Comparing Types of Business Correspondence

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  • 0:01 Types of Correspondence
  • 0:32 Letters
  • 1:22 Memos
  • 1:56 Email
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Just as you might expect, the varied needs of the business world mean that there are plenty of different types of correspondence available to be used, depending on the circumstances. This lesson compares types of business correspondence and explains when they should be used.

Types of Correspondence

In any office, you'll encounter a variety of different types of correspondence. After all, unless you live on a deserted island with no desire to escape, everyone has to communicate. However, how you communicate makes a huge difference in the business world, just as it does in your social life. You wouldn't send a mounted courier to tell someone that you're running 15 minutes late to dinner, now would you? In this lesson, we'll look at the most common forms of communication in the business world, as well as when each is appropriate to use.


The most formal form of communication for most business purposes is a letter. Depending on the purpose, a letter can take a variety of different forms. Most often, these take the form of one entity communicating with another. For example, when working with clients, much of your communication will be in the form of letters. These messages can take the form of anything from a letter accompanying a bid to a contract to a letter thanking a client for choosing your company, but in any event, it will take the form of a letter.

Still, some letters are written internally. When you applied for your job, you likely wrote a brief cover letter to explain why you think you're an attractive candidate. Likewise, when you were offered the job, you likely got an offer letter including expectations and salary. Finally, when you leave a job, you'll likely write a letter of resignation stating your reasons for leaving.


Certainly, in some instances, letters are written for internal purposes. However, most formal writing that takes place within an organization is in the form of a memo. A memo is a formal document that describes a change or policy to the members of a team. That team can be a whole organization or just a department, while the change or policy could be anything from a new hire to a new policy about requesting leave. In any event, memos are written in a certain way to allow them to quickly be read and processed, but still be considered formal for the purposes of being official.

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