Email vs. Traditional Letters

This is an essay I wrote for my College English class last spring. Not intended to be a copy of Elizabeth J's post on the very same subject @ Footprints in the Sand.

In today’s hectic world people look for quick, easy and colorful ways to communicate. Some people prefer to use the quick and simple means of the email, while others prefer the handwritten affection of a letter. People use the email because it allows them to quickly type up a letter and send it to anyone in a matter of minutes. Unlike an email, traditional letters are becoming rare in our modern world of communication. A traditional letter takes more time to prepare than an email, but a letter has something no email can provide—intimacy. A letter is personal, it isn’t something you can quickly type up; it has to be planned, proofread, signed with love and personally placed in the mail box.

When looking for a quick way to send information, people prefer to use the email option because of its quick and effective process. People are able to go online from home or at work, type up an email, and within a matter of minutes it is received. Unfortunately, it does come with a costly Internet fee. On the other hand, a traditional letter can be tedious and a long, slow process, but you can write a letter wherever you are as long as you have paper and a pen. Sending a letter, nevertheless, isn’t the cheapest or fastest way to correspond; it can take up to three days or longer for a letter to reach its intended destination.

When comparing an email and a traditional letter, we find that an email allows you to automatically check spelling and grammar while a letter has to be checked by hand. Emails permit people to write as if they were talking directly to someone, and that can create bad habits, such as misspelled words and misused grammar. In addition, emails do not help perfect and maintain legible penmanship. A traditional letter, on the other hand, is a more personal way to correspond. Unlike an email, when writing a letter, people have to make sure that their penmanship is neat and readable; otherwise it will be very difficult for the reader to understand the letter. Contrary to an email, where there is the spelling and grammar checker, in a letter people are forced to look up any words that they cannot spell in the dictionary, and the grammar in your grammar book or other resource. It is very important to make sure that the grammar and spelling are correct so that the letter will flow nicely without any confusion.

There are things you can do to an email that you could never do with a traditional letter, such as using the backspace, copy and paste buttons on your computer. All of those tools make corresponding by email a lot easier than having to tear out the first draft of your letter and start all over on a clean page. In an email you can add animations and graphics to give some color and creativity to your message. But there are problems with these creative extras—for instance animations can contain computer viruses that damage or destroy computer software. With a traditional letter you are not able to automatically add animations or graphics to your paper. In order to add creativity to your letter, you would have to draw or color something by hand which can take time. However you do avoid the threat of a computer virus, and the person who receives your letter will be able to enjoy your art.

Both an email and a traditional letter are great ways to communicate. A letter is more personal than an email; it allows you to practice penmanship and to focus on grammar, punctuation and spelling. As for the email, it is quick and simple; it allows you to automatically check spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and even add graphics and animations at a click of a button. People’s preferences for these two forms of communication depend on how much time they have, if they know how to use a computer, and whether or not they enjoy writing a traditional letter.


  1. I agree, wonderful post! :) I was going to say applouse (sp?) so instead I will say "bravo!" :)

  2. Ooh, this must be the week for Email VS Letters -- I just did a post on it too, after reading Elizabeth J's post -- she's obviously given us all something to think about...



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