Almost as many types of correspondence (letters, memos, e-mail) exist as there are reasons for writing them.
Letters are an essential means of communication among organizations, businesses, and their customers; memos and e-mail are the primary means of communication within organizations.
Goodwill is important in business relationships. Empathy with your reader—that is, writing with your reader's needs foremost— establishes a good rapport. Such empathy is frequently called the "you" viewpoint.
Good formatting reflects the "you" viewpoint and the professionalism of the writer. Accuracy and appearance enhance content. A courteous, professional tone gets the best results.
Different types of correspondence follow established patterns and strategies, although your audience and the purpose of the correspondence may call for adapting it to suit your particular needs.
Following are some of the most common types of business correspondence. (Note that correspondence may take the form of a letter, a memo, or an e-mail, depending on the circumstances.)
An inquiry letter is a request for information. The request should state clearly and concisely what information is needed, who is requesting it, and what use will be made of it.
A response to an inquiry should answer all questions politely and tactfully.
A cover letter identifies an item being sent, the person to whom it is being sent, and the reason for sending it.
An acknowledgment letter, often sent as a courtesy, reports that something has been received.
A reference letter evaluates the performance or ability of an applicant for a job, promotion, or scholarship.
An acceptance letter, written to accept a job offer, should identify the position and salary one is accepting.
A complaint letter should be businesslike and logical; it should not sound "whiny." Rather, it should demonstrate that the writer is registering the complaint calmly and expects the situation to be corrected.
An adjustment letter is written in response to a complaint letter and tells the customer what the firm intends to do about the complaint.
A refusal letter addresses a complaint, an inquiry, or other situation with a negative reply. Such letters or messages must be prepared with utmost care.