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How to write a letter to someone you haven't seen in awhile

Updated April 17, 2017

As we go through life, we meet many people in school, at university or at a place of employment. It can be a challenge to keep in touch with everyone over the years. Writing a letter is an ideal way to reconnect with an old friend or acquaintance in a thoughtful way. The letter should update the person on developments in your life and encourage further communication.

Open the letter with a friendly greeting. For example, "Dear George". The word "Dear" is the most common opening for a letter. It suggests warmth and openness in the correspondence. If you are reconnecting with an old professor or someone you have a formal relationship with, use a prefix with he last name, such as "Dear Ms. Smith".

Open the first paragraph by recognising the amount of time that has gone by since you were last in touch and why you wish to reconnect. For example, "I can't believe it has been five years since we last spoke, how the times flies. Your name came up in a conversation the other day and I just wanted to see how you are doing and what you have been up to."

Inform the person of recent developments in your life. This summary should remain brief and simple and should function as a way of catching up. For example, "Jordan has just gone off to college so I am adjusting to living in an empty house. Work with the bank has been going steadily along and I am happy to announce I will be retiring next year. I plan to do some travelling and take some time for myself."

Ask about the recipient of the letter. Sound interested in their life and any new developments since you last spoke. For example, "How has life been treating you up in Scotland? The weather must be beautiful this time of year. I hope all of the kids are healthy and happy."

Write a final paragraph that encourages future communication. Let the person know you are interested in hearing from her and let her know how to contact you. Include your address, e-mail address or a phone number. For example, "I would love to hear all about your life over the last five years. Please don't hesitate to write back."

Close the letter with on a friendly note, such as "Best Wishes" or "Kind Regards" followed by your signed name underneath the phrase.

Use informal language. Contractions and idioms are ideal to use in an informal letter. Keep the language simple, friendly and straightforward.

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About the Author

Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.