Writing Effectively at The World Health Organization

Planning formal letters

If you are writing a formal letter, usually it will be a letter signed by someone in a superior position at WHO. Formal letters must be approved by the office of the signatory to the letter.

The approval process can include several stages, depending upon the position of the signatory to the letter. Approval will be delayed at each stage by any errors, including errors in the form of address, opening, closing, and tone or diction. Formatting is important, and specific; make sure you know where each component of the letter belongs on the page. Punctuation and spelling are also critical. Follow the steps below to help ensure you don’t delay the approval process.

  1. Refer to the resources for requirements on salutations, openings and closings: the Guide to Official Correspondence, and the OLA Official List of Addressees.
  2. If there is a deadline for your letter, make sure you build in revision time to your timeline for the task.
  3. Proofread closely (more than once) before you submit your letter for approval and signature.

© WHO 2011