Blog Post

When informality breaks convention

We live in informal times when many of the conventions of the written form are breaking away.

Emails are more likely to start with ‘Hi’  than ‘Dear’. And the sign-off ‘Cheers’ is now more common than ‘Regards’.

I quite like a chatty, informal email. For me, email sits in the space between a formal letter and a phone conversation.

But what about a printed letter? And particularly, what about a printed letter or notification from a bank?

I received a notification from ANZ last week, attached to a printed statement. It’s not really a letter, as it’s not personally addressed. But I can’t help wonder whether a formal letter might have been more appropriate.

ANZ letter

I was struck by the ‘Hi there’ in place of a salutation. I’m not sure that I want my bank adopting a chatty, informal tone when it writes to me. It somehow lacks the formality that I feel is appropriate for an organisation that manages my money.

This is a plea for writers to consider the relationship between author and reader, and to consider what tone the reader is likely to expect. I didn’t expect ‘Hi there’ from ANZ.

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