E Mail Writing in English: Email is the most common form of business communication; so it’s important to get it right. Although emails usually aren’t as formal as letters, they still need to be professional to present a good image of you and your company.
How to write a formal emailFollow these five simple steps to make sure your English emails are perfectly professional.
- Begin with a greeting
- Thank the recipient
- State your purpose
- Add your closing remarks
- End with a closing
Begin with a greetingAlways open your email with a greeting, such as “Dear Lillian”. If your relationship with the reader is formal, use their family name (eg. “Dear Mrs. Price”). If the relationship is more casual, you can simply say, “Hi Kelly”. If you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to, use: “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. Subject Line
- Always have a subject line that summarises briefly and clearly the contents of the message (example: Re: Summary of Our Meeting with ABC Suppliers). There are many variations of greetings that you can start your email with, but the most standard ones are: Dear Firstname Lastname Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname Dear Mr./Ms. Firstname Lastname Dear Dr. Lastname To whom it may concern
Think of who your reader is going to beIs it a colleague, a client or your boss? Should the email be informal or formal? Most business emails these days have a neutral tone. Note the difference between Informal and Formal: Informal – Thanks for emailing me on 15th February Formal – Thank you for your email dated 15th February Informal – Sorry, I can’t make it. Formal – I am afraid I will not be able to attend Informal – Can you…? Formal – I was wondering if you could….?
- Some emails to colleagues can be informal if you have a long working relationship and know them well. This is the style that is closest to speech, so there are often everyday words and conversational expressions that can be used. For instance, ‘Don’t forget’, ‘Catch you later’, ‘Cheers’. The reader may also accept or overlook minor grammatical errors in informal emails. However, if the email is going to a client or senior colleague, bad grammar and an over-friendly writing style will most probably not be acceptable. If you are replying to a client’s inquiry, you should begin with a line of thanks. For example, if someone has a question about your company, you can say, “Thank you for contacting ABC Company”. If someone has replied to one of your emails, be sure to say, “Thank you for your prompt reply” or “Thanks for getting back to me”. Thanking the reader puts him or her at ease, and it will make you appear more polite.
Think about how direct or indirect you want to beIn some cultures, it is common practice to be very direct in email correspondence. However, this can cause a problem if you’re writing to someone in another country and in a language that is not your mother tongue. They might find your directness rude and possibly offensive. Consider these: Direct – I need this in half an hour. Indirect and polite – Would it be possible to have this in half an hour? Direct – There will be a delay Indirect – I’m afraid there may be a slight delay. Direct – It’s a bad idea Indirect – To be honest, I’m not sure if that would be a good idea. By adjusting your tone, you are more likely to get a positive response from your reader.
State your purposeIf you are starting the email communication, it may be impossible to include a line of thanks. Instead, begin by stating your purpose. For example, “I am writing to enquire about …” or “I am writing in reference to …”. Make your purpose clear early on in the email, and then move into the main text of your email. Remember, people want to read emails quickly, so keep your sentences short and clear. You’ll also need to pay careful attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation so that you present a professional image of yourself and your company.
Add your closing remarksBefore you end your email, it’s polite to thank your reader one more time and add some polite closing remarks. You might start with “Thank you for your patience and cooperation” or “Thank you for your consideration” and then follow up with, “If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to let me know” and “I look forward to hearing from you”.
End with a closing
The last step is to include an appropriate closing with your name. “Best regards”, “Sincerely”, and “Thank you” are all professional. Avoid closings such as “Best wishes” or “Cheers” unless you are good friends with the reader. Finally, before you hit the send button, review and spell check your email one more time to make sure it’s truly perfect!