Types of Professional Business Letters

Business letter drafted on company letterhead with cards
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In the professional world, you will often need to write a business letter or send a professional email. From applying to a new job, writing a thank you note, sending a note of apology, or sending a farewell email when you depart, there are many circumstances that will require an appropriately formatted letter or email.

How to Write a Business Letter

A business letter is a formal document, with a set structure. As you can see from the examples in the links below, a business letter has a very defined format. A business letter includes contact information, a salutation, the body of the letter, a complimentary close, and a signature. 

There are rules for everything, from how wide the letter's margins should be to what size font to use.

In general, it's wise to keep the body of your business letter direct and brief. Explain why you are writing in your first paragraph, provide more specifics in the next paragraph, and use your closing paragraph to reiterate your reason for writing. End by thanking the recipient for reading, and possibly mention follow-up plans.

Below, you'll find a list of business letter examples for a variety of employment and business-related correspondence, as well as tips on how to write an appropriate and effective business letter. Use these samples as a starting point when you have to write your own letter.

Business Letter Example

Following is a business letter example. See below for more examples.

Business Letter Example (Text Version)

Jennifer Lastname
{Street Address}
{City}, {State} {Zip Code}
555-555-5555
email@email.com

November 14, 2018

Michelle Lastname
Manager
The Company Name
{Street Address}
{City}, {State} {Zip Code}

Dear Ms. Lastname:

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me to discuss selling my handmade sweaters in your wonderful shop.

As I mentioned in our conversation, I’ve been a customer of your store since I used my third-grade allowance to buy my very first pair of knitting needles. I’m honored that you’d consider selling one of my original creations at The Yarn Company alongside your own work.

We discussed a trial consignment arrangement in which a portion of the sales would go to the store. This is more than agreeable to me.

Let me know how you want to proceed. I’m available most afternoons at 555-555-5555, or you can email me at email@email.com, and I’ll respond to your message ASAP.

Thanks, and best,

Jennifer Lastname

Business Letter Template and Format

There will be many occasions where it is proper and correct to write a formal business letter. As a manager, you may want to write to apologize to a business or person, send condolences to an employee for a loss, and thank someone for the participation or support they gave to a business effort.

This business letter template includes all the information that should be included in a business letter. There are examples of each section of the letter, and tips on how to choose a style for your correspondence. The proper format includes an appropriate layout, font, salutation, spacing, closing, and signature for business correspondence.

Business Apology Letters

Use an apology letter when you or the company have made a mistake, behaved poorly, missed a scheduled event, or in other circumstances where you've messed up and need to apologize. Apologies can be given to customers, vendors, and employees.

Appreciation Letters

Very often, feedback at work is dominated by the negative. If someone you work with closely does a great job, don't miss the opportunity to give praise and positive feedback. Sending a letter is a nice way to let employees, co-workers, colleagues, clients, and others know how much you appreciate them.

Business Thank You Letters

You will often depend on the efforts of others to realize a goal. If someone does you a favor or helps you out in any way, always remember to send a thank-you note. Thank you notes can include those sent to thank a company for the opportunity to interview with them, a client to thank them for the time it took to show them your product, and vendors who go the extra mile to get an order to you on time.

Candidate Rejection Letter

When you are in charge of hiring, you will need to inform job applicants when they do not receive the position for which they applied. A candidate rejection letter is sent to an individual who was not selected for a job.

Congratulations

Everybody loves to be recognized for their achievements, even if it's just a quick email message or a handwritten note. Send these to employees to celebrate a promotion or special life event like marriages or having a child. Clients appreciate congratulations on their achievements as do the vendors you work with. This type of letter helps to build strong networks that help in all aspects of the business world.

Email Messages

While it's often nice to send a handwritten or printed out note in the mail, in some situations, it is okay to send an email. Emails are especially appropriate in the workplace as you communicate with coworkers and colleagues. The use of email to transmit formal letters to clients and vendors will be limited. However, there are occasions where a short, formal, well-written email will convey your thoughts well.

Employee Letters

As a manager, there will be occasions when you will want to or be asked to write an employee reference letter. These letters may also include the offer of a job or position in your company. Job offer letters, a job rejection letter, counter offer letters, are related to offers of employment.

Employment Verification

Employment verification letters are often requested by landlords and lenders to confirm that a person is employed at a company.

Farewell

A farewell message will let colleagues, clients, and your connections know that you are moving on. Sending a farewell letter is a good way to update people with new contact information so you can keep in touch in the future. Networks are hard to build and you need these connections to succeed.

Letter of Inquiry

Use inquiry letters to request meetings and to inquire about products and services, and ask about job opportunities that haven't been advertised. These letters are a way to get your foot in the door at a prospective client, vendor, or employer who hasn't publicly listed available jobs.

Job Promotion

Send an employee a job promotion letter that gives information on the promotion, including the new title, salary, and the date the employee is transitioning into the new role. You may also want to send an email to let coworkers know of the promotion of an employee to a new position. These efforts build strong teams.

Networking

Job search and career networking letters need to be formal and business-like. These letters can include a request for reference or referrals, letters of introduction, and networking outreach letters.

New Employees

When a new employee joins your team you should announce their presence so others know they have a new coworker. Send welcome letters to a new employee, as well as details on the onboarding process they may encounter. Be sure to offer a hand if they have any questions.

Reference Letters

See examples of reference letters, recommendation letters, personal references, professional references, character references, and academic references.

Referrals

Referral letters can include the request for a referral from an employer, letters referring employees, a colleague, or an acquaintance for a job. This format also works well when referring a vendor to another company.

Letter of Resignation

If you are planning on quitting a job, you should write a formal letter of resignation. review these resignation letters and email examples. They can be used in a variety of situations, including resigning with notice, resigning over email, and resigning effective immediately.

Retirement

Retirement can be a stressful time for an employee. Managers should always notice these life events with a formal letter of congratulations. Employees who are retiring can write a letter thanking their employer for the years of work. You may also like to send an email to coworkers to announce the occasion.

Termination Letter

Termination letters are for terminating an employee from an organization. These letters must be approached with care as there are many issues that could—if handled incorrectly—put a business at risk. Termination letters can be used when letting an employee go for a cause or in the case of a layoff or business closing situation.

Microsoft Word Letter Templates

These are just a few of the many varieties of formal letters you may need to write during your business career. You may find the first few letters you write to be complicated, but with practice, you will soon be a pro. To begin with, you may find it helpful to do a topic search on this website to see examples of any particular letter you may need to compose.

Also, it can be helpful to start with a template. Microsoft Word templates are available for resumes, cover letters, resignation letters, reference letters, and interview letters.