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How Do You Write a Letter? Is It a Dead Art?

Updated on February 12, 2018

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

Have things such as Google mail, e mail, text , whats app etc killed the once noble art of writing 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 stated that around a fifth of children in the United Kingdom have never received a handwritten letter. A tenth had never written one themselveses. 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.

I can well remember the excitement I felt when an envelope dropped through our front door with MY name on it. It didn't matter who had sent it, only that it had been sent.

Civilized communication.

The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication
The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication
This is a very useful book for anyone wanting to improve their letter writing skills. Easy to understand and very well written, it is a wonderful aid to have to hand when you need a little help composing a note or letter. Would also be very helpful when compiling a job application or CV.

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.

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. A fresh pair of eyes can catch things you might have missed.

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 mementos.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.

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!

How important is letter writing?

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

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