Difference Between Business Letters & Reports

by Christine Switzer; Updated September 26, 2017
Types of business reports include lab and investigative reports, which often detail scientific experiments.

Both business letters and reports have vital but distinctive roles within corporate communication. Business letters, for example, may confirm an agreement or reject a request, while a business report may record everything from a business trip to a company meeting.

Function

Business letters often communicate positive or negative news and other business matters to an audience external to a company or organization, whereas business reports usually provide detailed factual information to a variety of audiences.

Types

Primary types of business letters include acknowledgment, adjustment, collection, complaint, inquiry, rejection and sales letters. Principal business reports are progress and activity reports, feasibility reports, investigative reports and incident reports.

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Elements

Business letters have seven primary elements, such as the salutation and the closing, plus many additional features. Common elements for business reports include the title page, table of contents, abstract, appendixes and bibliography.

Formats

Both business letters and reports usually follow highly structured formats. Business letters are rarely more than one or two pages in length, while business reports may stretch from a few pages to a few hundred.

Considerations

Effective business letters and business reports are those that clearly and persuasively communicate the purpose of the writer, as well as adhere to the accepted standards for that medium of business communication.

References

  • “Communicating at Work,” Ronald B. Adler, Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst, 2005.
  • “The Business Writer’s Companion,” Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu, 2005.

About the Author

Christine Switzer has been a freelance writer since 2007. She contributes to travel and regional periodicals such as "Georgetown View" and "Burlington the Beautiful" and she enjoys writing on travel, lifestyle and the workplace. Switzer holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in English and has taught university courses in communication, public speaking and journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
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