IELTS General Writing Task 1: Types of Letters
What type of letter should I write?
In Writing Task 1 (IELTS General), there are three types of letters:
- formal letter
- semi-formal letter
- informal letter (also known as personal letter)
Here you will learn how to identify the type of letter you are asked to write and what beginnings-endings and tone of letter you should use. You'll also see relevant sample letters under each type.
Before you start writing, it is essential that you fully understand which type of letter you must write.
To outline the main differences between formal, semi-formal and informal letter and also help you decide which letter style you should use, see the following table:
Formal letter & sample
Formal letter is usually written when you need to write to a company or organisation where you don't know the person to who you are writing to. For example, a bank, foreign university.
Common formal letters are: complaints, applications, resignations, making arrangements.
See a formal letter sample: Request Letter
Semi-formal letter & sample
Semi-formal letter is usually written to someone that you know by name and with whom you have a business or professional relationship. So someone you know, but he/she is not a close friend. For example: teacher, trainer, neighbour, landlord, manager, work colleague etc.
The surname should be used when addressing them. The topic of the letter will be more on the formal side as it is usually focused on a problem to solve.
Common semi-formal letters are: invitations, explanations, informative letter (all these could be personal as well).
See a semi-formal letter sample: Complaint Letter
Informal/personal letter & sample
Informal letter is usually written to a friend or a family member or someone you know personally about personal situation.
Common personal letters are: invitations, explanations, informative letter, apology (all these could be semi-formal as well).
See an informal letter sample: Informal Letter