How to Write a Letter to Your Friend

Texting and instant messaging are common ways of communicating with friends these days, but writing a letter is a traditional, effective way of bringing a smile to someone’s face. Whether you write a letter using email or mail it the old fashioned way, the form is the same: a friendly letter should include a salutation, inquiries about your friend, news about your life and an appropriate closing.

Whether children and teens miss friends who’ve moved away or want to keep in touch with family while traveling, letter writing is the key to ongoing communication. Invite young adults to write letters to classmates, postcards from travels, and e-mails to family and friends.  There are endless possibilities for this type of communication!

Bold Bordered Postcards Send your quick hellos and short reminders on these boldly bordered postcards with matching personalization. Size: 5 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ Border & Ink Colors: Red, Blue or Green

Two Color Correspondence Cards Let your creativity flow with these two color correspondence cards.  Choose one ink for the border and your last name, and a second for your first name. Optional printed envelopes available

What will you write about in your letter?

Tell your friend about something fun you recently did.

Congratulate your friend on a job well done for a recent accomplishment.

Ask you friend some questions.

Share about a place you visited.

Ask for advice.

Tell about a book you’ve just read that you think your friend would also enjoy.

A friendly or personal letter has five main parts

Heading: Includes the address and the date. In some cases, it is OK to just write the date.

Greeting: The greeting usually starts with ‘Dear’ and is followed the person’s name and then a comma.

Body: After skipping a line, you begin the body of your letter which is the main text of your letter. Indent for each new paragraph.

Closing: The closing includes a short capitalized expression such as ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Love’ and is followed by a comma. Skip a line after the body before writing your closing.

Signature: You sign your name beginning directly below the closing.

Beginning the Letter

Date the letter. If you’re taking the trouble to write a letter by hand, it’s nice to add a date on the top left corner of the paper. Many people save letters for years to come, and they like to be able to see what day and year it was written to reminisce about earlier times. Write out the date – for example, “May 7, 2013″ – or abbreviate it using only numbers indicating the month, day and year.

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Write a salutation. At the beginning of a letter, whether it’s handwritten or in the form of an email, is called a salutation. That’s where you address the person to whom you’re writing by name – for example, “Dear Emily” or “Hello, Skylar.” Think about the nature of your relationship with the letter recipient, as well as your own preferences and style, and choose your greeting accordingly.

If you tend to like to write in a slightly formal style, using “Dear” in your salutation is a nice choice. It sounds typical, but think about it: calling someone “dear” is actually very sweet, and indicates that you care about him or her. However, you don’t have to read into it; “dear” is as appropriate for a letter to your best friend as it is for a letter to an acquaintance you just met.

For a letter that is more casual in tone, consider beginning it with “Hi, [name]” or “Hello, [name].” This greeting is appropriate for a friend or relative, but don’t begin a business letter this way; it’s a bit too casual.

Write a more personal greeting for someone with whom you are intimate, or want to be. For example, “Dearest [name],” “My [name]” or “Sweet [name].”

Be sure to end your greeting with a comma. It is also formally correct to begin the body of the letter on the next line.

Drafting the Body

Begin with some pleasantries. The first paragraph of a friendly letter is usually warm and lighthearted. It’s a way to set the tone of the letter, letting the recipient know that what’s to follow will be more friendly than serious. Use the first few lines to say an extended hello, tell a joke, or reference the season.

“How are you doing?” or “How have you been?” Are common ways to start a letter. Asking a question helps make the letter feel like part of a longer conversation. If you’d like a reply to your letter, feel free to pepper it with questions throughout.

You can use the first paragraph to inquire more deeply about the recipient’s life. For example, “I hope little Julie has been enjoying kindergarten. I can’t believe she’s gotten so big!”

Referencing the time of year is another common letter opening. Think of it as the equivalent to making small talk before you launch into a deeper conversation. For example, “I hope you’ve been having a wonderful fall. The trees in my neighborhood are more brilliant than they’ve ever been before. I think we’re in for a cold winter, though.”

Share news and personal details. Now it’s time to get to the meat of the letter, your purpose for writing it. Why are you opening this correspondence? Do you want to get back in touch with a long lost friend, express to someone that you are missing them, or thank them for helping you out in some way? Be forthright, open, and articulate to communicate your message effectively.

Write about what’s happening in your life. No matter what it says, your letter will probably be appreciated, but the recipient will feel much closer to you (and therefore the letter will be more effective) if it’s revealing. Tell what events have occurred, what emotions you’ve felt, and what plans you have for the future.

Don’t create an airbrushed picture of your life; that defeats the purpose of a friendly letter. Avoid a holiday newsletter-style update; your friend will start skimming to the bottom if you just list everything you’ve accomplished since your last letter. You don’t have to go too deep into your troubles, but try to portray your life realistically.

Be relevant to your friend. What was your friend up to last time you talked? Was she on the verge of breaking up with her boyfriend? Was he in the middle of a difficult season on the soccer team? Follow up by making references and asking questions to show you’re interested in your friend’s life.

You can also discuss topics of mutual interest. Write your thoughts on art, politics, current events, or any other subject that you’d discuss with your friend in person.

Consider suggesting movies you’ve seen that you think your friend would like, or books you’ve read that you want to recommend. Sharing good information is always welcome in letters.

Wrap it up. Write a final paragraph sending your friend or loved one best wishes. The last paragraph is usually lighter in tone than the body, but it should match the general feel of the entire letter. Try to end the letter on a note that will leave your friend with positive feelings.

Reiterate the purpose of the letter. Encourage your friend to write back. If you’d like a response, write “Hope to hear from you soon,” or “Please write back!”

Write a closing. The closing you choose should be in keeping with the feel of your letter, whether it is traditional or more casual in tone. Like the salutation, it should be determined by your relationship with the recipient. Follow the closing by signing your name.

Have It Your Way! Address Labels – Block Initial Personalization:

Single Initial: maximum 3 lines with 22 characters and spaces per line Ink Color: Black, Blue or Wine

Big ‘N Bold Name Address Labels – Block These self-stick big and bold name labels make addressing your envelopes easy. Personalization: 2 lines: Line 1: maximum 16 characters and spaces; Line 2: maximum 45 characters and spaces If you want to write a formal closing, consider “Sincerely,” “Warmly,” or “Best wishes.”

If your letter is more casual in tone, try “Yours,” “Take care,” or “Cheers.”

For a more intimate closing, choose “Love,” “Much love,” or “Thinking of you.”

Consider including a postscript. A postscript, or PS, is often included at the end of friendly letters as a way to add information that isn’t important enough to merit its own paragraph in the body of the letter. You could also write a playful joke, or leave it out altogether. In any case, make sure it matches your letter’s tone and leaves your recipient with the feeling you want him or her to have.

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