What Is a Form Letter? Benefits, Best Practices and Examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published January 3, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A form letter is a document that helps you communicate with a large audience, streamlining the writing process and saving you time. You can use form letters for a wide range of purposes, such as invitation, donation or medical collection letters. Familiarizing yourself with this type of document can help you craft one for your own personal and business purposes. In this article, we explore what a form letter is and why they're beneficial, including best practices for creating one and a few examples you can reference for inspiration.
What is a form letter?
A form letter is a type of template that standardizes the letter writing process. This makes creating a new document for each unique recipient unnecessary. You can simply reuse a form letter as many times as necessary. The only requirement is that you change certain data points to clarify who the letter is for, such as the recipient's name, date, address and other basic information. People who receive or send substantial amounts of business correspondence—such as politicians, business executives, authors and media professionals—often use form letters to help them communicate in a timely manner.
Most general form letters include boilerplate text, or phrases that are standard to the letter's future purposes. The boilerplate text is useful because you can reuse it within new documents and contexts without having to make substantial changes to the first version. While form letters can differ significantly depending on their purpose, many include the following sections and boilerplate text:
Sender's full business address
Recipient's basic information
Sender's basic information
Benefits of a form letter
There are several benefits of using a form letter, such as:
Cost-saving opportunities: One of the primary reasons why form letters are so beneficial is because they're cost effective. Being able to reprint or duplicate the same letters repeatedly may lower the production and labor costs.
Time-saving strategies: Implementing form letters into your workflow and correspondence can save you substantial amounts of time because it eliminates the need for manually writing unique letters for each recipient. You can use the time you save to work on other important personal or business matters.
Reusability: Other than making minor adjustments for each letter, no substantial revisions to the document are necessary, giving the letters longevity and high value for your workflow.
Automated options: Depending on the industry and purpose, you can automate form letters so that they fill in with each recipient's basic information and details. This is especially useful when sending form letters through email or an online document portal.
Ease of reading: Since most of the text on a form letter is retained for each document, it's generally easier to read for every recipient. A document that's readable helps to reduce confusion and misunderstandings regarding the included material.
Universal applications: A primary benefit of form letters is that they have universal applications, meaning anyone can use them for a broad variety of purposes. For example, you can use form letters for things like event invitations, real estate buying proposals and nonprofit fundraising requests.
Ease of modification: You can easily modify your form letters to meet the specific needs of your audience and recipients. It's usually only necessary for you to make minor adjustments in just a few areas on the form letter, such as the recipient's name, address and current date.
Streamlined quality: By using form letters, you can expect the same level of quality for each document that you send to your recipients. This may help assure you that there are no discrepancies or substantial errors in your letters.
Standardized brand voice: Because form letters follow a very uniform style, you can make it so all your documents embody your specific brand's style and voice. This standardization makes it easier for you to develop a positive reputation for providing recognizable and consistent correspondence with your recipients.
Best practices for creating a form letter
Here are five best practices to follow when creating a form letter:
1. Define the purpose of the letter
There are many reasons why you may want to create a form letter, such as accepting new students into a university or proposing a new civil infrastructure project for the locals of a small community. The general purpose of your letter may determine how you craft it. Since all the documents using the form are going to share most of the same content, it's important that you clarify this element beforehand so major corrections aren't necessary when you resume the form letter template in the future.
2. Use universal language
When writing your original form letter, make certain that you employ universal language. This means words, phrases and language that are easy to understand for most of your target audience. Try to avoid using slang or regional lingo unless they fit the specific purposes of your document. Attention to this detail helps prevent confusion among your recipients. If you need additional assistance getting the language correct for your target audience, you can hire a professional writer to help you craft your form letter.
3. Include boilerplate text
One of the primary elements of a form letter is the use of boilerplate text. It's common practice to include boilerplate text at the beginning and ending of the letter and then interspersed throughout the document as needed. Phrases like, "Thank you for taking the time to visit our website" or "Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the impacted families" are both examples of how certain companies include boilerplate text when they have a wide audience they want to reach but don't have the time to write out a unique message for each one.
4. Determine a uniform format and style
The style you choose for your form letter ultimately depends on the type of document you are crafting. The document type may change the placement of your boilerplate text and other text placeholders. For example, if you are making a form letter to serve as a vacation voucher, then the format that you use may be a bit more informal and brief. In contrast, the style of a form letter for business is more formal and detailed.
5. Make changes as needed
After you finish crafting the first draft of your form letter, review it and see if there are any areas where you can make improvements. Look for style, grammar, spelling and content errors, verifying that all aspects of the document are accurate and of high quality before you deliver it to the recipients. You can enlist the aid of an editor or use editing software to help you further review the quality of your document.
You can also run your document through an automated editing program so it can detect and correct errors for you. It's a good idea to review the document again after this process since some programs may make changes you do not want.
Examples of form letters
Here are a few examples of form letters for different occasions. In these examples, the bracketed text represents information that the writer or designated software can customize for each recipient:
Here is a form letter inviting guests to a formal company event:
Office of the President
535 Old Oak Way
West Covina, CA 91723
December 10, 2021
Dear [Recipient name],
I'm writing this letter to invite you to celebrate President Clarke's twentieth year of service to the university. President Clarke wishes to celebrate this achievement with the entire campus community, as each department, including [recipient's department], have helped make West Covina University the outstanding institution it is today.
The celebration will take place on [event date and time] at [event location]. Please see the enclosed campus map for details. West Covina University dining services will provide lunch and refreshments.
If you have any additional questions or simply want to confirm your attendance, please don't hesitate to contact me at 909-888-6267, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there.
Here is an example of a form letter for requesting donations:
Happy Hearts of Lawrence County
7634 Flora Drive
Ogdensburg, NY 45090
November 2, 2021
Dear [Recipient name],
It's that time of year when Happy Hearts of Lawrence County launches its annual holiday fundraiser. Due to the increasing challenges that families are facing in today's society, your donations can help us provide holiday presents and gifts to deserving children and families. We are hoping to exceed last year's fundraising total of [insert last year's total], so any amount you are willing to donate is significantly appreciated.
Alternatively, you can also donate a toy or gift directly to our donation processing facility located at [insert location address]. For additional assistance, you can visit our FAQ page at [insert web address], or you can contact me via email at email@example.com.
We thank you in advance for your continued support in bringing holiday joy to everyone in our community.
Head donation coordinator
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