Q:

What makes a great personal letter?

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Quick Answer

A great personal letter is well-written, is customized to its recipient and contains basic letter-writing elements such as the greeting, body and closing. Personal letters are usually informal written communications between relatives and friends. Traditionally, a personal letter was handwritten and delivered by hand or postal mail. This method is still in use, but email correspondence is more common.

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Full Answer

Unless a personal letter requires a response, a return address is not necessary. When included, the return address is placed in the upper-right corner of the letter. The date is always included, residing either a line or two below the return address or alone in the upper-right corner.

A great personal letter always begins with an appropriate salutation. "Dear name of recipient" is a simple choice that suits many situations. A letter to a close friend or loved one may begin with something more personal, such as "Hey nickname." A comma follows the greeting, and the body of the letter begins on the next line.

The most enjoyable and appreciated personal letters contain good news, positive information and questions for the recipient. Letters containing bad news or information about a tragic event benefit from a soft, friendly tone. Well-written personal letters end with a suitable closing and signature. "Sincerely," "Thank you," "Love" or "Happy holidays" are possible options depending on the reason for correspondence.

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