How do you introduce the whole content of a letter written by a character in a novel? I am guessing there are many ways, but I would like to know what are the most popular ways to do it and if you could give me an excerpt that shows how it's done. I thought just writing the letter in its whole with the same formatting as written would be a possibility, but I am not sure how you would do that in the middle of a chapter. I am not sure if there needs to be an introductory text or not.

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    Have you read any books with letters in? Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


Sealing Wax and all that Fancy Stuff:

I don't know if there are any hard rules on this in fiction. I have done this in a couple of instances in a novel where the society has regressed and doesn't trust electronic communication. The formatting is a little wonky in these answers, so I'll just explain.

First, make it clear in your writing that someone is reading a letter - I'm not entirely sure what you mean by introductory text, but people should definitely know it's different. I adjust the indent in, so all lines start further in. I give an extra space in the document for a clear separation between the letter and the rest of the text. Then you follow standard letter format for letter in that culture. It should end up something close to this:


She paused, struggling with herself, desperate to read the letter, yet terrified of what it might say. Finally, she opened it and began reading.

Dearest Clara:

My heart goes out every day I am apart from you. My soul becomes weak at your absence, and I must steel myself to continue fighting this bitter war. Stay true to me as I battle the forces of tyranny and oppression.

With Love,

Your dearest Claude

Her heart leaped with joy to know he was alive and still loved her.


Then afterwards, you leave another extra space and switch the margins back. But the most important thing is that it is distinctive. A publisher will 'clean' this up and put it in whatever format they want, but they need to know that this is distinct and to set it apart. So you could change the print size, or font, or put the whole thing in italics. If someone is reading this aloud, then it should go in quotes, possibly even a quote within a quote, like, "'Murder!' is what it says. That's all," he replied.


The above answer is definitely another way to do it! You can even go about using italics or a different font that is readable but would emphasize that it's a letter in different handwriting that separates from the text.

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