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 contact a client. Or perhaps you need to send an appreciation letter, a business announcement, or a resignation or retirement letter.
Regardless of the reason you're writing, it's important to send well-written correspondence that's carefully proofread and edited.
Not sure what to write or how to get started? 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
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 Your Promotion."
- Contact information: Include all your contact information—full name, address, phone number, and email address. That way, 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 can include a brief, “I hope you are well,” or some other friendly introductory phrase. Then, dive right into explaining why you are writing.
- The primary purpose of your letter: The main part of your letter will focus on your reason for writing. 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 name. If you are emailing the letter as an attachment, just include your typed name. When your email is the letter, include your contact information below your typed name.
How to Use Letter Examples
It is a good idea to review examples of letters and emails before writing your own correspondence. 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 for your letter, you should always be flexible.
Be sure to take the time to personalize your letter or email message, so it reflects the specific reason why you are writing.
Business Email Message Sample
Review a sample email message written as a follow-up to a meeting.
Email Business Letter Example
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. Also, I appreciate your advice about my writing portfolio—it was so kind of you to really dig in and share your ideas on 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.
LinkedIn URL (optional)
Types of Letters With Examples
Review this list 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.
A business letter is professional correspondence. 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.
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.
- Employee Letters
- Excuse Letters
- Goodbye Letters
- Late for Work Apology Letter
- Mistake at Work Apology Letter
- Salary Reduction Letter
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:
- Name Change Announcement - General
- Name Change Announcement - Maiden Name
- Name Change Letter - Married
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 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.
- Application Letters
- Cover Letters
- Inquiry Letters
- Job Application Letter
- Job Search Help Request Letters
- Networking Letters
- Value Proposition Letters
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.
- Academic Recommendation Letters
- Character Reference Letters
- Personal Recommendation Letters
- Professional Letters
- Professional Recommendation Letters
- Recommendation Letters for Employment
- Reference Letters
- Referral Letters
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 Letter Writing Guidelines
Review these guidelines for writing letters and email messages that will get read before you start your letter.