Writing an Appeal or Request
When to Write a Letter:
Many universities require the writing of a letter. A letter is sometimes the most effective way to send a particular message. When talking to someone, using e-mail or filling out a form haven't worked or aren't practical, try a letter.
The elements found in the typical letter are:
a.) Full mailing address of the sender
b.) Date on which the letter is sent
c.) Address of the recipient
d.) Subject line
f.) Body (the main message)
g.) Complimentary closing
h.) Signature line (be sure to sign your letter)
i.) Enclosure and copy notations
CONTENT AND TONE IN A LETTER:
While the appearance of the letter is important, the tone and the content will determine whether the letter really does the job. Review any relevant policy and pay particular attention to what the decision maker needs to know to consider an appeal or request.
Opening Statement: The first sentence or two should state the purpose of the letter clearly.
Be Factual: Include factual detail but avoid dramatizing the situation.
Be Specific: If an appeal or request depends on particular facts which the decision maker will want to verify. be specific.
Documentation: Include any documentation required by policy or needed to substantiate your claims. If documentation is being sent by a third party, state that with details.
Stick to the Point: Don't clutter your letter with information or requests that have no essential connection to the main message.
Do Not Try to Manipulate the Reader: Threatening, cajoling, begging, pleading, flattery and making extravagant promises are manipulative and usually ineffective methods.
How to Talk About Feelings: It is tempting to overstate the case when something is important to us. When feelings are legitimate part of a message state it as a fact.
Be Brief: It is more work to write a good letter than along one. Busy decision makers appreciate the extra effort that goes into composing a good short letter.
Avoid Errors: A letter will make a better impression if it is typed, free of spelling and grammar mistakes, free of slang and placed in the right sized envelope. BUT it is more important to meet deadlines and state the purpose clearly than to submit a letter which is completely error-free.
Keep Copies: Until a matter is settled, keep copies of all letters sent or received, as well as relevant documents and forms.
*Portions of this page were created by Frances Bauer, University of Western Ontario, used with permission*