15 Types of Business Letters (With Purposes and Components)

Updated 6 September 2023

Many people in different professional industries write and receive business letters at some point in their careers. People write letters when applying for jobs, communicating updates to team members and providing feedback to other companies. Learning the different business letters can help you know which variation is most appropriate for your needs. In this article, we discuss the 15 different types of business letters and explore the common components of such letters.

Related: Business Letter: Format and Example

Types of business letters

Here are some of the most common types of business letters and when to use them:

1. Cover letters

A cover letter is a business letter typically sent with your resume when applying to a job. While not all employers require a cover letter, it is a great opportunity to explain your professional experience, qualifications and interest in the company and job. Cover letters are often one page and include:

  • Contact information

  • Salutation

  • Purpose of the letter

  • A brief overview of your skills and experience

  • Conclusion

Related: How To Format a Cover Letter (With Example)

2. Letters of recommendation

You might write a letter of recommendation on behalf of another professional to verify their qualifications and work ethic. A letter of recommendation can strengthen an application for employment, higher education or another professional opportunity. Some jobs require recommendation letters from two to three people who can discuss your qualifications for potential roles. Letters of recommendation include:

  • Relationship of the recommendation

  • Evaluation of the candidate's qualifications

  • Examples

  • Closing statement

3. Interview follow-up letters

An interview follow-up letter is a message you send to interviewers to thank them for their time. This shows hiring managers you are respectful and grateful for their consideration for a position. Be sure to send this follow-up letter within a day of the interview to express your thanks and to reiterate your interest in the position. Include key details from the interview that show how you were actively listening. Components of an interview follow-up letter include:

  • Interview overview

  • Expression of thanks

  • Your skills and qualifications

Related: How To Write A Cover Letter For College Admission In 7 Steps

4. Offer letters

An offer letter is one that employers send to inform a jobseeker that they want to hire them. These letters often accompany a verbal offer. Within the letter, you find key details about the position, including salary, start date, benefits and other employment terms. Candidates respond and choose to accept the offer, negotiate terms or decline. Parts of an offer letter include:

  • Job description

  • Job title

  • Projected start date

  • Salary

  • Benefits

  • Requested acceptance timeline

5. Sales letters

The purpose of a sales letter is to introduce a service or product to a client or customer. Sales professionals often use these letters when contacting prospective buyers or strengthening relationships with longtime clients. Sales letters help you personally connect to clients. Components of a sales letter include:

  • Product description

  • Cost

  • Invitation to purchase or try a product

6. Letters of commendation

Employers write letters of commendation to express pride and gratitude for exceptional performance. These show employee appreciation, and managers might send them out to the entire staff to congratulate an employee for successfully completing a project. This can boost an employee's morale and encourage other employees to excel. Parts of a commendation letter include:

  • Purpose of letter

  • Details of success

  • Invitation to congratulate

Related: How To Write an Appreciation Letter (With Example)

7. Letters of resignation

A letter of resignation informs your employer of your intent to resign. While you may verbally notify your coworkers and employer of your plans to leave, many organisations prefer an official letter to file. Employers may request multiple copies of this letter to file with managers and human resources. Components of a resignation letter include:

  • Declaration of resignation

  • Reason for resigning

  • Last day

  • Thank you note

8. Thank you letters

A professional thank you letter is an important way to let colleagues, employers, vendors or other business contacts know you value their time or efforts. Sending a professional thank you letter can build rapport with the recipient and communicate your intentions for the future. It might be appropriate to send one after someone helps you with a job search when a customer makes a purchase, or if a business awards you a contract. You can also send a formal version letter to express your general appreciation for someone.

  • Greeting

  • Reason for writing

  • Details of the interaction

  • Closing

Read more: How To Write a Professional Thank You Letter

9. Complaint letters

Consumers most often send complaint letters to businesses when they are unhappy with a service or product. Businesses may also occasionally need to write a complaint letter if a vendor or service failed to meet their expectations. For example, if a company sold new database software that frequently closed without saving work, an employee may write a complaint on behalf of the company. Components of a complaint letter include:

  • Formal greeting

  • Expectations at the time of purchase

  • Description of the issue

  • Expected resolution

10. Apology letters

An apology letter is an important tool in the workplace that acknowledges a mistake, expresses regret and asks for the recipient's forgiveness or patience. Apology letters create a formal record of your admitting to and attempting to rectify a mistake or failure. Parts of an apology letter include:

  • Acknowledgement of the mistake

  • Apology

  • Remediation plan

11. Office memorandum

An office memorandum or business memo is a short yet formal document used for communication between the business and its employees. Effective memos are brief and easy to navigate. The document is primarily for internal use, such as an announcement regarding changes to personnel within an organisation or updates on company gatherings. Parts of this letter include:

  • Clear subject

  • Memo objective

  • Breakdown of key points

12. Welcome letters

A welcome letter is a formal way of introducing a company or employee and provides basic information to the recipient. For example, while a new employee welcome letter provides employees with the information to help them better prepare for their first day of work, a new customer welcome letter thanks the customer for their business and summarises the company. Overall, these letters use a welcoming tone to help establish a greater working relationship. Parts of a welcome letter include:

  • Greeting

  • Personalised note

  • Company overview

13. Request letters

A request letter is a way to formally ask for something in the workplace. You can use this letter to request a raise, a training class, a recommendation or even a meeting to ask for a promotion. Letters of request can also be a beneficial way to gain specific information. Parts of a request letter can include:

  • Explanation of the request

  • Supporting documents

  • Timeline expectations

14. Announcement letters

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. The letter is typically short and written as a formal note. Components of announcement letters include:

  • The announcement

  • Additional details

  • How the announcement affects the recipient

15. Termination letters

Employers write termination letters to document the reason and terms for a terminated employee. These typically follow verbal notice that a person's employment will end. Human resources departments or managers might write these for terminated employees. Components of a termination letter include:

  • Employee information (name, position)

  • Termination date

  • Reason for termination

  • Additional terms or details

  • Next steps

Read more: How To Write a Termination Letter (With Template and Sample)

12 parts of a business letter

Standard across most types, here are the main parts of a business letter:

  • Heading: Include your name and contact information, such as an address, phone number and email address. You might also include a company logo in the header.

  • Date: the date you send the letter

  • Reference: Applicants may reference a job position or customers may refer to the order information when filing a complaint.

  • Recipient's address: the details of the recipient including their address and contact information

  • Subject: Include the topic of the letter. If you are writing a complaint letter, the subject can be the order number

  • Salutation: the formal greeting directly addressing the recipient

  • Body Paragraphs: the full text with details of the letter and relevant information

  • Closing: the last paragraph in a business letter that includes what the writer expects from the recipient

  • Signature: Some letters require a handwritten signature in addition to a typed signature.

  • Enclosures: Consider including your contact information. You may not need to include this if you have shared your contact details in the heading.

  • Copy Circulation: the additional recipients for a letter

  • PostScript: You can include an additional message after the writer finishes an article. You can note this with P.S. and your text after your signature.


Explore more articles

  • What Is Descriptive Analytics? And How To Implement It
  • Quality Assurance Vs. Quality Control (With Differences)
  • 20 Innovation Tools To Enable Ideation And Implementation
  • 11 Corporate Training Programmes For Organisations To Offer
  • What Is A 3PL Company? A Guide To Third-Party Logistics
  • How To Password Protect Zip Files: A Complete Guide
  • What Is Data Visualisation? Importance, Types And How To
  • What Is Anchor Text? (With Definition, Impact And Tips)
  • 25 Zoom Icebreakers To Start Your Next Team Meeting
  • What Is Account-Based Marketing? (And How To Use It)
  • What Is A Marketing Plan? (Definition And How To Create One)
  • A Comprehensive Guide To Creating An Executive Dashboard