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Business usually is done by business letters. In business, a commonly-used form of communication is face-to-face. Effective business communication is clear, correct and courteous.

The style of business letters is formal. There are certain differences in business letters between different countries. When running international business, make sure what kind of business letters are used in that particular country. Remember that the British language usage in letters is far more polite than the Finnish!

In the following there is a brief explanation of a particular letter. 


A buyer writes an inquiry when he wants to ask for more information concerning a product or service that interests him. We are interested in purchasing a product, but would like to receive more information before making a decision. An inquiry does not bind the sender. Requests are usually just a few lines. State briefly and clearly what you are interested in.

Request for quotation 

A buyer asks for a request for quotation of a particular product or service. Usually a request of quotation is sent to several sellers. A request for quotation does not bind the sender to buy. If you are requesting a quotation, be precise with products, quality, quantity and time of delivery. You must state the validity of your request clearly.


A quotation is a promise to supply goods under the terms stated. A quotation is a legally binding document. Therefore, it must be very specific and complete. Brochures, pictures and samples can be joint a quotation. Quantity, quality, packing and prices must appear on the quotation. The seller must state clearly taxes are included in the price. A quotation must include terms and time of delivery, terms of payment and validity of the quotation.


An order is a legally binding document. An order is based on a quotation and and repeats the facts such as prices, terms of delivery and payment.

Confirmation of an order

Confirmation of an order is used particularly if the order is done on the phone. The content and the structure is similar to the written order.


The invoice informs the buyer of the amount to be due. Details of products, taxes, prices, discounts and calculations must appear clearly on the quotation. Cash discount is not mentioned on the invoice. Do not forget bank details. Usually the invoice is not signed.