Semi-Modern Personalized Letter Writing

A couple of days’ later a note came in the mail addressed to me in a spidery, Spencerian script. The penmanship had the dignified flavour of the last century, and was the least bit shaky, as if the writer were unwell or very elderly. I had never seen the hand before, but guessed who it was before I opened it.
“Magic Inc.” by Robert A. Heinlein

Letters are fairly out of use in today’s society when the only things that come per postal mail are usually invoices and other (negative) things. However, they do have their uses.

Personally, I love sending letters, although it’s hard to find people who appreciate them. In a way, letter writing might seem stupid, after all, an eMail is much faster, so is a text message or a simple phone call. Even worse, letters are prone to misunderstandings, given that they are rarely sent. I think some people look for an explanation for the “extra-effort”. And looking at past interactions, there might have been many instances where people confuse my basic ways of interacting with the world/people with special interests. Hmm, a surprisingly accurate assessment from a just-for-fun test I once got was:

“You are a good ally to have, but people might be hurt if they believe your universal good will is a sign of a close friendship. You are nice to everyone, but you know who your true friends are.”

And yeah, using letters to accompany things I send might be part of that misunderstanding.

So, besides this caveat — writing physical letters is great! And there are ways you can make letter writing much, much easier.

For example, I love using Fern Letterfolds. You write a letter and then fold it in a way that you do not need an envelope. Especially useful if you only write one page. There’s a good graphic on how to fold the letter on this page, and an okay video here (I would suggest avoiding the first fold, and with the last two, the folds that go in the wrong direction. With some sense of proportion they are not needed.). Best to first fold the letter, then write on the inside (if you want to stay inside of the unfolded rectangle.

If you do not want to write a letter by hand, it’s easy to create a template. Personally I use InDesign, but it’s also possible to use Word or Pages or whatever. Just fold the letter, then draw the areas where you want to put the text (incl. the sender and recipient name), scan it and rebuild it in the program of your choice.

fern_1.png
Scan of a Fern Letterfold with the fold-lines and the areas for text (inside)

 

fern_2.png
Scan of a Fern Letterfold with the fold-lines and the areas for text (outside)

Recreated with InDesign:

fern_indd_1.png
Rebuild with InDesign (inside), the squares with X’s are for putting in graphics.

 

fern_indd_2.png
Rebuild with InDesign (outside).

 

Exported to PDF and duplex printed (short-edge binding) you get a neat letter.

Of course, if you write a letter, best do it by hand. Still, sometimes it’s just nice to use a nice font. Anyway, you find the InDesign file here and the PDF of the scan here (simply insert it into your writing program, put it in the background an put Text Boxes in the respective places).

BTW, if you do the effort to write a letter, why not use custom paper? There’s paper made for letter writing (a bit thicker with a nice texture). Strangely enough, it also works fine with a laser printer.

Have fun 🙂

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