What is formal writing?

Formal writing is often used in academic and business work, and is characterised by a serious tone.

What is a formal letter?

A formal letter is one written in a formal style, and usually in a specific format. These are generally written for official purposes and not to friends or family.

1 | Formal and informal writing worksheets

To give your students a more-rounded view of what formal and informal language is, and the differences between them, these resources will help you out.

First, this letter writing to a friend pack provides opportunities for Year 2 pupils to develop comprehension and writing skills, and includes a model text with questions and answers, plus a fully resourced writing task and a PowerPoint.

These formal and informal language story starters for Y6 task you with interviewing an athlete, using formal language for the interviewer and informal for the athlete.

These Year 6 formal writing challenge sheets test children’s knowledge and application of formal and informal language with SATs-style questions.

And finally, this formal language tarsia puzzle challenges children to match informal words and phrases to their formal equivalent.

2 | The art of letter writing Paddington pack

Another one to ground younger students in letter writing, before delving more into the formal side of things, this resource for EY and KS1 from Rachel Clarke uses the beautiful new Paddington Bear book from HarperCollins to help children discover the singular joy of writing and receiving messages in the post.

In this download you’ll find Rachel’s full lesson plan, featuring six activities and all accompanying resources.

Get this resource here.

3 | How to write a formal letter

A great place to start with writing formal letters is this BBC Bitesize entry.

It explains that a formal letter has a number of conventions about layout, language and tone that you should follow; that there are set places to put addresses and the date and that how you begin and end the letter is also very important.

There’s a short video to watch, and it takes you through the key points about the address, the tone and purpose of the letter and how to start and finish it, before offering a five-question quiz to see what students have learnt.

Check it out here.

4 | Formal and informal letter examples

If you’re after examples of formal or informal letters, you can download loads at Literacy Wagoll. Plus, as they’re all Word docs you can edit them specifically for your class if you need to.

Download as many of these as you like, here.

5 | KS2 letter-writing lesson plan

In an age of email and instant messaging, letter writing remains an essential skill. This lesson plan is based on The Train to Impossible Places by PG Bell and invites you and your KS2 pupils to immerse yourselves in his magical world, where impossible becomes possible!

The lesson uses a series of ‘Top Tips’ from postmaster and letter writing expert, Wilmot Grunt – inspiring children to find the fun in writing, to improve comprehension and inference skills, and to help them compose their own letters.

Download it here.

6 | Features of formal letter writing and template

This guide walks through how to write a formal letter, and comes with a downloadable template document for students to use too.

Check it out and download the template here.

7 | Formal letter template worksheet

Alternatively, this PDF template may not be editable, but it has blank lines for children to write on, which can be more convenient that everyone working on PCs, depending on your school’s setup.

Download and print here.

8 | Letter of complaint activity

Two bad experiences; one a dodgy dining experience and the other a failed shopping trip. Use the information given on this worksheet to write a formal letter of complaint.

Plus, if you’re after various letter-writing ideas for students to try, this downloadable PDF has a nice selection.

Get the letter of complaint activity sheet here.

9 | Ten letter-writing activities

Letter writing can be fun, help children learn to compose written text, and provide handwriting practice — and letters are valuable keepsakes.

This article contains activities to help children ages 5-9 practise their skills of formal and informal letter writing.

Check out the list here.