Writing Business or Formal E-Mails

E-mails may be a vital part of your work day or business, and you may feel a little nervous about sending one out in English. Here are a few tips to remember when you’re writing a formal/business e-mail.

Programmer_writing_code_with_Unit_Tests1. Subject Line

Use the subject line as an introduction to your e-mail. It should be informative, but also concise and to the point. If you leave your subject line blank, your e-mail could be missed and not read.

ExampleBusiness Meeting Friday Morning

2. Salutations (Greetings)

A business e-mail is slightly less formal than a business letter, so you can use a simple greeting. However, the standard way to open a business e-mail is: (Dear person’s name,)If don’t know the recipient well, it’s best to use their last name. If you know the recipient well, or the person is your colleague, feel free to use their first name with a more informal greeting. Unless you know for sure whether the woman prefers Miss. or Mrs. it’s best to use Ms. 

Examples:

  • Hello,
  • Dear Sally,
  • Dear Ms. Smith,
  • Hello Sally,
  • Sally,

3. Keep it Brief

In the business world, everything is fast paced, so it’s important to keep your e-mails brief and to the point. Remember to keep your e-mails short – only write what’s absolutely essential. The body of your e-mail should be no more than two paragraphs long, if you write any more than that, the person receiving the e-mail is likely to skim through and not read all the important details. It’s important to state the purpose of your e-mail, typically in your first paragraph. Before you send an e-mail, proofread your work, and ask yourself, “Is this a necessary piece of information to include?”  If it’s not that important, get rid of that sentence or idea.

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Examples:

  • I’m writing to notify you about the upcoming meeting…
  • I was just  wondering if you’ve finished the business reports yet.
  • I was just confirming that you’ll still be coming into work tomorrow at 12:30pm.

4. Closing 

Before you end your e-mail, it’s polite to thank the recipient for taking the time to read or respond to your e-mail. It’s also a good idea to add a brief comment about how or when they can contact youThe last step of your e-mail is your final closing. The more professional closings are “Best Regards, Sincerely or Thank you”, and then sign your full name. Avoid using informal closings like “Cheers” or “Love”.

Examples: 

  • Thank you for your consideration.
  • Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to get back to me.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.
  • I look forward to hearing from you.

Remember:

  • Don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS, this signifies that you are yelling
  • Don’t use emoticons :), this is considered unprofessional. These are best left for informal/personal e-mails
  • Avoid using slang
  • Proofread your work! It looks unprofessional if you have lots of grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Use respectful language

 

Don’t forget to check out my website English Expressions, and follow me on Twitter!

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