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The Right to Write

Handy hints for writing letters requesting information

Many of the activities on this site require that you, the learner , to research further into a topic. This will usually mean writing a letter. you should write whenver you feel the need for futher information and not just in response to a particular activity.

This sheet is to help you write letters in the most effective way.


To whom
A United Nations department or Specialized Agency
To your Member of Parliament or other representative
To a non-governmental organization
To an expert in a particular subject


Why?
To express your opinion
Too obtain further information
To encourage a particular subject


How?
Address it properly—librarians and teachers can help you with names, correct titles and addresses
Use your own words not those of someone else
Be clear regarding the issue you are writing about
Be brief
Give reasons for your opinion
Try to show understanding of other opinions
Be construcive and suggest alternatives
If you have expertise, share it
Ask for a reply and to be kept informed if it is appropriate
Ask questions but don’t be too demanding
Include a complete return address
Type or use your own handwriting—so long as it can be read it doesn’t matter which
Use headed notepaper if possible but make sure you have permission to use it if you do
Enclose a stamped-addressed envelope


More handy hints
Leave at least one month for a reply. Most non-governmental organizations and United Nations Information Centres have only limited resources—this is why your letter must be to the point and specific. It may take some time for them to reply.
If you want information ask for it specifically—don’t ask for ‘everything you have’!
First paragraph—explain why you are writing and who you are.
Second paragraph—state your case or request for information.
Third paragraph—close on a positive note.

  adapted from The Right to Write by former US Congressman Morris K Udall,
  and Primary School Kit on the United Nations


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