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Formal Vs. Informal Communcation (Email Vs. Print)

Brief Description/Purpose

To illustrate the difference between formal and informal communication and writing, and more  particularly between email and more formal communication on paper.



Age Appropriate

Children, Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size


Time For Exercise

15 minutes


Communication, Formal writing, Email

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Prior to the course, prepare two "communications" about a topic that might be of interest to the group. One should be an informal email format, while the other should be a formal letter on the exact same topic.

Below is an example (using British English).

 Formal vs informal communication example

Either display each of the communications one by one, or have a copy of each one to give out to participants.

Here are some possible discussion questions to explore the difference between formal and informal communication, and email vs. more formal printed text and letters.

  1. These two "messages" are virtually identical in content, but quite different in terms of expression. How do they differ?
  2. Is one more clear than the other?
  3. When is more informal communication a good idea? When not?
  4. When is more formal communication required? When should it not be used?

Add your own to suit the specific points you are trying to make. 

Additional Information if Available

You can alter the exercise to have people actually practice each "mode" on a topic of their choice. This is a very flexible exercise.