With the rapid adoption of email, many people think letter writing is a dead art. But, letter writing is surging back as a sign of exclusivity. Anyone can send a mass email. But it takes time and effort to write a letter. So they are considered more important and respectful.
In this article, we will try to explain the different types of letters and how to choose the right format for the occasion.
Letter writing can be broadly classified into two main categories: Informal and Formal.
Informal letters are typically written to friends and relatives. It could be in the form of an invitation, a social letter or a thank you note. The main aspect of such a letter is that it is personal in nature.
Informal letters like a social letter or a thank you note do not have a structure. But, invitations have varying formats based on the occasion.
Formal letters have a lot of different categories. They are typically used as a means of communication and documentation. The most common types include business letters and official letters.
Business letters are typically sent by organisations to their clients and customers. They follow a specific format and are typically non-personal in nature. They may use them for trade enquires between businesses, response to a complaint, an offer of service or product, a collection request and so on.
Official letters could be used within a business or even in the government and the judiciary. They stick to the conservative format and typically have a call to action. They could be an information only letter or something that needs action. Termination letters, a change of rules, promotion order are just some examples of an official letter. Based on the organisation, the sender of the letter may write it on personalised stationary or a regular paper. For example, the President of the United States always writes letters on his official letterhead.
It is customary for the letter writer to sign his name and affix his seal to verify the authenticity of an official letter.
Apart from business and official letters, there are a few other forms of formal letters.
Notice Letter: As the name says, the purpose of the letter is to give the receiver a notice on a specific topic. Examples include resignation letters, notice of eviction, etc.
Circular letter: The main purpose of a circular letter is to disseminate the same information to a large group of people. They typically use circulars in schools, government organisations and even in businesses. Announcements of a holiday, a change of address, a new product are examples of when a circular letter could be used.
Complaint Letter: Customers typically raise complaints and claims via a letter. These also fall into the category of formal letters since a written complaint is a formal request from one person or an organisation to another.
Apart from the above, there could be a few dozen other types of letters. But these are the most common type of letters used in today’s world.