Types of Business Letter: a Quick Guide

Letter writing is one of the most common ways of passing information between people. Companies often exchange business-related letters with individuals or other companies.

That said, there are various types of business letter writing that can be classified into different groupings. Knowing the types of business letters will help you in your letter-writing process and also in the way your company is perceived.

It’s good to know the types of business letters commonly used by different companies, so you can write a letter effectively.

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Types of Business Letter Writing

Depending on whom you ask, you may get contrasting views on the types of business letter writing. The contrasting views are due to the fact that some categorize business letters based on tone. Conversely, others categorize them based on their purpose.

This article covers both categorizations to make sure you get all you need.

Types of Business Letters Based on Tone

Based on the tone of the business letter, there are three types. They are formal, informal, and semi-formal.

Formal Letter

A formal letter is a business letter written in a formal tone. This type of letter is usually straight to the point and doesn’t waste the recipient’s time.

Formal letters generally require you to write in a formal and professional tone. It requires the writer’s signature as well. Traditionally, all business letters were meant to be formal letters. However, some business letters now adopt less-formal tones. 

Informal Letter

An informal letter is a type of business letter exchanged between two persons that know each other. The tone is laid back and not as strict as formal letters. Informal letters also follow a similar format to that formal letters, albeit without pronounced formality.

Semi-Formal Letter

A semi-formal letter is a hybrid of a formal and informal letter. The writer knows the recipient but isn’t close with them. Semi-formal letters are typically more formal than informal letters, and they carry more weight.

They are usually reserved for business-related situations and might include formal language like “affirming” or “respecting.”

Types of Letters Based on Purpose

Based on the purpose of a business letter, we can have as many as 10 types. They include complaint letters, adjustment letters, sales letters and cover letters.

Complaint Letter

A complaint letter is a formal letter sent to a company or institution to lodge a complaint. People send this in the hope that the company will take action to resolve a customer service issue or concern.

The letter often opens with a section expressing the writer’s complaints. The letter can then discuss how the customer feels the organization let them down and why the letter is necessary. It then ends with a paragraph listing the names of the individuals you’re contacting to convey your complaint.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a letter addressed to a specific person, which asks them to review the job qualifications of the applicant. It is often used as a follow-up letter to a resume sent to a potential employer.

Adjustment Letter

An adjustment letter is usually a response to a previous complaint. This type of letter is used after the complaint is resolved, but the person needs additional assistance or needs to make a change. 

Resignation Letter

When an employee wants to leave a job, they write a resignation letter to their employer. The employee usually includes details like how long they’ve worked for their company and the reason for resigning.

In addition, they may include what they’re hoping for from their employer in the future. When an employee’s resignation letter is thorough and includes enough details, their employer will usually be satisfied with their decision to leave the company.


This article offers an important overview of the most common types of business letters and details each type. Now, you can approach different types of business-related letters with more confidence.

With this type of knowledge, you can compose a more considered, effective, and personal letter that matters to your recipient. For faster output, you can take advantage of the Hey INK tool to generate a business letter in seconds.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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