Formal and Informal Letter: Meaning and Differences

A formal letter differs from an informal letter in that an informal letter is written in a more conversational style, but a formal letter is used when writing to someone of greater social position or authority. In most cases, an informal letter is intended for personal correspondence with family members or friends. In order for you to have a thorough grasp, we will concentrate on some major differences between the two.

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What is a Formal Letter?

An informal letter, which is the type of letter you may write to someone you already know, is one to a friend or family member.

In contrast to a formal letter, which must follow strict guidelines for structure and style, an informal letter is written in a friendlier and more approachable tone.

Informal letters have more latitude in sticking to these rules, and they can take on a variety of various formats. When preparing a formal letter, keep the following points in mind:

  • It must follow the format specified.
  • It should avoid using superfluous words.
  • It should be brief and to the point.
  • It must be both relevant and objective.
  • It should be sophisticated and comprehensive.
  • Even if it is a complaint letter, it should be polite.
  • It should be devoid of grammatical and spelling errors.

Business letters, letters explaining civic problems, and employment applications are the three forms of formal letters.

What is an Informal Letter?

These letters, also known as formal letters, follow a strict set of regulations and follow a specified format. Official correspondence is much more formal in tone and format as compared to more casual or friendly correspondence. There are several reasons why formal letters may be required, including:

As a manner of expressing your concerns in a professional setting, such as a job application or a letter to the Editor of a local newspaper dealing with issues that affect many people.

Key Differences

It is vital to note that formal letters are written professionally, whilst informal letters are addressed more personally. Here are some further variations:

  • In contrast to informal letters, which can be written in any manner, formal letters must follow a specific format.
  • A formal letter should have a formal tone, whereas an informal letter should have a pleasant tone.
    Although professional letters are often written in the first or third person, personal letters can be written from any perspective.
  • Formal letters are brief and to the point; they do not include unnecessary information or ramblings.
  • Formal letters are often typed, whereas informal letters may be written by hand.
  • The sender’s name, address, and phone number are always at the top of a professional letter.
  • Formal letters, unlike informal letters, do not use abbreviations (can’t, don’t, I’ve), slang, or idioms.
  • Informal letters can be as long as you want, although formal letters are usually limited to one page.

Comparison Chart

DefinitionA formal letter is a letter prepared in formal language and structure for an official purpose.An informal letter is one that is written in a friendly manner to someone you know.
GoalProfessional CommunicationPersonal Communication
FormatWritten in prescribed format only.No prescribed format.
Written inFirst person – Business letters, third person – others.First, second or third person.
Written toBusiness, college/institute, employer, organizations, etc.Friends, family, acquaintances etc.
SentencesLong and complexShort and simple
SizeConciseLarge or concise
Contractions and AbbreviationsAvoidedUsed


If you’re not sure what kind of letter to send to an official or someone you merely know professionally, send a formal one. Choose an informal letter when writing a casual letter to someone you know well, such as a coworker.