Different Types of Letters With Examples of Each

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Do you need to write a letter for business, professional, or employment purposes? The content and format of the letter you write will depend on the circumstances. You may need to write a letter or email message to apply for a job or to contact a client. Or perhaps you need to send an appreciation letter, a business announcement, or a resignation or retirement letter.

See a list of types of letters, as well as examples of each. Also, review a list of elements to include in any business letter or email.

What to Include in a Business Letter or Email

Katie Karpel. © The Balance 2018

In some instances, what you include, how you write the correspondence, and the format of the letter will vary. However, a basic professional letter will include the following:

  • Subject line: If you are sending an email, include a clear subject line that concisely explains the purpose of your email. For example, it might read, "Subject: Congratulations on Promotion."
  • Contact information: Include all your contact information — full name, address, phone number, and email address — so it's easy for the person you are contacting to respond to you. In a letter, you will include this information at the top of the page (you will then follow this information with the date, and the contact information of the person to whom you are writing). In an email, you will include this information in your email signature, below your name.
  • Greeting: Include a salutation at the start of your letter. Make sure you use the appropriate name and title for the person.
  • A brief introduction: After your salutation, include a brief introduction. This might include a brief, “I hope you are well,” or some other friendly introductory phrase. Then, dive right into explaining why you are writing.
  • The main purpose of your letter: The main part of your letter will focus on your purpose. When writing the letter, be concise. Two or three paragraphs are plenty. Your letter shouldn't be longer than one page. If it is an email, it should be even shorter. If you have additional information to share with the reader, offer to discuss it during a call or provide an attachment or enclosure with the details.
  • Closing: End your letter with a professional closing that conveys your thanks and respect. Closings like “Sincerely,” “Best,” and “Regards” work well.
  • Signature: If you are mailing a hard copy of the letter, include your handwritten signature above your typed signature. If you are emailing the letter, just include your typed signature.

Sample Email Business Letter

Subject: Thank you for meeting with me

Dear Mr. Markham,  

I appreciated you taking the time to chat with me today about ABC News Company, and the ever-changing media world. As I approach my graduation date from XYZ Journalism School, I'm full of questions about the roles available in media. Your insights gained from your career in the industry, as well as your perspective on ABC News Company's five-year plan, were incredibly helpful. 

I was particularly struck by your ideas on long-form journalism, along with the help (and problems) that social media can provide investigative journalists. You've given me much to think about as I embark on my job search. And, I'm so appreciative for your actionable advice about my writing portfolio — it was so kind of you to really dig in and share your ideas for how to structure it. 

I look forward to staying in touch, and will let you know how my job search progresses. I hope you'll keep me in mind if any roles open up at ABC New Company, too. Thank you again for taking the time to meet today, and for your thoughtful notes on my portfolio. 

Sincerely, 

James Fitzpatrick

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How to Use Letter Examples

It is a good idea to review letter and email examples before writing your own. Examples allow you to see what kind of content you should include in your letter. They can also help you with the layout and format of your letter.

While examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point to your letter, you should always be flexible. Do be sure to take the time to personalize your letter or email message so it reflects the specific reason why you are writing.

Types of Letters With Samples

Review this list of a variety of letters and email messages with examples of each, including appreciation letters, cover letters, job application letters, employee letters, reference and referral letters, thank you letters, and more.

Use the samples as a starting point for your own letters, then customize your letters so they fit your personal and professional circumstances and reasons for writing. 

Business Letters
A business letter is a professional message. That means it follows a set format and a professional, formal tone. You'll use this format frequently throughout your job search, from cover letters to thank you notes. 

Employee Letters
Even when you have a job, you'll still need to write professional correspondence. This is a bit different from day-to-day emails regarding work-related issues and communications. In this kind of correspondence, you'll likely want to be a bit more formal and keep your language — and letter format — strictly professional. 

Informational Letters
Sometimes you'll want to correspond with people to let them know about a change in your life, such as a name change or a new office location. Here are examples of how to share that you've changed your name with colleagues and co-workers: 

Job Applicant Letters From an Employer
If you're involved in hiring, you'll have to correspond with job applicants. Sometimes this will be with good news, such as scheduling an interview or making a job offer. Other correspondence may require sharing less positive news. 

Job Interview Letters for Job Seekers
As well as sending a thank you note after an interview, you may also find that you need to send a follow-up letter to find out if the employer is close to making a hiring decision. Or, if you miss the interview entirely, you'll need to send an apology.  

Job Offer Letters
It's great news, of course, to get a job offer. But in some situations, you may actually decide to reject the job. Or, you may want to make a counter offer. Review these letters to see the best way to respond to a job offer, whether you're taking the job, declining it, or want to try to adjust the compensation package. 

Job Search and Networking Letters
The job search process is full of moments when you'll need to send a letter. You may want, for instance, to reach out to your network for help making connections. And, of course, as you apply for roles, you'll need to write application or cover letters to accompany your resume. 

Recommendation and Referral Letters
Both job applicants and people applying for admission in college or graduate school may find themselves in need of a recommendation or reference letter. These letters, which may be from teachers, work supervisors, colleagues, or personal connections, provide insight into an applicant's experience, character, and personality traits. If you haven't written this kind of letter before, take a look at samples to see what information to include. 

Resignation and Retirement Letters
You can share news of a new position, or your retirement, through a letter. You may want to send one note to colleagues, and a different one to clients. 

Thank You, Appreciation, and Congratulation Letters
If someone helps you during your job search or with a big on-the-job project, it's thoughtful to acknowledge this favor in a thank you letter. You can also use letters to send your congratulations to colleagues as they have major accomplishments, like landing a deal or getting promoted. 

Review these guidelines for writing letters and email messages that will get read before you start your letter.