Types of Business Letters

In business, you’re always reading and writing because business people use written or printed documents to get their ideas and thoughts across to other people. Almost all forms of business writings are strictly formal since they are written by serious people for serious business.

A business letter is a professional, formal letter that is sent by one business entity to another.

Whether you need to tell a potential client about your product, collaborate with another company, convince someone to attend your event, or give a thank you note – a well-written business letter can stand out.

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Business Letters

A business letter typically starts with the date, followed by salutations, content in the body, and ends with a signature of the person writing it. There are different types of business letters depending on circumstance:

Acknowledgment Letter

An Acknowledgement Letter is sometimes known as a Letter of Receipt. It is just a formal piece of writing which does not put across anything more than just a confirmation.


Apology Letter

An Apology Letter is a formal piece of writing with the object of simply saying sorry for a situation or inconvenience that happened. It usually also contains an outline of the measures being taken to solve inconvenience. This type of letter should convey a positive tone even when saying something negative.

If possible, the writer usually has to accept their responsibility in the circumstance and then show sincerity about measures being taken towards rectifying the problem.

Appreciation Letter

An Appreciation Letter is also known as a Thank-You Letter or Letter of Thanks. This type of letter is usually written by senior management to the junior management expressing gratitude appreciation for a job well done. It should convey a positive motivational tone.

Business Invite

A Business Invite is a type of formal invitation letter reaching out to a business entity to invite them to attend an event hosted by the writer’s company. When writing such a letter, write it in such a way that it builds anticipation about the event. Clearly mention all the important details, such as the date, time, and venue.

Due to the formal nature of business events, an business invitation letter should be formal as well unless its for a casual gathering, in which the tone should reflect that.

Circular Letter

This type of letter is written to a closed group of people but with the purpose of being circulated widely. It is usually used to inform customers about a sale or news or intimate about important information about newly launched products.


Complaint Letter

This type of letter is written to express disappointment formally. It should to highlight actual problems that need to be rectified. No matter how big the complaint is, the letter should not sound like the writer is nagging, but should just be firm enough to highlight that writer wants the issue to be taken seriously.

When writing a complaint letter, don’t use an emotional or angry tone. Just state the entire facts that led to the complaint. An example of when a complaint letter can be written include to report a bad business experience, such as poor customer service, or when their products didn’t meet your expectations.

A complaint letter can include the steps to rectify the problem or the expected compensation. Usually the recipient of a complaint letter replies with an acknowledgment letter and then an apology letter.

Cover Letter

As their name implies, Cover Letters are usually written to accompany something more, such as to describe what comes with them and what should be done with it.

For example, job applicants usually submit a cover letter along with their resumes. The cover letter outlining their greatest career & life achievements. It should include information on why the writer thinks they are qualified for the position they are applying for and whether the writer is a student or an experienced professional.

Follow Up Letter

A Follow Up Letter is usually sent to make a “follow up” on some initial communication or engagement that has been made with the writer. As an example, this type of letter can be written to review decisions taken in a meeting.

Inquiry Letter

A Inquiry letter is a type of letters that asks direct and detailed questions from the recipient.


Order Letter

An Order Letter, also know as a purchase order, is formal letter usually written by a individual or a business to another business requesting for the purpose of placing orders on products or services. An individual can also request a firm and place an order. This type of letter can also be used as part of the legal records, documenting the transaction between the buyer and seller.

When writing an order letter, be clear and straightforward in order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion. Clearly include all the necessary information required by the seller to deliver the order and get the payment.

Payment Letter

A Payment Letter is a formal written request for payment. It is usually used as a reminder to the customer whose payment date is due or just about to be due.

Recommendation Letter

This type of letter is usually written by a previous employer or institution to recommend an employee who is just about to be hired. It is one of the requirements that employers usually ask for before hiring or dealing with someone. A Recommendation letter contains the relationship between the applicant and the recommend person or entity.

Resignation Letter

This type of letter is written when an employer plans to leave his job or post. It is usually written to a senior worker explaining why and when the employee is planning on leaving. When writing a resignation, keep it simple and stick to the facts.

Always remember that a resignation letter is not a complaint letter, it should not contain complains and critiques. Be courteous and thank the company for having had the opportunity to work with them. Choose your words carefully because your letter would likely be made public, especially if you are a high ranking employee.

Also, avoid the impulse to write anything bad about the company in the resignation letter. Your paths might cross again in future or your next employer might require a recommendation letter from them.

Sales Letter

This the most common type of a business letter. It is usually written as an introduction for the customer about the product or service the company is offering. It typically starts off with a marketing statement that captures the interest of the reader.

A sales letter has to ensure that the reader takes an action and hence it should include a clear call-to-action, such as a website link, phone number, social media handles, etc.


Juliet Muturuki

Quantity Surveyor and Freelance Writer.

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