How to Write an Email: Your Complete Guide
Email is one of the most widely used correspondence tools. It's a fast and effective form of communication used in almost all workplaces. Professional emails are used for a variety of purposes such as exchanging information or organising a meeting. Understanding the best strategies for writing an email can help you communicate effectively at work. In this article, we provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write an email, we also look at format, structure and email etiquette.
How to write an email
If you're not sure where to begin when it comes to writing an email, we've put together a guide to help you. Follow the steps below on how to write an email:
1. Identify your goal
Before you begin writing, consider the goal of your email. What do you hope to achieve by writing this email? Once you have a clear idea, you can begin writing and highlighting any actions you want the recipient to take. For example, if you want to set up a meeting with your manager it's important to state the purpose of the meeting and provide some suggested times or a calendar invite.
2. Consider your tone
It's important to write for your audience. This means adjusting your writing style to suit different recipients. For example, you would use a different tone when writing to the company director than you would writing an email to a work friend. For the company director, it's best to keep the email professional, polished and free of any informalities. Emailing your work friend can be more casual.
3. Be concise
People are busy, especially in the workplace and they may not have time to read long-winded emails. So, keep it concise. Take out irrelevant information and shorten long sentences. Be as clear as possible by using simple sentences and straightforward words. If the email requires a call to action, state it clearly in the subject line and text body.
4. Proofread before pressing send
A grammatically correct email demonstrates professionalism. You can always proofread and edit your email before sending it. Check your spelling, grammar and syntax. Make sure you spell the recipient's name correctly and attach any relevant documents. If it's an important email, you may want a colleague to look it over before you click send.
5. Use appropriate etiquette
Remember to remain courteous when crafting your email. You can always use appropriate email etiquette. This means a friendly salutation and proper signing off. Be aware of the recipient's time. Unless the matter is urgent, you can send the email during working hours.
6. Follow up
Sometimes we forget to respond to emails, so it's okay to follow up. Give the recipient at least two business days to get back to you, then send a friendly follow up email. Remain polite and concise when sending follow-up emails.
Email format and structure
When writing a formal email, there are certain guidelines to follow. Consider this format and structure guide below:
1. Subject line
A simple yet informative subject line is key. It tells the reader the context of the email. Having a clear subject line also makes it easier to locate the email at a later date.
For example: Follow up: Marketing meeting
This is the first line of your email and acts as a greeting. There are many types of salutations, some less formal than others. You can choose an appropriate salutation for your audience.
For example: 'Dear Mrs Smith' or 'Hi John'
The crux of your email lies in the body. This is where you write your full message. You can ensure the body of the email is concise with appropriate spacing to make it flow.
For example: 'Thank you for your supportive words at the marketing meeting this morning. I'd like to clarify one point: will this week's social schedule be entirely organic?'
This is the last line of your email before you sign off. You can use it to thank the recipient, reiterate your message or confirm details. Always use a closing sentence because it's polite and wraps up any message nicely.
For example: 'Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks again!'
The signature is where you sign off to end the email. Use a polite salutation, with your full name and job title. Most email programs allow you to set a fixed signature, so you don't have to write it out every time.
We've come up with some helpful hints to assist you when writing an email. Follow these five simple instructions to quickly improve your email writing:
Simple is better: keep it straightforward and to the point.
Less is more: avoid any irrelevant information or lengthy sentences.
Match their tone: when replying to an email match the tone of the writer.
Be decisive: to avoid a lot of back and forth, be considered and thoughtful when you write your email.
Double-check: read over your email before sending it to check that all the details are correct.
Email etiquette tips
Emails can be formal or informal, but you can ensure your emails use proper etiquette:
Professional email address: make an email with your name and/or company name.
Be cautious with 'reply all': use this function sparingly and only when necessary.
Use appropriate salutations: match your salutation to the intended tone of the email.
Use exclamation marks sparingly: if you are writing a formal email try to avoid exclamation marks or limit yourself to one.
Use classic fonts: use traditional fonts that are easy to read in either size 11 or 12.
Keep your tone positive: even when being assertive you can aim to remain positive.
Spell names correctly: always double-check the spelling of the recipients' names.
Reply promptly: you can aim to reply to emails in one to two business days.
Examples of professional emails
Here are three examples of professional workplace emails to give you some inspiration:
Example 1: Reaching out to a contact
Subject line: FreshLilac writing opportunity
I hope this email finds you well. I'm reaching out because we have some contract writing work here at FreshLilac and require a skilled freelancer. You come highly recommended by Sharon Brown.
The work will focus on weekly articles that we can share on our social channels. You would be provided with weekly topics and have a lot of creative freedom. Let me know if this sounds like something you'd be interested in, and we can discuss the finer details.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Example 2: Emailing a group
Subject line: Monday meeting cancelled
I've had to cancel this week's strategy meeting. Sorry about the inconvenience, I'll get back to you with a new time later this week.
Have a good one!
Head of Finance
Example 3: Follow up email
Subject line: RE: FreshLilac opportunity
I just wanted to check back in and see if you've had time to consider my proposal. If you require any further details, please don't hesitate to ask.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Frequently asked questions
We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions about how to write an email, which you can find below:
What is a formal email?
A formal email is a well-composed message with proper etiquette and structure. Formal emails are used in almost all industries and for a range of purposes. You can ensure your email contains a proper salutation with a well-structured body and a polite signature. You may need to send a formal email to your boss or potential employer. Being able to write a formal email is a great skill to have.
How do you start an email?
This depends on who you're sending it to. Emailing a fellow work colleague, who you have a friendly relationship with, can be casual. A simple 'Hey Jane' or 'Happy Friday Jane' is ok. When emailing someone in a formal setting you can use a proper salutation like 'Dear' or 'Good Morning'. When writing to a group of people you can start with 'Hi Team' or 'Morning Everyone'. If you are replying to an email, then simply match what the author did.
How do you write a professional email?
A professional email demonstrates your ability and competence. You can use professional emails in the workplace or when emailing clients. It is important to be assertive, polite and informative. Make sure you haven't made any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Use proper salutations and provide all the relevant attachments.
How do you format an email?
Just like a letter, an email has a start, middle and end. Include information in the subject line alluding to the context of the email. Begin with an appropriate greeting, an introduction (if needed) and a reason for the email. End with a call to action, when applicable, and a closing sentence. Sign off politely with your full name, job title and company name.
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