How to Space, Format & Write a Friendly Letter
The friendly letter differs from other types of letters in format and content. For example, because the purpose is more casual, not as much identifying information is provided at the top of a friendly letter compared to a business letter. However, though the tone may be quite casual and familiar, specific spacing and formatting guidelines still dictate the way a friendly letter is placed on the page.
The person receiving your letter may want to write a letter in return and may not have your address. Providing your return address is a good idea for this reason and also provides a convenience for the receiver. The heading, like other letter parts, have specific spacing and content requirements. Place the heading in the upper right-hand corner, indented 3 inches from the left margin. Write your street address or P.O. box on the first line; city, state and zip code on the second line; and date on the third line of the heading.
Salutation or Greeting
In this part of the letter, say hello to your reader. Unlike the business letter that must start with a formal salutation such as "Dear Sir or Madam," this letter begins with a casual greeting as simple as the word "hello." It often starts with the word “Dear” but may begin with “Greetings,” "Hi" or “Hello” followed by a name or generic noun such as "friend." Between the heading and salutation, skip two lines. Align the salutation to the left margin. Capitalize the first letter as well as any names used, and place a comma after the last word.
The body contains the information or news you wish to communicate. In it, chunk the contents into organized paragraphs that help the reader understand your thoughts. After skipping two lines between the salutation and body, align the text to the left and start the body of your letter. Indent the first word of the first paragraph and all subsequent paragraphs.
It is a good idea to inquire about the well-being and activities of your reader in the first paragraph as a means of reconnecting with your acquaintance. Start a second paragraph, and share your purpose for writing along with any details that your reader may need to know. Before ending the body of the letter, conclude with a statement of well wishes or hopes for a return correspondence.
A Closing and Signature
You will want to say good-bye to your acquaintance. Between the body and closing, skip another two lines. Indent the closing 3 inches and align it to the heading. Write a closing sentiment such as “Love” or “Sincerely” using a capital letter and followed by a comma. If the closing contains two words, such as “Very truly,” capitalize only the first word. Directly beneath the closing sentiment, place your signature.
Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."