Types of Business Letters: Formats & Examples

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  • 0:05 Penning a Letter
  • 0:38 Business Letters
  • 3:12 Quick Communication Letters
  • 4:00 Internal Written…
  • 5:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Business letters are a great way to communicate on the job or in an office setting. In this lesson, you'll learn more about various types of business letters that can be used to convey your message effectively.

Penning a Letter

In today's age, there are lots of ways to communicate. Email, text messaging, social media, and other types of electronic forums make communication quick and easy, but sometimes there are situations where digital communication just doesn't quite fit the bill.

Maybe you're job hunting, or you're already on the job and need to draft internal communications in a more formal way. Luckily, the lost art of letter writing is still widely used in business, and one of the various types of letters discussed in this lesson may be the perfect fit for your needs.

Business Letters

Business letters can range from a cover letter that accompanies a job application to a formal complaint to be written and delivered. Here are some typical business letters you may encounter in office communications:

  • Cover letters are sent with job applications and are addressed to an employer from a job seeker. They typically accompany a job resume and highlight an individual's education and skills. This type of letter generally refers to the open position and introduces the job seeker's resume while explaining experience and skills the applicant has that are relevant to the job.
  • If your credentials and education meet the needs of a potential employer and you've applied for a job, you may be sent an interview letter, which invites you to speak with the company in question about the open position. An interview letter will typically include the date, time, and location of the interview and include any additional steps the job seeker should take, such as bringing additional copies of a resume to the interview.
  • All has gone well with your interview, and you've received an offer of appointment letter. This is a formal way of offering you the open position and will include things like a start date and a deadline for accepting the offer. It may also accompany and introduce other included documents such as a salary offer and benefits.
  • An inquiry letter might be sent from a plant manager to a supplier in an effort to learn more about a product or service. The inquiry might be requesting more information about a product, pricing, availability, bulk orders, or discounts. Whatever the intent, the inquiry letter serves to help one person ask a question of another in hopes of receiving a reply.
  • A quotation letter, frequently called a ''quote'' for short, generally comes after a letter of inquiry when a buyer is considering a purchase and needs to know pricing on the item in question. A letter of quotation might also ask for pricing or volume discounts if many items are being ordered.
  • After an inquiry and a quotation, a formal letter may be drafted to place an order for the desired items. A letter of order confirms the details of a purchase of goods or services from one party to another. It should list quantity, specific items desired, pricing, and any other pertinent details to the order. It functions as a contract of sorts between the two parties.
  • If you're unhappy with a purchase, a formal letter of complaint may be a first step in trying to get a resolution to the problem. A complaint should be written professionally and should include the basics of the problem, the steps taken to try to resolve the problem so far, and what you would like the company to do to remedy the problem.

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