Formal & Informal Letters

IELTS General Writing Task 1: Acquire Proper Understanding of Formal & Informal Letters

November 28, 2019

When you start practising for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, you will find different scenarios to write a letter. Every letter writing question will have specific instructions, and you have to follow them.

There are different formats of letter writing, and each format requires a different style of writing:

  • Definite starting and closing salutation
  • Formal and informal expressions
  • Various type of grammatical forms

Before you begin with IELTS Writing Task 1 General, you must -

  • Read the given instructions carefully
  • Identify the type of letter
  • Understand the purpose of letter
  • Plan the format of your letter

Take these points into consideration whenever you write a letter to score high in the exam. No matter how well you write, you could lose your score if you forget to consider the mentioned points.

Types of Letter

  • Formal Letter
  • Informal Letter

But, how will you know what kind of letter you must write? It's simple! Identify the purpose and know the types of letter.

Understand The Purpose of The Letter

You can recognize the letter type by checking -

  • What is the situation?
  • Do you know the addressee or not

If you are writing a letter of complaint, signing up the business contract, applying for a new job, resigning from an existing one, or writing to an unknown person, it will always be a formal letter.

Let's take an example for both the letters to understand better

Formal letter

You live in a room in college which you can share with another student. However, there are many problems with this arrangement and you find it very difficult to work.

Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. In the letter

  • Describe the situation
  • Explain your problems and why it is difficult to work
  • Say what kind of accommodation you would prefer

Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Source: Cambridge English

In the above example, there is no name mentioned for the accommodation officer so consider it as a formal letter.

Informal letter

If you are writing a letter for inviting someone you know for a birthday party, thanking a friend or asking for an advice, it is always an informal letter.

In the case of an informal letter, you are aware of the name of the addressee.

Here is an illustration to make you clear about informal letters.

A friend has agreed to look after your house and pet while you are on a holiday.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

  • Give contact details for when you are away
  • Give instructions about how to care for your pet
  • Describe other household duties

Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ��.,

Source: British Council

Once you know the purpose of the letter and its type, you can start writing the letter with proper salutation.

Use Appropriate Salutation

Depending on the style of your letter, the opening and closing salutations vary.

Style of Letter Opening Closing


Dear Sir/Madam,

Yours faithfully,

John Brown


Dear Alexa,

Best Wishes,

Steve Stone

After the opening salutation, write an opening statement which explains the reason for writing the letter.

Start With a Suitable Opening Statement & End with a Proper Signing Off Statement

Again opening and signing off statement differ based on the letter style.

For example,

Style of Letter Opening Statement Closing Statement


I am writing this letter to ask if I could please be given another room in college.

I look forward to hearing from you.


I hope you are doing well. I'm writing to ask you a favour. I'm not in the town for few days. So, it would be great if you look after my house and pet as well.

It'll be pleasure to catch up again soon. Give my best to everyone in the family.

Plan Well to Write Your Letter

Writing a letter with proper planning is essential as it will definitely help you to achieve a high Band Score in the IELTS Exam.

The IELTS General Writing Task 1 will consist instruction of three bullet points as seen in the shared example. Always cover these 3 points to make a good structure of the letter.

So, here is a letter structure that you must follow.

Opening Salutation

Opening Statement

Paragraph 1 - 1st bullet point

Paragraph 2 - 2nd bullet point

Paragraph 3 - 3rd bullet point

Signing Off Statement

Closing Salutation

Though letter writing task may look easy for most of the IELTS aspirants, it is still considered to get familiar with formal and informal letter writing.

Practice IELTS letter writing with sample questions and keep track of your progress.

To help you in this, IELTS Tutorials offer Writing Correction Service. IELTS expert will assess your writing tasks and give you their valuable feedback. Strengthen your strong skill areas and achieve the perfect score in the IELTS exam.

IELTS Tutorials Exam Practice App