What are Some Occasions When Written Letters are More Appropriate Than Email?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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With the Internet now being present in almost every household, written letters have become a thing of the past. Why spend time and money to write something down on paper when you can send a quick email and reach somebody in a question of seconds? The answer is that, despite the popularity of email, sometimes a written letter can be much more powerful. Emails get lost and are sometimes ignored, but most of all, they are seen as more informal and less powerful than written letters. So when is a written letter a good idea? Here are a few examples.

If you are writing to elected officials, such as members of Congress, a written letter will more than likely get you a response. A well-structured letter sends the message that you have taken the time to think through your complaint or request, and it will be a more compelling argument than an email could ever be.

If you need to send an apology or a thank you note, a written letter will convey your message more strongly than a few emailed lines could ever do. A written letter shows the recipient you care enough to go through the trouble of actually writing something, buying a stamp, and finding a mailbox. Other type of messages, such as wedding invitations and Christmas newsletters or cards, preserve the tradition of the written letter.


If you are writing a letter of recommendation for somebody, be it a former employee or a student, a written letter is the preferred form. This is because a written letter feels more permanent, while an email or fax will seem outdated a few weeks after it was first sent.

The general rule is that formal situations are better handled through written letters than through email. Even through email has become the most popular form of communication nowadays, it is still seen as informal by most people, and does not carry the same weight than written letters.

Finally, remember that written letters can convey the feelings of the writer much better than an email. If you are sending a message to a relative or writing to a long-lost friend, opt for paper. The power of written letters arriving on your home cannot be compared to the simple click of an email reaching your mailbox.


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Post 4

@Babalaas- Having a professor write and seal multiple copies is a good idea. I have never thought about that. You may want to check with individual schools about this technique to make sure it is acceptable. I know it is for transfer students delivering transcripts, but I am not sure about graduate schools.

@CHicada- You should talk to someone in your registrar’s office or career services office. Often they will compile a file of your graduate file, keeping official copies of test scores, pre written letters of recommendation, and transcripts on file for future use. You can simply contact the department when you need them to make an official copy of the document in question. These documents will possess the

raised seal of your institution, and will be sent directly to the recipient. These types of letters are perfectly acceptable, especially if it has been a few years since you were last in school, and subsequently in contact with your professor.
Post 3

@Chicada- A well written letter of recommendation can be priceless. At the same time, graduate schools want letters that the directly from the professor or University. In your situation, most graduate schools will hold your letters, transcripts, and other documents on file for at least a year. That way, you only need to pay the application fee and fill out the application to re-apply.

You should also try to apply to multiple schools, so that you can have options as far as financial aid packages are concerned. If you are a stellar student, you can bargain a little with graduate schools to get better financial aid packages. Ultimately, the graduate school wants to attract the best students, so work on

marketing yourself.

You may also want to consider having your professor give you multiple copies of each letter on University letterhead, hand signing the back of the sealed envelope. In this case, you can retrieve letters from your file and send them to the graduate schools as needed.

Post 2

If a professor has written a letter of recommendation, is it possible to save a digital copy to be printed for later use? I am applying to graduate school, but may not be able to enroll this year if accepted. It all depends on the financial assistance I am offered, and whether I am accepted. I do not want to have to bug my professor year after year for multiple letters of recommendation. What should I do?

Post 1

The hand written letter writing is so important, and somewhat of a dying art, that a month of January is actually dedicated to the hand written letter writing.

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