Types of Letter Writing

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  • 0:03 A Question & An Answer
  • 0:24 Two Main Types of Letters
  • 1:21 Business &…
  • 2:28 Legal Letters
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Letter writing is an established and important part of communication. While there are many different types of letter writing, it's important to know which type to use and when. In this lesson, you'll learn about some types of letter writing.

A Question & an Answer

There is a famous story of the shortest letter in history. Victor Hugo, a famous French author, wrote his publisher to ask how sales of his new book, Les Misérables, were doing. His letter consisted of only a question mark. The response from his publisher was only a big exclamation point. Hugo's new book was selling very well.

Two Main Types of Letters

There are many types of letters. However, most types of letters fall into two main categories: inquiry letters, like Victor Hugo's letter, and information letters, like his publisher's response. Inquiry letters request something: an action, a request for knowledge, or a change of some type. Information letters give details and important, useful pieces of information and knowledge.

In other words, letters usually ask for something or give something. Old-fashioned friendship letters or postcards asked for information or gave information about someone's life or a trip they took. Thank you letters give information thanking someone for something. Even love letters give information about how someone feels or ask for love in return.

Let's now take a look at some more specific types of letters. These will fall under two main categories: business and professional letters and legal letters. Though of course, there are many others - too many for this brief lesson - but let's dive in and see what these writings are all about.

Business & Professional Letters

There are many kinds of business and professional letters, and they generally fall into the inquiry and information letter type. One major type of business letter are complaint letters. Complaint letters are letters to a business or a local, state, or national government official talking about a problem or asking a question about services. These letters usually have an idea of how to fix the problem or are asking for a solution.

Employment letters are very important because they are usually considered legal documents between you and potential, current, or previous employers. Employment letters include job search letters, which ask a company or organization if there are jobs available. There are also cover letters that go along with many job applications. These are professional letters telling your interest in an available position, what you did in previous employment, and what you could do for the company.

Employment letters also include recommendation and reference letters, which tell of a person's qualities and characteristics. They can either come from previous employers or colleagues and trusted people with important positions. The same is true for resignation letters, which are used when someone decides to leave a company or organization.

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