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The Informal Cover Letter and Its Benefits
Table of Contents
Cover letters are indispensable for many professional job applications and can help you sell yourself to your future employer. Writing cover letters can be tedious, reading them even more so, but it does not have to be. An informal cover letter , also known as short cover letters, help break this tedium for job applicants and recruiters.
Keep reading to learn more about informal cover letters , their benefits, and the way to write one the next time you apply!
Types of Cover Letters
There any many types of cover letters for different scenarios. The most well-known is the application cover letter . These types of cover letters are written for specific jobs and should include specific skills and qualifications regarding them.
The second type is the prospecting cover letter. Generally speaking, a prospecting cover letter is best suited to inquiries about open positions at a company you are interested.
Third is the networking cover letter. The networking cover letter is used to ask for career advice and career opportunities.
And finally, we come to the main topic of this article, the informal cover letter .
What is the Informal (Short) Cover Letter?
The informal cover letter is a short cover letter with the purpose of quick introduction . You include information about yourself, your skills, why you are interested in the job, and your personal connection with the company. Short cover letters are for job inquiries that don’t require a formal cover letter.
This cover letter does not have a clear-cut format. Usually, it consists of a greeting, a simple body explaining your experience and your interest in the company.
As a rule of thumb, you should also attach your CV or resume to the cover letter when you are applying.
Benefits of the Informal Cover Letter
Many people think that a good cover letter should be lenghty. In fact, a short cover letter may be as beneficial to your application as a long one. There are many reasons hiring managers prefer a more brief cover letter:
- In most cases, hiring managers can read a short cover letter in less time. This makes it more likely that yours is read over a long cover letter from another applicant.
- Cover letters with a brief outline stand out more than longer ones.
- A short cover letter that grabs a reader’s attention quickly can show your ability to convey your qualifications concisely.
- It allows its author the freedom to discuss certain personal and professional experiences.
When Not to Write a Short Cover Letter?
Although short cover letters have many advantages over the traditional ones, there are some cases where you should not use them.
If you have too many relevant skills and experiences about the work, you should not trim them down. You should be writing all of them in great detail, with as much information as possible.
If the hiring manager or the employer put down word count limits in the job posting, you should obviously respect them.
Informal Cover Letter Examples
The most important thing to remember when writing a cover letter is that you are conveying relevant information in a concise manner.
Here is an example of an informal cover letter:
Dear Mr. Sacrimoni,
My name is Paulie, and I would be thrilled to join your team as an accounting manager. I admire Satriale Markets’ reputation of customers satisfaction.
My resume outlines my skills and 5 years of experience in accounting. I am passionate about speaking to new people and helping others reach their goals.
I believe my background will benefit a team that prioritizes collaboration, and Satriale Markets is the perfect place to apply for this role.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you to discuss the accounting manager position further.
Best,Paulie Gualtieri111 Oak Tree LaneSunnyvale, [email protected] | 555-123-12345
Employers might enjoy this example because it addresses the hiring manager personally. It also mentions the company in the first sentence, and it only takes half a page!
How Long Should it Be?
As a rule of thumb, write just half or two-thirds of a page. This way the hiring manager will be able to tell you right away it will be an effective and quick cover letter.
As most cover letters take up a single page, spending half or two thirds of the page shows the length difference.
Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.
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How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023 + Examples
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
New to cover letter writing? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header - Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started...
Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
- Google Search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary .
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.
Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 - Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Professional email
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .
Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
- How to Write a Motivational Letter
- How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
- Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
16 Secrets for Writing Cover Letters That Get You Hired
I can write a solid resume, interview well, and make sure that my online presence is on point.
The one thing that’s always been a struggle? The dreaded cover letter.
Cover letters can be absolute torture, and it feels like there are a million ways to screw them up. Is yours too formal or informal? Too long or short? Too much information or too vague?
There’s an upside, though: Making your cover letter awesome doesn’t have to be a long, difficult process. In fact, as I’ve written more and more cover letters over time (and started helping dozens of other people write theirs), they’ve actually become (gasp!) fun.
Below, I’ve listed the 16 most important tips I’ve learned to make crafting a cover letter into an easy and pain-free process. Half of the tips are related to what you write, and the other half are tiny things that’ll make sure your cover letter is better than the rest. By the end of the list, there’s no way a hiring manager will be able to shuffle you to the bottom of the pile. Or you know…delete your email…
8 Tips for Cover Letters That Grab Hiring Managers’ Attention
1. Describe a pain point
Here’s the most important question any cover letter should answer: What problem would hiring you solve?
Notice that this question is about the company’s problem, not your desire to land the job! Tricky, I know.
But think about it: If a company has put up a job description, it means they have a pain point and need a solution. For example, if a company is hiring a web designer, it means they don’t think their current layout is up to snuff and they’re looking for someone who can get them there. That’s the problem they need solved, and that’s what your cover letter should make clear in first few sentences.
2. Don’t regurgitate your resume
This is a tip that you’ve probably heard before, but it happens all the time : Don’t use your cover letter to simply restate your resume!
Your cover letter is the perfect place to expand on things that your resume doesn’t detail, illustrate the more intangible reasons why you’re perfect for the job, and explain any particular circumstances that warrant discussion (for example, if you’re making a sudden or drastic career change).
Skillcrush: 22 Things to Remove From Your Resume Immediately
3. The tone should match the company
Cover letters are great for companies not only because they can see if you can solve the problem at hand, but also because they give hiring managers a sense of whether or not you understand the company culture.
How do they figure this out? Tone.
Take a look at a company’s website, how its social media is phrased, and how its employees talk about it online. Is this company a little more informal and fun? Is it buttoned-up and corporate? Your cover letter should be written in a tone similar to that of the company’s copy. Obviously put a professional spin on it, but keep the company’s culture in mind.
4. Keep the focus on the company
Hiring managers assume that if you’re applying to a particular job, that must mean you really want that job. Thus, you don’t need to spend your entire cover letter reiterating how badly you want the job and how great the experience would be for you .
It’s okay to spend one or two sentences tops explaining your love for the company, but then it’s time to turn the tables.
The majority of your cover letter should be illustrating to a potential employer what hiring you would do for their company. Again, focus on the pain point: What talents and skills do you have that would help this organization tremendously?
5. Use your numbers
A big problem I’ve seen in lots of cover letters is that they tend to be very vague in describing any notable accomplishments or achievements.
For example, instead of saying that you have had “a great deal of success as an email marketer,” use your numbers: “I spearheaded an entire newsletter redesign that resulted in a 500% increase in our open rate, which proves…”
Numbers also add intrigue and leave hiring managers wanting to hear more!
Psst! This tip holds true for resumes! ( More here .) Adding numbers and statistics is a solid way to stand out!
6. Make your anecdotes short
While examples can make your cover letter super effective, many people make the mistake of including unnecessary or irrelevant information when using anecdotes that make them drag on and lose their umph .
My personal rule is to make any example or story no longer than three sentences so that you can avoid going overboard and wasting valuable space. Here’s how to break it down:
- Sentence 1: Introduce the skill you’re highlighting.
- Sentences 2: Explain the situation where you showed off this skill.
- Sentence 3: What was the end result? Explain what it did for the company and what it proves about your character.
7. Make your opening line memorable
If the big opener to your cover letter is “I’m applying for Position X at Company Y” or “My name is…” it’s time to press the backspace button. There are two things wrong with both of these phrases:
- They’re redundant, so you’re taking up precious space! A hiring manager is already going to know your name from your application as well as which position you’re applying for. No need to repeat it.
- They’re generic and unmemorable. Give your hiring manager something to get excited about or be intrigued by.
So, how can you start a cover letter with something that has a little more pizzazz? Try opening with a favorite short anecdote, a quote that best describes you as a professional, or your personal tagline.
8. Everything should relate to the job description
As you write (and then read through) every line of your cover letter, ask yourself: How does this sentence relate to the job description? If you find yourself going on tangents or including facts that don’t prove your ability to excel at the job or understand the company culture, take it out.
And if you need some help making sense of exactly what will prove you are qualified for the job at hand, check out these 10 Tips for Deciphering Tech Job Listings .
8 Tips for Putting the Finishing Touches on Your Cover Letter
1. Research whom to address your letter to
Scrap the “To Whom It May Concern” greeting and do some research to find out who will be reading your cover letter.
In some cases, employers will be super helpful and straight up tell you whom to address that cover letter to. If you aren’t so lucky, a quick Google search can help, or if you have a connection to a potential employer, have a professional contact ask around to see if they can get a name.
If all else fails and you really want to avoid the dreaded “To Whom It May Concern” line, feel free to shoot the company an email. I did this before when I was applying to a company that had a plethora of people on its editorial and HR teams and I had no idea who’d be hiring me.
Here’s the quick template I used:
I’m applying to [name of company]’s [name of job title] position, and I was having some trouble figuring out whom specifically to address the cover letter to. Is there a particular person or department I should direct it to?
Thanks so much for your time!
2. Be smart with hyperlinks
If you’re going to use hyperlinks in your cover letter, there are two important things to keep in mind. First, try not to include more than two or three links tops in a cover letter (like an online portfolio or personal website). All links should be relevant, and your cover letter shouldn’t be used as a dumping ground for everything you’ve ever created!
Second, make sure you add context to a hyperlink to both draw attention to it and to make the hiring manager understand that it’s worth his or her time to click on. For example, if you’re referencing a recent design project you did, add that said project can be found “in my online portfolio” and add a hyperlink.
3. Delete extra images, clipart, emoticons and emojis
This is a no-brainer: Regardless of how “chill” the company says it is, keep clipart, emoticons, emojis, cute pictures of your puppy, and any other images OUT of your cover letter!
Squeeze an emoji into a cover email if you’re SUPER confident it’s appropriate. Otherwise, steer clear.
4. Keep it short (like, really short)
I’ve seen dozens of cover letters in the past month, and the biggest issue across the board is that people make their cover letters way too long.
Here’s the general rule of thumb to follow: Your cover letter should be a single page (no more!) and around 300-350 words. If you’re writing a cover email, three to five sentences works (since you usually have attachments or links for a hiring manager to click on).
5. Keep your font professional (and normal)
True story: I once received a cover letter from a friend where he’d had kept his writing to one page—but it was in eight-point font. Yikes.
Your cover letter font size should be normal (aim for between 10-point and 12-point), and your font should be straightforward and professional. Favorites include Arial, Times New Roman, and Georgia. Just say no to Curly Q or Comic Sans.
Skillcrush: 8 Free Font Pairings You Have to See
6. Break up your paragraphs
Nothing provokes fear in people faster than a wall of text. Hiring managers get a visual of your physical cover letter before they ever read it, and if their first reaction is, “Oh god, it’s all one paragraph!” that’s not a good sign.
Instead, break up your cover letter into smaller paragraphs of three or four sentences each. It’s so much more aesthetically pleasing, and the person reading your cover letter will thank you.
7. Cut the vague professional jargon
As with in a resume, using phrases like “team player,” “self-motivated,” or “results driven” only makes your cover letter generic and unmemorable. Use more lively language, or better yet, use specific examples to prove your point.
8. Re-read your cover letter over (and over and over)
Editing is the most tedious but also the most necessary part of any cover letter writing you do. Start by printing your cover letter out and reading it aloud. I also recommend reading the cover letter starting with the last sentence and working your way up.
Another pro tip: Definitely get someone else to read your cover letter. In many cases, you might think your writing is pristine, but a friend will find at least a couple typos and point out some places where your wording is a little clunky.
Getting that perfect cover letter doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. Use these tips and you’ll be snagging the job (and impressing potential employers with your savvy) in no time!
Skillcrush: The Ultimate Guide the Perfect Email Cover Letter
Lily is a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect , the world’s largest student-run college access organization. She also serves in editorial capacities at The Muse, HelloFlo, and Her Campus. Recently, she was named one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women for her work helping underserved youth get into college. You can follow Lily on Twitter at @lkherman
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How to write the perfect cover letter, by miraclyn rubavathi, 19 october 2021 - 5:30pm.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter also referred to as a covering letter or an application letter is an important document most organisations ask for along with a job application. It helps boost your resume which by itself might not be sufficient for a recruiter to get to know you.
Although not all recruiters demand a cover letter, including a cover letter along with your resume is good practice, as many recruiters go through cover letters to shortlist candidates for the interview. A well-written cover letter can create a good first impression and make you stand out from other applicants.
What is difference between a cover letter and a resume?
Your resume is not your cover letter. Consider a resume like a menu in a restaurant. A menu provides a list of all the items available in the restaurant. Similarly, a resume is a list of your work-related skill sets and experience. A resume focuses on facts like your educational qualifications, work experience, skills, achievements, etc. However, a cover letter focuses on the job that you’re applying for and how you fit in that role. It is a chance for you to explain to the recruiters how you can use your professional skills and experience to excel in the new role that you’re applying for.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
Not only does a cover letter give more insights about you to the hiring manager but it is also a vital element in getting you the interview. Most job seekers spend a lot of time perfecting their resume but don’t put so much thought into writing a proper cover letter. It’s important that the cover letter includes information about why you are suitable for that specific role, which helps show the recruiter that you have put some thought into the job application.
What should be included in a cover letter?
There are several key components in a cover letter, mentioned below. It may seem like a very time-consuming process to write a cover letter but it is essential and your letter must be specific to every job that you apply for, as it shows how serious you are about the job you’re applying for.
- Name, address, contact information and date
- Opening statement
- Your knowledge of the company and the position you’re applying for and your interest in working for this particular company
- Your background
- Your professional skills and experience that matches the job description along with examples
- Highlighting why you’re the right fit for the job
Here’s a sample cover letter.
How should you write a cover letter?
Writing a cover letter only involves a few simple steps. If you know how to write them yourself, you can showcase your unique skills and experience to the recruiter which increases your chances of you getting hired.
A cover letter, like all other formal documents, has three parts, a beginning, a middle and an end. Let’s look at what goes into each of these parts and what kind of phrases to use when writing one.
In the past, cover letters were sent through post or submitted in person. Hence, they included addresses. However, nowadays as cover letters are submitted through an online job portal or via emails, physical addresses are no longer necessary. So, you can skip the address if you are sending your letter electronically.
Starting to write a cover letter can be very intimidating especially if you’ve never done it before. All you need to do is try and be authentic and original. Here are some tips on what to say, how to say and how not to say it in your cover letter along with example phrases:
Nowadays, companies are not just looking for people with skills, they also want someone whose values align with theirs. You can bring in your personality to the letter by talking about your passion, beliefs, values, and ethics. It’s also a great opportunity to show them how hiring you would be mutually beneficial for both parties.
Do your research by going through the job description, roles and responsibilities, code of conduct and any other information you can get hold of about the organisation, either from their website, mutual friends who work there or by checking with the HR manager.
You can also use bullet points or numbers in this section to highlight your achievements.
The end or the closing consists of three parts: call-to-action, thanking the reader, and signing off. The end is also an important part of the cover letter as sometimes inappropriate endings can throw people off. Make sure you’re polite and respectful even when you end your letter.
How long should your cover letter be?
Ideally a cover letter is a one-page document. You don’t need to write pages about all your skills and experience, as these details are already in your resume. So, don’t write an essay; keep it short, organise it into paragraphs and highlight how you are the best candidate for the job.
Things to check before sending your letter
Remember, your cover letter is a fairly formal document. So, don’t use informal words, phrases, expressions or contractions like I’m, I’ve. Instead, use the full form: I am, I have. However, some companies are fine with semi-formal or neutral style and if you are sure, you can shift your tone to adapt to the organisation’s style. However, you shouldn’t write very informally.
- Errors Spelling errors, grammatical errors and typographical errors don’t make a good first impression. If you’re careless in your writing, there's a good chance that your hiring manager will think you do not have good communication skills or you make mistakes often. It also shows that you didn't proofread your document, which in turn shows how little of an effort you’ve put into writing and sending the letter. So, do proofread before sending your letter. It might be hard for us to proofread our own writing; we might miss out on checking or editing important details. Hence, it’s also good to use online tools or have a friend read it for you.
Dos and Don’ts
Let’s quickly recap a few important things to do and not to do in a cover letter.
It’s your turn
Yes, now it’s your turn to write your own cover letter. If you’re a job seeker, this is a good time to start practising writing cover letters by yourself. Even if you aren’t looking for a job at the moment, you can think of your dream job you and draft a letter for it. It will help you understand the position better, realise where you stand and help you improve your writing skills.
- Learn how to write a cover letter or email to respond to a job advert.
- For School students applying for an internship or voluntary work - Easy tips from British Council Teens to write a cover letter.
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How to Write a Cover Letter
Last Updated: October 26, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Amber Rosenberg, PCC . Amber Rosenberg is a Professional Life Coach, Career Coach, and Executive Coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the owner of Pacific Life Coach, she has 20+ years of coaching experience and a background in corporations, tech companies, and nonprofits. Amber trained with the Coaches Training Institute and is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 19,026,764 times.
Cover letters. As much as they require more work, cover letters are a great opportunity to cover qualifications we can’t fully explain in our resumes. In addition, they help personalize job applicants to enable them to come across more as real people to potential employers. If you throw together a cover letter in the hopes that nobody will actually read it, you might be missing a chance to land the job. To take advantage of a cover letter's full potential, follow these steps below. You’ll find advice on formatting, reviewing, and researching cover letters. You will also find links to three free samples, which you can copy and adapt to your own personal cover letter.
Sample Cover Letters
Here are some well-written sample letters you can copy and use as a starting point.
Write an Email Cover Letter
How to Address Your Cover Letter Figure out the name of the hiring manager. This small detail makes a huge difference. It makes your letter seem less formulaic, and shows the hiring manager that you care about this opportunity enough to figure out who to write to. Go with another manager’s name if you can’t find the hiring manager. Look up the company’s employee roster and make an educated guess as to who will be reading your cover letter. Even if you’re incorrect, it’s better than using “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To whom it may concern”. If you can't find the name of an employee, you can also address the team (for example, “Dear Digital Marketing Team“). Use “Dear” and their formal title. Make sure to use the hiring manager’s proper title, like Mr., Ms., or Dr. If you can’t tell from their name what the manager’s gender is, address it to their full name.  X Research source End with a comma or semi-colon. Ending the salutation with a comma is typically acceptable. If you want your letter to be more formal, opt for a semi-colon instead.
- The introduction is your chance to hook the reader and convince them that reading your cover letter is worth their time. If they aren't convinced in the first few sentences, they may not read the rest of the letter.
- Start with a few unique, attention-grabbing lines that are creative and original. This can include relevant anecdotes, facts, or quotes. Always think about it from the perspective of the hiring manager or recruiter: what is the specific value you bring to the company, organization or role?
- Carefully evaluating a job posting is a great way of gauging the type of company that you’re applying for and can help determine the tone you’ll use in writing your letter from the first paragraph to the last.
Want Feedback on your Cover Letter? Submit your cover letter for professional editing and feedback when you take wikiHow's New Cover Letter Basics Course !
Make Sure to Talk About… Why you’re a qualified candidate for the position. What work experience you have that fits the listed job requirements. Why you want to work for this company specifically. What tangible actions and improvements you could make in this role.
Wrapping Up the Cover Letter Reiterate why you’re a perfect fit. Sum your qualifications up in one succinct sentence to remind the manager why you’re the right person to hire. Discuss what you’ll do next. If you plan on following up with the hiring manager in a week or two, include a specific date. Otherwise, just say that you look forward to interviewing for the position and discussing your qualifications further. Give your contact information. Include your email address and phone number to make sure the manager can get in touch with you. Mention any attachments you’ve included. This could be references, a resume, your portfolio, or other requested materials. Thank the person for their time and consideration. Say something like, “Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to speaking with you soon.”
Write a Paper Cover Letter
Formatting the Letterhead Write your name at the top. If you’re stylizing your letterhead horizontally, bold your name and write it in 14- or 16-point font. If not, put it in 12-point. Include your address, phone number, and email. Make sure your information is up-to-date so the employer can easily contact you, and write it in normal, 12-point font. Use a professional, legible font. You can use a different font from the rest of the letter to help your information stand out, but it should be clear and professional. Avoid fonts with stylistic curls and add-ons. Include an extra line under the letterhead. This creates visual appeal and separates the letterhead from the rest of the letter.
- From here on out, use 12-point Arial or Times New Roman throughout the entire letter, set your margins to one inch, and use single spacing. Be sure your font is black, and if you're printing your letter out, use standard-sized paper (8 1/2” by 11”).
- You don't necessarily need to include how you became aware of the position unless it was through a mutual contact or recruiting program—in which case you should make the most of the connection.
- If you are writing a letter of interest (also known as a prospecting or inquiry letter) in which you are asking about positions that might be available, specify why you are interested in working for the employer.
Writing Stand-Out Body Paragraphs Research the company and tailor your letter accordingly. The tone and content of your letter depend on the company you’re applying for, so it’s important to learn as much as you can about it. Take a look at their website and look up any outside articles about the work that they’re doing. Use language directly from the job listing. Incorporating the exact skills, requirements, and wordings used in the job listing will make your letter stand out to your employer and show that you’re exactly what they’re looking for.  X Research source Use a direct tone that matches the company’s atmosphere. If you’re applying to write for a blogging website, go for a friendly or informative tone like the site uses. If you’re applying for a finance position, a more serious tone will work better. Tailoring your voice shows the manager that you’ll fit in well at the company. Research the employer’s mission and history. What makes the company stand out? How have they evolved over time and what’s their stated mission? Incorporating bits of the company’s history and current projects will show that you’re invested and well-informed with their work.
Review Your Cover Letter
Watch Out For: Common misspellings and incorrect punctuation. Comb over your letter carefully to make sure you catch any mistakes that your spelling and grammar checker may have missed. Writing in the passive voice. Now’s the time to own your accomplishments. Replace phrases like “This experience gave me the opportunity to…” with “I used this opportunity to grow and learn that…” Informal writing. Aim to sound professional and educated. Avoid all forms of slang and unnecessary abbreviations.
Checklist for Preparing Your Cover Letter
- The complete name of the company to which you are applying for a job
- The name of the person to whom you are addressing the cover letter
- The address of the person to whom you are sending the letter
- The title of the job for which you are applying and/or its reference number, if it exists
- "room for advancement"
- "an opportunity to learn new skills"
- "graduate student in environmental science"
- "customer service professional specializing in the high-end retail market"
- "fifteen years of excellent customer service experience"
- "an outstanding background in scientific research and discovery"
- "a solid history of dependability in the automotive industry"
- "extensive experience with start-ups"
- "demonstrated ability to solve problems"
- "refined ability to manage teams"
- What will you help the company accomplish, if given the job you desire?
- "increase its bottom line"
- "meet its goal of providing only the best in customer service"
- "expand its customer base and increase its revenue"
- "senior level"
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- Be concise. Never use two words when one will do. Always strike the word "very" and eliminate the word "that" as much as you can. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Consider name-dropping if you are confident that the person you know at the company you are applying to will vouch for you — but do that with their consent. Sometimes a bit of inside help does go a long way, so don't dismiss this option if it is open to you. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Tweak your cover letter depending upon your target. If you are applying for specific jobs then make it as relevant as possible. Include the job reference number and address your cover letter directly to the company contact (if you have their name). Alternatively, if you are applying speculatively you can start with the salutation 'Dear Sirs,' and finish with 'Yours faithfully' rather than 'Sincerely' Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- This is not your autobiography . Keep it well under a page. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- Avoid generic, empty language ("I will bring a depth of experience," or "I believe my qualifications and experience suit the demands of the position"). Be specific and concrete about what you can bring to the position. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Be careful not to overplay your cover letter's role in the job application process. Yes, a good cover letter is important and a well-written cover letter should help entice the employer to read your resume. Even so, you should still be aware that your resume/CV is the main player, whereas the cover letter's role is a supporting one. If you get the balance wrong and place too much emphasis on the cover letter (making it too long and complex), then it could deter the employer from reading your resume. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- If you're doing a thorough job search, you will get rejected sometimes. If you're not getting rejected, you're not putting yourself out there enough. In addition, if you don't learn to see rejection as a chance to improve your approach, then you'll have a very difficult time getting a job. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 1
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- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-address-a-cover-letter-with-examples
- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/coverletters/
- ↑ https://www.careers.govt.nz/job-hunting/cvs-and-cover-letters/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/
- ↑ https://www.livecareer.com/resources/cover-letters/how-to/write/yes-coverletter-letterhead-sho
- ↑ https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/careers-advice/covering-letter
- ↑ https://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/jobs-and-careers/applying-for-a-job/what-is-a-cover-letter/how-to-write-a-cover-letter
- ↑ https://nus.edu.sg/cfg/students/career-resources/cover-letter
About This Article
Address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager for an important personal touch. In your first paragraph, introduce yourself and state the job you’re applying for. In 1-2 body paragraphs, describe why you’re a great candidate, what relevant experience you’ve had, and why you want to work at that company, using language from the job posting. In the last paragraph, give your contact information and thank them for their time. Sign off with “Sincerely,” and send! To find out the differences between how to write an email cover letter versus a paper cover letter, continue reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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To Whom it May Concern? How to Address and End a Cover Letter
We’ve put together a few tips to help you personalize your cover letter, whether you know the hiring manager’s name or not.
In our modern age of personalization, To Whom It May Concern is both an antiquated and detached way to address a cover letter . It may also imply that you haven’t researched the company or that you assume the letter can be read by anyone. Below, we’ve put together a few tips to help you personalize your cover letter , whether you know the hiring manager’s name or not.
When it comes to addressing a cover letter, advice columns frequently spotlight these two pitfalls:
- Mistake 1 : Failing to address your cover letter to a specific person
- Mistake 2 : Addressing a cover letter to the wrong person
Most job postings don’t specify who will be reading your cover letter. This puts job seekers in a tricky situation. Fixing the first mistake could cause you to make the second. So what’s the best way to replace “To Whom It May Concern” on your cover letter?
Get instant feedback on your cover letter with Jobscan’s cover letter optimization tool. See it in action .
3 Key Tips for Addressing Your Cover Letter
1) don’t address your cover letter to the recruiter.
For many job openings, the first person you need to impress is a corporate recruiter. That doesn’t mean you should address your cover letter to them.
“Recruiters do not read cover letters,” a long-time healthcare recruiter told Jobscan . “Bottom line.”
That might be an overstatement — most don’t, some do — but many recruiters would admit that they aren’t the intended audience of a cover letter. “It’s mostly for the hiring manager,” said a recruiter in the non-profit industry. “For us [recruiters], it’s just an extra step in an already elongated process.”
The healthcare recruiter agreed: “If you’re sending it straight to a hiring manager who’s looking at a much lower number of applicants, they might actually read that.”
2) Search for the Hiring Manager’s Name
The best way to personalize your cover letter is to address the hiring manager by name. However, it can be difficult to identify the hiring manager, and your educated guess could cause you to address your cover letter to the wrong person. Here are some tips for finding the hiring manager.
Search the Company Website
Few job postings list the hiring manager by name but many will tell you the position to which you’d be reporting.
With this information, a little detective work can reveal the name of the hiring manager.
Start off by browsing the company’s website. Look for an about page, company directory, or contact page. These pages are frequently linked at the very bottom of the website. Companies that feature employees on their about page make it much easier to figure out who will be reading your cover letter.
You can also try searching the website. If the website doesn’t have a built-in search bar, use this syntax in Google:
“[position you’ll be reporting to]” site:company website
This will reveal hard-to-find about pages or other mentions of the position in the company’s blog posts, press releases, and other pages.
If a company doesn’t list the hiring manager on their website, LinkedIn is your next best resource.
Start off by searching for the company page on LinkedIn. Once you’re on the company’s LinkedIn page, click “See all X employees on LinkedIn” near the top.
Depending on the company size, you can either browse all positions or narrow your results by adding search terms to the search bar (e.g. “Marketing Manager”) and utilizing the “Current companies” filters on the right side of the screen.
Search for the “reports to” position from the job listing. If it wasn’t provided in the listing, search for keywords related to your prospective department (e.g. “marketing”). If the company uses an intuitive corporate hierarchy you should be able to determine who will be reading the cover letter.
Contact the Company Directly
There is nothing wrong with calling or emailing the company to ask for the name of the hiring manager. Be polite and honest with the administrative assistant or customer service representative. Explain that you’re about to apply for a job and you’d like to know who you should address in your cover letter.
If they aren’t able to provide an answer or transfer you to someone who knows, let it go. The last thing you need is word getting back to the hiring manager that you were pushy with one of their colleagues.
3) Use a More Personalized “To Whom it May Concern” Alternative
You can still personalize your cover letter, even when you don’t know the identity of the hiring manager. Instead of “To Whom It May Concern,” which casts a wide net and is specific to no one, try addressing your cover letter to one specific person.
The most generic version of this is:
Dear Hiring Manager,
But job seekers can often be more specific. Take a look at these examples:
Dear Customer Experience Manager,
Dear Customer Experience Hiring Team Manager,
Some other alternatives include addressing your cover letter to an entire department:
- Dear Engineering Department,
Dear Engineering Team,
OR addressing the entire team:
Hi Jobscan Team,
Dear Jobscan Team,
As with many aspects of the job application process, demonstrating that you put in some extra effort can make a difference. Doing some research before addressing a cover letter contributes to a positive first impression.
8 cover letter salutation examples
Here are eight standard cover letter openings you can choose from. Select the one that best suits the energy of the company you’re applying to and use either a specific name or department depending on the information you have available.
- Hi Mr. Smith,
- Hello Jobscan Team,
- Dear Ms. Whittaker and Team,
- Good morning, Mr. Kennedy
- Good afternoon, Louise,
- To the Jobscan hiring manager,
How to end a cover letter
Just as important as beginning your cover letter is ensuring you end it on a strong note. Your cover letter ending should not be underestimated in its ability to help you move forward in the hiring process. After making your case in the previous paragraphs, you need to end your cover letter with a strong call to action to entice the recruiter to invite you for a job interview.
Madeline Mann , an HR leader in the technology industry and creator of Self Made Millennial , says that while no conclusion will save a bad cover letter, it can distinguish you from another good candidate.
It’s all about enthusiasm, according to Madeline. “Companies want people who want them,” she says. If you can draw to the company’s values and show how interested in working with them you are, that’s a substantial advantage. You want to create a lasting impression by incorporating that enthusiasm in your cover letter ending.
“Companies want people who want them” – Madeline mann
A good conclusion, in fact, should reflect the rest of your cover letter.
Set up the end of your cover letter with a strategic middle section
If you want your cover letter ending to be effective, you first need to build momentum. Most recruiters and career coaches agree that by the time you get to the end of your cover letter, it needs to possess the following three elements:
- It tells a story about yourself
- It shows your value concretely
- It calls the recruiter to action
Julia Reiter, a career coach based in Toronto, suggests that you lead up to your cover letter ending by showing that you understand the company’s current challenges and are equipped to solve them. This will make your cover letter call to action all the more effective.
Although the job description will give you information about what the company is looking to accomplish, it will not help you distinguish yourself from other applicants. Show the company you are willing to go the extra mile by researching the key industry challenges and the particular issues they might be facing (beyond the obvious ones).
For example, you can read articles from industry-related publications and get acquainted with the numbers and statistics about the particular business areas your company is engaged in. By being aware of the particular issues they are facing, you can more easily make your skillset and experiences relevant.
When you talk about your past experiences and accomplishments , make sure you mention the problems the company is facing. For example, if you are applying for a customer success manager position at a Software-as-a-Service company, a relevant issue might be high churn rates.
Instead of writing something like “my experience in customer success makes me confident I will be a great addition to your team,” write something like “When I worked at XYZ company, I was able to reduce the churn rate by 30%. With this experience and my deep knowledge of B2B consumer psychology, I am prepared to ensure we have one of the lowest churn rates in XYZ industry.”
End your letter with a call to action
You may be tempted to write that “I’m looking forward to hearing from you” for your cover letter ending. That isn’t a call to action. For Madeline, the end of a cover letter serves to give one last push and show interest and enthusiasm in a way that stands out.
Likewise, Julia says, “now that the company knows you are aware of their current challenges and are equipped to solve those challenges for them, don’t leave them hanging. Tell them how they can make your skills and experiences a reality on their team. What number can they reach you at for an interview?”
How do you conclude a cover letter? Here are 3 examples
- “I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk about how I could join your team in its quest for XYZ value. I’m particularly thrilled about XYZ project and would love to know how I can contribute to it.
- “I am keen on meeting with you to see what I can contribute to XYZ company as it moves on in its journey to XYZ goal. I am available at your convenience for a phone call or in-person meeting.”
- “I would love to get your thoughts on what I mentioned. I am happy to hop on a phone call at your earliest convenience to discuss how I can help XYZ company with XYZ issue.”
Mistakes to avoid when ending a cover letter
The mistakes people make when they end their cover letter are often the same ones they made earlier in the piece. However, they can be particularly detrimental to your chances of landing an interview if they constitute the final impression a recruiter has of you.
When ending a cover letter, avoid:
Making it about yourself instead of the company: use sentence constructions that make the recruiter see how the company is going to benefit from hiring you. For example, try to use “you” or “we” instead of “I.”
Sounding generic or robotic: we’ve all seen these cover letters that end with the same plain paragraph. If you write one of those, the last impression you’re giving is not different from those given by all other applicants.
Selling yourself short: the conclusion is your last chance to show off the value you can bring to the company. Emphasize it and use it as a segue into your call to action.
How to end a cover letter with the appropriate salutations
Always remember that recruiters review hundreds of applications for each position. When you are competing with that many candidates, the slightest mistake will disqualify you immediately Although you may not think too much of the salutations, they can hurt your chance of landing an interview.
Make sure your salutations are formal and polite. You should be respectful not only by indicating your appreciation of the recruiter’s time but also by being concise. Do not overdo your salutations and do not employ informal greetings. “Sincerely,” “Thank you for your consideration,” “kind regards,” are all safe options.
When ending your cover letter, you want to balance confidence, respect, and appreciation.
17 cover letter ending examples
Depending on the energy of the business you are applying to, and your own personality, select one of the following 17 cover letter closing options.
- Best wishes,
- Sincere thanks,
- Many thanks,
- Thanks in advance,
- Thank you for your consideration,
- Thank you for your time,
- Sincerely yours,
- Yours truly,
- Kind regards,
- With best regards,
- Looking forward to speaking with you,
- With gratitude,
One Final Important note: Cover letters aren’t what they say they are
Cover letters don’t introduce your resume, they supplement it.
In order to get your cover letter into the hands of a hiring manager who cares, your resume has to get past the recruiter and, in many cases, the applicant tracking system they’re using.
Try analyzing your resume below to receive instant optimization tips and recruiter insights from Jobscan so that the time you spend crafting your cover letter isn’t a waste.
The keyword analysis also shows exactly what to focus on in your cover letter.
Jobscan Premium (one month free) even has a cover letter scan feature.
Editor’s Note: A section of this article was originally written in a separate blog post by Léandre Larouche on June 9, 2020. It has been updated and combined with this article as of June 10, 2021.
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Informal Vs. Formal Writing: What’s The Difference?
- What Is Formal Writing?
- What Is Informal Writing?
- Formal Vs. Informal Writing
- Formal Example
- Informal Example
As a writer, you’re faced with a lot of choices related to your writing: how long should your essay be ? Who should be addressed in a cover letter ? What is a thesis statement ? But there’s one question that also applies to every composition: how do you distinguish writing that’s informal vs. formal?
That’s right. Whether a piece is informal or formal will influence everything down to the smallest comma and period. But what, exactly, is the difference between formal and informal writing? When do you use one over the other? Are they really that different? If you are wondering the answers to those questions, then read on as we explore the many different features between formal and informal writing.
What is formal writing ?
First, you should know that it is the intended readers that will determine if a writer should use formal writing or informal writing . Generally, formal writing is defined as writing targeted toward an audience that a person doesn’t personally know. Typically, formal writing is used when a person wants their writing to be viewed as professional, polite, authoritative, or some combination thereof. For this reason, formal writing is often used in professional settings. For example, formal writing is often the form of writing used in research and academic papers, corporate memos and emails, press releases, and job applications.
What is informal writing ?
Informal writing is the inverse of formal writing . In a manner of speaking, informal writing is the T-shirt-and-jeans counterpart to formal writing’s dress coat and pants. In general, informal writing is defined as writing targeted toward an audience that the writer knows personally or with whom the writer wants to establish a friendly tone. Informal writing may include inside jokes, slang, abbreviations, and local colloquialisms .
As you might expect, informal writing is common in casual settings such as social media and in texting between friends. However, you will often see informal writing used in other situations, such as in literature or in lighthearted feature stories in newspapers and magazines.
Formal vs. informal writing
There are many differences between formal and informal writing. We will cover a large number of them here, but this list won’t be exhaustive. Still, you should have a good idea how formal and informal writing differ after looking at these different features.
Grammar, spelling, and punctuation
In almost all cases, formal writing adheres to the proper rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation . Informal writing, on the other hand, may not. A person may not intentionally break the rules of grammar in informal writing, but they know that a reader is unlikely to care about errors or nonstandard sentence structure.
- Formal writing: The writing was clear but had several mistakes; you should revise and redraft the article.
- Informal writing: The writing was clear, but had alot of mistakes… u should revise and redraft the article.
Formal writing doesn’t always have to follow stuffy, antiquated rules. Check out 5 formulaic writing rules you can explore breaking.
Generally speaking, formal writing often uses long, complex sentences that are connected using transitions. Informal writing often includes shorter sentences that may abruptly move from topic to topic.
- Formal writing: Surprise inspections will be performed on a regular basis as determined by the acting supervisor, who has the authority to request them as needed. Furthermore, employees should be prepared to submit their work for review in a timely fashion.
- Informal writing: I love my new sweater! Thank you!! Where do you want to meet for lunch?
Vocabulary and tone
Typically, formal writing has a serious tone and uses a sophisticated vocabulary that often includes large, complex words. Additionally, formal writing often uses technical terms that match the topic being discussed. For example, a medical text using formal writing will often use the term tibia rather than shinbone or a similar term. Informal writing will often instead have a lighter tone that uses simpler, commonly used words.
- Formal writing: The research team expeditiously and meticulously analyzed the findings in order to identify the origin of the Staphylococcus infection.
- Informal writing: We were out back chopping down some trees when Mom called.
Third person vs. first person/second person
In general, formal writing is usually written from the third person . Formal writing typically avoids using first- or second-person pronouns such as I, me, we, us, and you . By contrast, informal writing often uses first-, second-, and third-person perspectives while making frequent use of personal pronouns. Because of this difference, formal writing is also more likely to use the passive voice in order to avoid using a first- or second-person perspective.
- Formal writing: The data were gathered by using sorting algorithms.
- Informal writing: I used sorting algorithms to gather the data.
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In general, formal writing will most likely avoid using many of the words or phrases that our dictionary has tagged as being informal. This includes terms such as wanna , gotta , gonna , ‘nuff , kerfuffle, cept, ’Merica, thingamajig , and many other examples of informal language. Relatedly, phrasal verbs are also often typically not used in formal writing . Formal writing will also typically avoid using slang, euphemisms , colloquialisms, expletives, vulgarities, nonstandard abbreviations, jargon , and online acronyms.
- Formal writing: Gregory wanted to remove the items from the box, but it was sealed tightly. Being unable to find scissors, he admitted defeat and ate a sandwich.
- Informal writing: Greg was dying to get the stuff outta the box, but the box was like it ain’t happening bro lol. He couldn’t find the damn scissors, so he said the hell with it and bounced to go scarf a hoagie.
Typically, interjections are not used in formal writing . Going further, exclamation points usually don’t appear very often in formal writing. Both interjections and exclamation points are used in informal writing.
- Formal writing: The mixture violently erupted, catching bystanders unaware.
- Informal writing: The stuff exploded! Wow!
Typically, contractions are avoided in formal writing , and the words are instead spelled out. In informal writing, contractions are commonly used.
- Formal writing: The team would have purchased extra materials, but the store was not open.
- Informal writing: The team would’ve purchased extra materials, but the store wasn’t open.
In general, formal writing is usually written objectively . In most cases, writers attempt to avoid stating subjective thoughts or presenting personal opinions in the main text of formal writing. When presenting arguments in formal writing, writers often calmly present their side backed by supporting evidence and trustworthy sources . Informal writing can include (strongly worded) personal opinions, emotional appeals, and inflammatory language presented without evidence or supporting facts.
- Formal writing: As the evidence clearly shows, the director severely miscalculated production costs when initially presenting the film’s budget.
- Informal writing: The incompetent buffoon who claims to be a professional director blew the budget so badly that the studio should fire him as soon as possible.
Formal writing often entails referencing or researching what others have written. Check out these tips to avoid plagiarism.
Example of formal writing
The following excerpt shows an example of formal writing that was used in a statement released by American president Joe Biden:
Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love. Today’s bipartisan vote brings the United States one step closer to protecting that right in law. The Respect for Marriage Act will ensure that LGBTQI+ couples and interracial couples are respected and protected equally under federal law, and provide more certainty to these families since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs . I want to thank the Members of Congress whose leadership has sent a strong message that Republicans and Democrats can work together to secure the fundamental right of Americans to marry the person they love. I urge Congress to quickly send this bill to my desk where I will promptly sign it into law.
Example of informal writing
The following example of informal writing is a review of the movie Fight Club by a user of the aggregator website Metacritic:
Best movie of all time. Period. Seen it more than 28 times. Its a bible of what we have to learn. I say you are not your clothes. You are not the brands u wear, even when u think they re part of ur personality. Comb your hair. I ll tell everyone here the end of the movie, but that its not what this movie is about. First rule of fight club is… you do not talk about fight club. And if u havent seen this film then you are a hollow shell. Become human again and start by watching this lesson.
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Difference Between Formal and Informal Letter
Last updated on April 11, 2020 by Surbhi S
On the contrary, informal letters are written to friends and relative for personal communication and uses a casual or an emotional tone. The article excerpt presents you all the important differences between formal and informal letters in a detailed manner.
Content: Formal Vs Informal Letters
Comparison chart, definition of formal letters.
A formal letter is any letter written in the professional language, with a prescribed format for a formal purpose, i.e. it can be a recommendation letter, enquiry letter, complaint letter, cover letter and so on. All business letters are formal, but vice versa is not possible. Such letters are used for a variety of reasons like a formal invitation, proposal, reference, making a complaint or inquiry, applying for a job. While writing a formal letter one should keep in mind the following things:
- It should be in specified format.
- It should avoid the use of unnecessary words.
- It should be straight to the point.
- It should be relevant and objective.
- It should be complex and thorough.
- It should be polite, even if it is a complaint letter.
- It should be free from any mistakes, i.e. grammatical or spelling.
There are three types of formal letters, i.e. business letters, letters for outlining civic problems and job applications.
Definition of Informal Letters
An informal letter is a letter written to someone; we know fairly well. The letter can be used for some reasons like conveying message, news, giving advice, congratulate recipient, request information, asking questions, etc. It is a personal letter, written to whom you are familiar with, like friends, siblings, parents or any other closed one. There is no specific format prescribed for writing this letter.
While writing an informal letter, one can afford to be friendly, and make use personal or emotional tone. Slang or colloquial terms, codes, abbreviations, etc. can also be used at the time of writing it, depending on the familiarity with the recipient.
Key Differences Between Formal and Informal Letter
The significant points of difference between formal and informal letters are discussed as under:
- A formal letter is one, written in formal language, in the stipulated format, for official purpose. A letter is said to be informal when it is written in a friendly manner, to someone you are familiar with.
- Formal letters are written for official or professional communication. On the other hand, informal letters are used for casual or personal communication.
- There is a manner prescribed for writing formal letters. As opposed to informal communication, which does not follow any format.
- Formal letters are usually written in the third person, however, for business letters, first person is used. On the contrary, informal letters are written in first, second and third person.
- Formal letters are used for writing letters to business, i.e. partners, suppliers, customers, clients, etc. , college or institute, employer, professionals, etc. As against this, we use informal letters for writing letters to friends, relatives, acquaintance, etc.
- While writing formal letters, we use passive voice. Conversely, an active and imperative voice is used.
- The sentences we use at the time of writing a formal letter are, long and complex. Unlike an informal letter, where we use short and simple sentences which are easy to interpret.
- The size of a formal letter should be concise; that does not include irrelevant matter. In contrast, the informal letter can be concise or large.
- Formal letters do not include contraction like (didn’t, can’t) and abbreviations rather it uses full forms. As compared to informal letters, which makes use of contraction, abbreviation, idioms, phrasal verbs and even slang and colloquial terms.
Video: Formal Vs Informal Letter
So, before start writing letter, first of all, you should identify, Who is your recipient? If you are having a professional relationship with the recipient, then you should go for a formal letter, whereas if the recipient is someone very close to you or you know the recipient well, then the informal letter is the right choice for you.
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