Is It Better to Write or Type a Letter?

Should you write or type a letter?
As you may have noticed, I love “it depends” questions because then we can look at a question from every possible angle. Quite a lot of what’s about to follow is personal opinion, so feel free to join the debate if you don’t agree. After all, it just makes it all the more interesting for everyone. The choice between writing a letter and typing a letter is influenced by the reason for writing, so we’ll look at business letters and friendly letters and argue the pros and cons of writing or typing under these categories.

Write or Type Business Letters

If you want to be taken seriously in this day and age, you would certainly choose to type rather than write when sending a business letter. The only part of a business letter you should write by hand is the signature. Here are some of the reasons it’s appropriate to type rather than write a business letter.

  • Your handwriting may not be all that easy to read.
  • You can’t as easily make changes to a handwritten business letter, so even if you draft it several times, you may not express yourself as well when you write by hand.
  • A typed letter looks neater and more professional, no matter how neat your handwriting is.
  • If your keyboard skills are up to scratch, typing is a lot faster than writing.
  • Spell check can save you from embarrassment. Yes! I spelled “embarrassment” correctly the first time! Can you?

In the business world, handwritten letters are extremely rare, but there is one place other than the signature where I feel handwriting offers a special touch. If you’re thanking someone with a brief note, the kind that gets written on ‘compliments slips’ or greeting cards, then I think writing by hand is more personal.

Write or Type Personal Letters

There’s still something lovely about getting a letter via “snail mail.” Should you write it or type it? I doubt whether anyone would be offended by a typed letter, and it has the advantages of being easier to write, easier to edit, and easier to read.

Still, a handwritten letter is a labor of love and provided it’s legible and well thought out. I think most people would acknowledge that you went to extra effort on their behalf with a handwritten personal letter. What’s more, any errors that sneak in will be forgiven because you’re presumably writing to someone who is close to you. They like you, even love you, and it’s probably not for your skill at spelling.

Before you decide to give a personal letter a special touch by writing it with old-fashioned pen and paper, know what you’re letting yourself in for.

  • You need to plan ahead by creating a rough framework so that your thoughts flow logically.
  • You’ll have to write at least two versions and possibly more.
  • You need to be able to write neatly so that it’s easily readable.
  • You need the right equipment.

Choose attractive note paper, and if you struggle to keep your lines straight on paper without lines, choose paper with ruled lines. Another option is to use slightly transparent paper that will let you see a sheet with ruled lines when you place it beneath the page you are working with. Choose a pen with ink that won’t easily smudge, and pick a dark colored ink. Gold may look pretty, but it isn’t easy to read a full letter written in gold pen. Black ink is best.

Additional Advantages of Typed Personal Letters

One thing you should remember about handwritten letters is that you’ll get less text on each page. If you have a lot to say in your letter, typing is probably a better solution. You don’t want to end up trying to cram a ten-page missive into an envelope.

If you’re planning to write to several people, you can “cheat” just a little bit. It’s easy to adapt the introductory and closing paragraphs with personal messages for each recipient while the body text remains the same, or nearly the same, for all the letters you’re going to send.

Last but not least, if your letter gets lost in the post, you’ll have a copy saved on your computer and won’t have to rewrite your letter from scratch.

When’s the Last Time You Sent a Handwritten Letter?

Handwritten letters are quite rare these days. I think that their rarity makes them rather special. If I were to write a love letter, I believe I would choose a handwritten letter. What would you do?

(Photo courtesy of Annie Pilon)

  • If you are writing to a friend or loved one, always right by hand. If it’s a more formal letter, always opt to type. Those are my simple rules.

  • Do people even write letters these days? That seems so old school and such a waste of time. There is a thing called e-mail and texting. I’m 22 years old and I don’t think I’ve ever received a letter in the mail other than from companies or utilities. I think in this day and age letter writing is obsolete and the only people who would consider doing it and out of touch of the reality of today’s technology.

    • How obnoxious can you be? Just because you may not write letters doesn’t mean that they aren’t cherished by others. When’s the last time you’ve reread an email time and again as I often do with the letters I’ve received? What you may think as antiquated shows how much you care for someone.

    • With this kind of mindset you’ve portrayed in your comment, you probably won’t ever receive a personal letter from someone.

  • Well,I would receive handwritten official letters especially in cases where I’d need to do an unmanipulated check into the writer’s personality.

    …And about making errors in handwriting,why do typos exist?

  • These days writing a letter maybe out of fashion or something like dope but to maintain or enhance our skills in writing or using words i will always recommend you to write letters especially to your loved ones or friends who live far away. The advantage with typing is that it promises to reach on time if its something formal we want to write it is always better to write a letter well we do use texts to save time that is actually better than writing letters but writing letters can create that need to read the thing . Writing to beloved ones and getting letters from beloved ones is always better than just texting them. These days some children don’t even know how to write a letter they just text due to this the kids get spoiled always using the computer or the phone to chat and stuff. i recommend all parents to encourage their children to write letters to their loved ones at least. That’s all from me
    thank you

  • For friendly personal letters, if I have all the time to spare , I’ll take the time to write the letter by hand. My handwriting isn’t that great, and it’s time-consuming to try to make it legible. JFK’s handwriting is a quadrillion times more legible than mines. If, OTOH, I’ve got other disasters that are waiting for my immediate attention , then I’ll type the letter in my old, dusty and trusty, manual 1919 Oliver typewriter. I’m pretty fast at typing on this typewriter, mistakes and all. I don’t go back worrying about typos, misspellings, grammar, punctuation, cross-outs. It’s a single take, and it’s a wrap.

  • David McCullough, the famed historian, once said, “If you want to do future historians a favor, write letters and keep journals on high quality acid free paper. We don’t know how long emails will last.” McCullough said that he discovered, while researching his book 1776, that letters and journals kept in archives from that era were still easily read because they had been written on acid-free cotton “paper.” I write letters to my kids and grandkids either hand written on quality paper or using my manual Olympia typewriter. I talk about what is happening in the family and world. I so wish I had letters or journal entries from my great grandfather who was a Confederate cavalry soldier who fought at Shiloh. What was he thinking? Letters are wonderful.

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