Email has become one of the most widely used forms of communication both in and out of the workplace. Because of its speed and efficiency, it is more than likely your company relies on this form of communication in some capacity, no matter your role or industry. Learning how to write an email that meets all of these criteria can take practice. In this article, we provide tips and best practices to help you write effective and professional emails.
What is a professional email?
A well-composed professional email provides the recipient with a friendly, clear, concise and actionable message. It can also be a great way to document important information that you can refer back to at a later date. You may need to send a professional email for a variety of reasons. For example, you might need to recap an important meeting, exchange information, relay an important update or send a letter of introduction.
6 steps for writing professional emails
Before writing your professional email, you need to consider a few factors. Read these six steps before you get started on your professional emails:
- Identify your goal.
- Consider your audience.
- Keep it concise.
- Proofread your email.
- Use proper etiquette.
- Remember to follow up.
1. Identify your goal
Before you write an email, ask yourself what you want the recipient to do after they've read it. Identifying a goal or call to action allows you to write a straightforward email that's easy for the recipient to understand. For example, if you want the recipient to create a report based on a previous meeting, then let them know what information you need in the report, why you need it and when you need it.
2. Consider your audience
When you compose an email, make sure your tone matches your audience. There are times when you should be formal and other occasions when you can be slightly less formal. For example, if you're emailing a business executive you've never met, keep the email formal and professional. If you're emailing a colleague with whom you have a good relationship, you might use a less formal, more friendly approach.
3. Keep it concise
As with many business communications, you should make sure that you convey your message in a clear and succinct manner. Make it as brief as possible without leaving out key information so the recipient can read it quickly. When editing your email, take out any information that's irrelevant to the topic you're addressing. Make sure to also use short, simple sentences by removing filler words and extraneous information.
4. Proofread your email
Editing and reviewing your email before sending it ensures it's professional as possible. Before you send an email, take a moment to check for any spelling, grammar or syntax errors. Don't forget to check that you have included any attachments you may have referenced in your message. If you're sending an important message, such as a response to an interview request, it can be helpful to have a trusted friend or family member read it. They can make sure your email flows well and is easy to read.
5. Use proper etiquette
Proper etiquette in an email generally means using a friendly tone, being polite and including a greeting and signature at the end. When sending an email, pay attention to the time you send it. If the person lives in a different time zone, make sure you aren't asking them to action something after hours. It is proper etiquette not to email colleagues or coworkers asking them to do something after hours unless it is an emergency.
6, Remember to follow up
Many professionals receive dozens of emails per day. When you send an email, use a short subject line that clearly describes the purpose of your message. Sometimes, the recipient still may not notice your message in their inbox. If you haven't received a response after a day or two, you can send a follow-up email.
Reply to the email you already sent to put it toward the top of the recipient's inbox. You can also send an email in a new thread, but you need to add the information from your original message.
Proper format for an email
To write a professional email, you should follow the right format. Here are five items you should include when formatting an email:
- Subject line
This is a short phrase that summarizes the reason for your message or the goal of your communication. It is important to include a subject line when sending a professional email so your audience knows exactly what to expect and can locate the message easily if needed. For example:
"Notes from marketing strategy meeting"
"Follow up: performance review"
The salutation is the greeting at the beginning of your email. A salutation is important because it personalizes the email. For example:
"Good morning, Mr. Smith,"
Use the recipient's title for professional emails, and for casual business emails, you can use just their first name.
The body of the email should include your full message. The body can several paragraphs or a couple of lines depending on your message and request. Keep in mind that shorter emails are typically better in a busy workplace. Make your message clear, to the point and easy to read. For example:
"Thank you again for the meeting on Monday. I have attached the notes from our marketing strategy meeting for you to review at your leisure. Please note, there are action items listed on the document."
"I'm reaching out to follow up with you about your performance review. If you log in to the system, you will be able to see the updated document. If you have any questions or concerns, please be sure to send them by end of day on Friday."
This is the last line of your email before your signature that should summarize the message. Reiterate any requests you've made in the body of your message. For example:
"I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you!"
"Thank you again for your time."
The signature is where you identify yourself by name, title and any other information relevant to your communications. Most email programs allow you to set a fixed signature that's automatically added to the end of every email you send. For example:
Director of Finance, Dwight Inc.
Examples of professional emails
Below are some examples of professional emails to help you get a better idea of how to draft your own:
Email to a new contact
Subject line: Paper supply needs
Good evening Ruth,
I'm reaching out to you regarding the paper supply needs your company may have. I work at Darwin Paper Suppliers and wanted to set up a meeting with you to discuss the products and services we offer. We currently have some fantastic offers for local small businesses that I think you might be interested in.
Could you let me know a date and time that works for you?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Darwin Paper Suppliers
Subject line: Marketing strategy meeting follow-up
I wanted to follow up with you regarding the marketing strategy meeting we had on Monday. Several action items came out of that meeting, and I was hoping to get some insight on when we can expect you to complete your items. We intend to implement the strategy by the end of this quarter, so I want to create a detailed schedule."
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Email to a group
Subject line: Year-end review
As you may know, this coming Monday we will be conducting year-end reviews. Please make sure to complete your section of the year-end review on our internal system by end of day Friday. You will be getting calendar invites to read your individual reviews. Should there be questions beforehand, please let your direct manager know.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation in getting this done in a timely manner.
Chief Marketing Officer
Full Marketing Inc.