Differences between Formal and Informal Letters

Formal Letters Informal Letters
Formal letters follow fixed pattern of styles Informal letters have varied patterns of styles
Formal letters are mostly used in working environments like offices Informal letters have very limited usage in working environments
The language of the letter in formal letters is by and large impersonal or work related The language of the letter in informal letters is by and large personal or related to social aspects
Formal letters can have informal tone whilst writing under certain circumstances Informal letters do not have a formal tone as they are meant to express emotions and social communication
Informal words like ‘Gonna’, ‘Wanna’, ‘Dude’, ‘Bro’ etc. cannot be used in formal letters Informal letters are not restricted in language. Slang words and non conventional terminology is acceptable in these letters
A lot of care is taken to write the appropriate Salutations in formal letters 2-3 types of salutations are acceptable for informal letters as there is not much need of formality
Length of the letter is very important and it shouldn’t be too long Length of the informal letters varies depending upon the subject matter
Closing or Complimentary gestures vary in formal letters Closing or Complimentary gestures don’t vary as much in informal letters
Letter Head is a conventional practice in formal letters Letter Head is not a conventional practice in informal letters


Letters can also be categorised as per their purposes. Since most of the letters are written for academic, business, personal and reference purposes they can be categorised in a similar manner

The most common purposes for which letters are written divide them into:

  • Academic Letters – Letters concerned with academic affairs of various academic institutions or pertaining to academics under various capacities are known as academic letters.

    Some of the types of academic letters

    • Announcement Letter
    • Application Letter
    • Leave Letter
    • Recommendation Letter
  • Business Letters – Letters written for purpose related to business and its’ relative processes are known as business letters.

    Some of the types of business letters

    • Acceptance Letter
    • Acknowledgement Letter
    • Adjustment Letter
    • Request Letter
    • Resolution Letter
    • Sales Letter
  • Personal Letters – Letters written for sharing personal information, views, opinions etc. are known as personal letters. They are akin to Informal Letters.

    Some of the types of personal letters

    • Cancellation Letter
    • Condolence Letter
    • Farewell Letter
    • Friendly Letter
    • Get Well Letter
    • Holiday Letter
    • Love Letter
  • Reference Letters – Letters written by an authoritative person for an acquaintance, to introduce the acquaintance to the concerned for employment, admission and/or other objectives. These letters are similar to formal letters.

    Some of the types of reference letters

    • Adoption Reference Letter
    • Business Reference Letter
    • Character Reference Letter
    • Employer Reference Letter / Job Reference Letter
    • Scholarship Reference Letter
    • Teacher Reference Letter



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