until I bought my own Ollivetti Portable. From then on it was typing. First the manual, then the electric and, finally, the electronic keyboard.

      To sit and write this with a pen would have taken me maybe twenty minutes. With a keyboard such as this, a quarter of the time. Hence, the handwriting is now restricted to a few words on birthday and Christmas cards, and perhaps a signature when required.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you ~ I'd love your support in voting for this in the current hubnuggets nominations if you would like to

      https://hubpages.com/community/An-Invitation-To-A-...

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Interesting story and definitely a sign of the times. thanks for sharing

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Yes I do still write letters and encourage my kids to do the same. Nothing is more authentic of the excitement of receiving a hand-written letter in the mail, opening it with full excitement, feeling the letter between your fingers,and having it close to you right before your eyes.

      Thank you for sharing. I'm linking your hub to one of my hubs. Voted and will share. Cheers!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Lovely thoughts. Totally agree. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      lilMissScrittore 4 years ago

      WorkAtHomeMums, I loved this hub! My parents were always making me write hand-written letters as I grew up. I wrote them after getting gifts, I wrote them while my grandparents vacationed in Florida all winter, I wrote them after I got a job interview, I wrote them when I was trying to make a convincing argument. I wrote them all the time. The only time they didn't like it when I wrote them was when I was expressing my distaste for something they had said or done that hurt my feelings, haha. You reap what you sew, yeah? The other reason I love this though, apart from my own relationship with hand-written notes, is that it provides a practical argument about why this art form is hugely important and should not be forgotten. Voted up, awesome, and interesting!

    • pinktaxi profile image

      pinktaxi 4 years ago from Tualatin, Oregon, USA

      I love the "new" electronic way of writing. I do not use spell checkers because I just do not have a need for them, and, besides, they are not always correct. I learned how to spell before there were computers. Thank you to all the great teachers I had as a kid.

      I have found, even in this new age of electronic formats, if you really want to get someone's attention there is nothing better than putting pen-to-paper and mailing a letter to them. Almost everyone will reply in some form of response.

      Using pen-to-paper, now a days, is above and beyond the today's standard forms. It adds that extra special something you will never achieve using electronic mail and/or phone.

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 4 years ago

      10Q 4 the hub. just kir! ttfn

      (You knew someone was going to do this. ?_? )

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      @pinktaxi too true!

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      @lilMissScrittore couldn't agree with you more. thank you for sharing and for your votes.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      I love the hub because I am an advocate for letter writing. I wrote a hub about teaching children to write thank you notes which I will add your hub to as a link.

      I just sat down this morning (saturday) and wrote four quick notecards to four friends. I love receiving mail and really miss that. Rated it up and congrats on your win-well deserved.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much. I will take a look at your hub too. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      It's called: Teaching Children the art of writing thank you notes. I just added your letter writing link to the hub. Thanks.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Wonderful. I'll read your hub. Look forward to it. Thankyou

    • profile image

      Graham 4 years ago

      This was a wonderful hub! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love mailing 'letters' and I love receiving letters'. To me, it's like getting a small gift in the mail. My mother taught me to write letters and throughout my life I have had friends who have moved to other parts of the country so letter writing was perfect for us, especially during college. Sure, they take time, but I've never know anyone that didn't like opening the mailbox and getting a card/letter.

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image
      Author

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Lovely thoughts. You know you are spot on about it being just like a little present. It's a thrill. Let's hope it continues. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Robin71 4 years ago

      I am with you one-hundred percent. I to feel that the art of letter writing is fading fast. I know some teens that can't read cursive handwriting, how sad is that. They can't read it because they don't have to write it. With the Texting shorthand, that I still don't really understand, they seem to be losing out on some really great stuff. Kids don't need books or writing anymore, they have Kendle's, keyboards (even on their phones) and email. Dictionaries-their waiting for the movie.

      I personally believe that's why there is so much more drama in relationships. No one write's "Love Letters" any more. No one writes home to Mom any more. No one writes period, they type. I'm sorry, but I haven't met a computer, gadget or phone that I felt truly loved me.

      Oh, well, that's my soap box rant...what's yours.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      You have written it clearly and neatly. Await more such hubs. Thanks for such a good work.

    • Thoughts of Ally profile image

      Thoughts of Ally 4 years ago from Boston, MA

      I love this hub! Good job!

    • Jenna Kunc profile image

      Jenna Kunc 4 years ago from Colorado

      Love it! I wish writing letters was still a common practice.

    • bastysays profile image

      Basty. 4 years ago from Hell.

      I like writing letters. It's one of my ways to vent, even though I usually don't send them because they contain strong language and they may or may not get me in huge trouble with the law. Great article!

    • profile image

      Jan 2 years ago

      My youngest brother writes letters to several people all the time. He even writes to me and we live in the same town.

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