16 Types of Business Letters To Boost Your Written Communication

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's common to receive and draft business letters on a daily basis in the workplace. It's the most professional form of correspondence that emphasises a message's importance and urgency. Learning about the different types of business letters can improve your written communication so that you can communicate with greater authority. In this article, we explain what a business letter is and describe 16 types of business letters for different occasions.

Related: How To Write a Business Letter (With Tips and an Example)

What is a business letter?

A business letter is a formal document that has a goal of communicating important information to the recipient. Usually, it's sent via mail from a company to its employees, stakeholders or customers. Although emails have taken over other communication methods in the workplace, a business letter holds a significant amount of authority. When people receive a formal letter, they usually know to take its contents seriously. It serves as an official record of information that secures the attention of companies and encourages those involved to respond.

16 types of business letters

While most business letters share the same format, they may differ in their purpose. The following is a summary of the 16 types of business letters so that you which style is appropriate for your needs:

1. Cover letter

When applying for a job, it's a professional courtesy to send a cover letter along with your CV. A cover letter allows you to describe your skills and experience with examples and stories that present you as the ideal candidate for the role. This one-page document has enough space for you to convey your genuine interest in the role. A customised letter can also create a personal connection with the recipient.

Related: How To Write a Cover Letter

2. Letter of recommendation

You might request a mentor or former supervisor for a letter of recommendation when applying for a new job or to gain admission in a higher education program. Similarly, a close colleague may also request you to write a positive endorsement about them so that they can secure a lucrative opportunity. This sort of business letter helps authenticate the subject's claims.

3. Interview follow-up letter

An interview follow-up letter can increase your chances of getting hired. It shows your genuine interest in the role and allows you to fill in any gaps from your discussion. Interview follow-up letters have a short and simple format. In it, you can cover three main points. First, express your gratitude to the recruiter, then share any additional details and end with a call to action.

4. Offer letter

An offer letter is an official business letter that employers send to professionals that they're interested in hiring. Offer letters have a rigid structure. Usually, employers start by congratulating you before going into the finer details of their offer. In it, they may include information about your compensation package, the contract duration and any obligations you need to fulfil.

5. Sales letter

Companies send out sales letters to inform people about their products and services. Typically, this business letter appears to have a similar structure to an advertisement, whereby it uses a catchy introduction to gain your attention, then goes into the details of their promotion and ends with a compelling call to action. You might send a sales letter to launch a new product or to update your audience about your latest offerings.

6. Letter of commendation

Letters of commendation are a form of employee appreciation, and companies send them out to the entire staff to congratulate an employee for a job well done. To write a letter of commendation, first, establish the person who's being commended and the specific task that requires recognition. You can end your letter with a call to action that encourages other employees to follow in their lead.

7. Letter of resignation

When you receive another job offer or desire a change of environment, it's common to submit a resignation letter to your employer. This business letter acts as an official notice of your resignation from a company. It includes details about your last day, your reason for leaving and how you intend to assist during the transition period. It's a polite courtesy that gives employers adequate notice to prepare for your departure.

Related: How To Write a Resignation Letter (With Examples)

8. Thank you letter

Send a thank you letter to someone who has been of significant help to you. Unlike a thank you note, a thank you letter has a more formal format, and therefore it's suitable to recognise the effort of a valuable team member. An effective thank you letter contains details about the subject's actions and your appreciation for them. You can also use this letter to motivate people to uphold desirable behaviours.

Related: How To Write a Thank-You Letter After an Interview

9. Complaint letter

When a company or individual has not followed through on their promises, you might send them a complaint letter to reprimand their behaviour. Using the business letter format to express your dissatisfaction with the subject's behaviour can force them to take your feedback seriously. You may even address your letter to their supervisor to ensure they make the necessary changes.

10. Apology letter

When you need to issue a formal apology to a company or an individual, you might write an apology letter. Unlike most business letters that have a formal tone, an apology letter is more sincere and gentle. It allows you to correct wrongs and maintain your professional network. When writing this letter, it's important to state why you want to apologise and how you intend to correct your mistakes.

11. Office memorandum

Companies use an office memorandum, or a memo, to communicate official information to their employees, such as notifying them of policy reforms or personnel changes. Effective memos are brief and easy to understand. They contain a clear beginning, middle and end, and follow an inverse pyramid structure, whereby information is ordered by its level of importance.

12. Welcome letter

You might write a welcome letter to put a new colleague at ease or to establish a personal connection with a customer. This communication device is a great way to help them prepare for their first day at work. For example, for a new employee welcome email, you can introduce yourself and your team members, and share key employee information with them, such as the location of the lunchroom or the printers. When corresponding with a customer, a welcome email can make them feel more loyal to a company, which can also result in increased sales.

13. Request letter

When you want to ask someone for a favour in a corporate setting, you may write a request letter. This is an important procedure because it creates a paper trail that shows your diligence in getting your work approved. Some common requests you might make via email include an annual leave request email or a request for an official employment verification letter. Either way, make sure the instructions in your message are clear to avoid any delays in the approval process.

14. Announcement letter

A business announcement letter is a letter sent out to employees, vendors, customers or the press to declare something of note for the company, such as a change of policy, an employee or management change, a merger, a takeover, a product release or an event. Depending on the purpose of your letter, the style of your announcement letter may vary. For example, if your letter is for public relations purposes, you might use a more enticing tone to attract attention than you would in an internal announcement letter.

15. Termination letter

Employers write a termination letter to dismiss an employee from their current position. Since termination is a sensitive subject, pay close attention to your mode of address while writing one. The most effective termination letters remain professional from start to finish. They include only relevant details, such as the reason for dismissal, the contract termination date and any compensation that they're entitled to.

16. Inquiry letter

An inquiry letter is a quick yet effective way for professionals to network with other businesses. The goal of this sort of business letter is to learn more about a product or service, gain some relevant expertise, clear up a misunderstanding or establish a partnership that's beneficial to both parties. Usually, an inquiry letter begins with a polite greeting to establish a rapport with the recipient before going into the details of their inquiry or request.

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