Formal Letters: The Cover Letter

A Formal Letter is a letter written from one individual to another or between different parties with an aim of applying for a job, apologies, recommend a person, inquiry of information and other queries. Formal letters are  written in a concise manner as the subject topic is addressed.

In general all formal letters follow a similiar layout.

In this lesson we will deal with a type of formal letter, the Cover Letter.  Cover letters are the kind of letters you send to prospective employers when you are looking for a job. They are usually sent together with your CV (Curriculum Vitae). Most probably you will send a Letter of  Application as a response to a Job Advertisement.

Have a look at the example:

Job Advertisement

Job advertisement

Now a young man, Liam, is interested in the job and has sent the following cover letter:

Cover letter 2

As you can see the letter style is very different from an informal piece of writing such as an email. Formal letters usually have the same layout, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to make an effort to remember it.

  • First, at the top you must include the inside address (the address of the person receiving the letter) on the top left, then the sender’s address (that’s your address if you are sending the letter) on the top right. Don’t forget to include the place and date just below your address.
  • Then you open the letter with a salutation (greeting or opening) . It must always be very formal. As you can see in the example they have used Dear Mr Wright.

             You will write Dear Mr / Ms/ Mrs + Name  if you know the person’s name. eg. Dear Mr Cotton, Dear Ms Smith

             You write Dear Sirs / Madam if you don’t know the person’s name. In the US you can start with Gentlemen in this case.

  • After that you have the body of the letter. In the example the body has been divided into three distinctive parts
  • Finally you close your letter with an ending.

             The ending will be Yours sincerely as in the example only if you used the person’s name in the opening.

             The ending will be Yours faithfully when you didn’t use the person’s name in the opening

Please make use of the following documents if you need more help:

Formal Letters

How to write a formal letter

TASK

Imagine you are looking for a summer job. Read one of the Job Advertisements below and write you Cover Letter. You can invent any details you might think make it more interesting.

Don’t forget yto use the appropriate layout and the openening and closing expressions.

Job advertisement 1

Job advertisement 2

Job advertisement 3

Deadline Monday 4 March 2013

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