Letter-Writing 101: Write Letters for College, Jobs and More that Get Noticed! At certain times in life, you’ll need or want to write a formal letter to someone. Applying for college or a job, or sharing in-depth personal information, typically requires a written letter.
Letters can convey far more information, sentiment and personality than within a text or instant message. You can reveal much more about yourself in a letter, including useful context and nuance. Well-written letters also reduce the likelihood of being misunderstood, because you’ve taken the time and attention to ensure your messages accurately reflect your sentiments.
Here are the 10 key steps of effective letter-writing:
  1. Gather your letter-recipient’s information – If you’re writing a formal letter of application for a college or scholarship, collect all of the recipient’s contact information up-front. Having a specific recipient in mind will also help you frame your letter.
  2. Know your proper letter format – Letters of application for college or a job should be formatted the right way to be well-received. Doing so shows you pay attention to essential details.
  3. Typed or hand-written? – A formal letter, such as for a college or job, should be typed and printed out. An informal letter, like a thank-you note for a gift or a meeting, or a message to a loved one, can be hand-written.
  4. Convey a proper tone and style – A formal letter must sound professional but not so much you no longer sound like yourself. If you’re trying to write a college application letter, search online to see how others have phrased such letters.
  5. Use an “honorific” to start – If you’re writing a formal letter, always start your letter by stating “Dear” followed by an honorific (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Professor, etc.) followed by that person’s last name, followed by a colon.
  6. Think of the recipient’s interests – If you’re writing a formal letter for college or a job, the recipient will want to know why you’re interested and your qualifications. If you’re writing an informal letter, like to a friend, ask how they’re doing – especially if you’d like a return letter.
  7. Keep it brief – Unless you’re writing a personal letter, make your typed, formal letter no more than three to four paragraphs long and no more than one page long.
  8. Close your letter appropriately – “Sincerely,” followed by your full name, works perfectly to close formal letters.
  9. Proofread your work – Review your letter afterward to ensure no writing errors. It can help to set your letter aside for a few hours and come back to it to give you “fresh eyes” to review it. Consider also asking someone to review your letter.
  10. Address and mail your letter correctly – If you have questions about how to address and mail a letter, look up instructions online.

Apply for the Carl R. Young Memorial Scholarship
If you are seeking funds for college, and you are a Dinero Teens member, put your letter-writing skills to good use by applying for the Carl R. Young Memorial Scholarship from Advancial. High school graduating juniors and seniors can apply to win one of four $2,500 scholarships. For more details, visit our Carl R. Young Memorial Scholarship page.