The Purpose of Writing a Business Letter

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Business letters, even since internet use became popular, are the best and most utilized method of communication between businesses, employees, and job seekers. A business letter is any kind of formal letter sent to or received by a business. It can be solicited, meaning asked for by someone, or unsolicited, which are unexpected. Business letters come in five main types, all with different purposes in mind: responding to someone, asking permission for a project, petitioning something, acting as a cover letter, or applying for a job. Knowing the different purposes of a business letter can mean prosperity for individuals and companies in any business venture they pursue.

Delivering a Response

Business letters can be sent to deliver a response directed at a request for something a person has applied for. These are usually sent to an individual from a business. Businesses or organizations can respond to an application for a job, funds, a scholarship, or admission to a program. The response can either be bad news, which is usually buried and cushioned between kind, polite words and advice, or good news, which often comes attached with a congratulations and further instructions. For legal purposes, response letters from businesses are always written as politely as possible so as not to excessively offend anyone.

Asking for Permission for a Project

Business letters can be used for the purpose of asking the permission of a company to help with any project, such as to allow filming on company property. These types of letter answers the question "is this project reasonable?" to convince the company that if they do not help, they are the ones being unreasonable. If the project is reasonable, included are reasons why it will not hurt the business's reputation, bank account and employees. A business letter can also ask permission for a project by trying to convince the business that the project is beneficial for it. This occurs by providing background information, history or the kinds of profits the company will gain in return.

Petitioning Something

A business letter can be sent for the purpose of petitioning a problem that affects a group. This letter includes a description of the problem or opportunity, a statement of who it affects and approximately how many people are affected and the location of the problem. If the location is not a specific one, a list of examples may be included. It also describes how pressing the situation is, how many people are affected and how the sender plans to solve this problem--with or without the help of the business--to emphasize that the petition has a real purpose.

Cover Letter for a Resume

A cover letter is a kind of business letter attached to a resume. This letter is useful because it lets businesses know the author can speak and write intelligently. It includes relevant education, work experience, and a relation of the author to the reader. This letter's purpose is to state that what the author is sending is a resume and whatever other job application material may be requested (e.g., a sample of writing or design).

Application Letter for a Job

Not the same as a cover letter, application letters are sent to potential employers to convince them to interview the applicant. Application letters contain the job and how it was heard about, the sender's qualifications and work experience that relate to the job, contact information, and anything which they would like to state that is not already in their resume. Application business letters are written to hook people into reading a resume in case there are a lot of applicants for a job.


  • Professor Terri Palmer; York University; Toronto, Canada


About the Author

Based near Toronto, Canada, Veronica Starovoit has been writing stories and articles for periodicals since 2004. She writes travel pieces for LIVESTRONG.COM and her work has been published on websites such as eHow, Answerbag and others. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from York University and is taking a postgraduate co-op program in technical writing.

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