Wondering how to write a professional email? Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. We’ve put together this guide to help you in writing a professional email.
There are many reasons why you would want to write a professional email. It could be a job application where you send a cover letter accompanied by your CV, a thank you letter or a resignation letter to your employer. Whatever the reason is for sending an email, you need to make sure to do it in an organized and a professional manner.
When it comes to writing a job-related email, you must be brief, well-mannered and straightforward. Similar to other means of communication, you have to start by greeting the person you are sending the email, pass your message concisely and then ask for replies from the recipient so that they can know what to do next.
Email is probably not the future of business communication, but it still rules today’s professional online interactions. So, being able to communicate effectively via email is still an important skill in today’s workplace.
Email is probably not the future of business communication, but it still rules today's professional online interactions.
So, how do you communicate effectively via email. How do you make sure your email is professional, that it conveys exact message you want it to? How do you ensure the email gets a positive reply? In other words…
How to write a professional email? Here’s our guide:
1. Think First
Before you start writing the email, give it some thought first. Note that the email you send might negatively or positively impact your personality. Understand the person you are writing to. Are you writing to a busy person? If you are writing to a busy person, keep your message short and straight to the point.
In this case, you need to know the type of email you are sending and what response you want to get from the recipient. Having a clear intention will give you focus while writing.
Furthermore, consider whether email is the best format for what you want to communicate. Sometimes, a call may be more appropriate, and sometimes you may want to switch to team chat.
Read more: Make E-Mail Great Again
2. What’s the Purpose of Your Email?
Who are you writing to? Have you written to them before? If not yet, then you will want to ensure you give them a more context. Now before you embark on writing the message, know why you are sending the email first. What is the purpose of your email?
If you are unable to figure out why you are writing an email, then there is no reason to send it. Note that sending an email without having a clear purpose could be a waste of time to you and the recipient. You will spend a lot of time trying to express yourself.
Therefore, ensure you have a clear understanding of why you are sending the email so that you can get to express yourself easily and in a concise manner.
3. Who is Your Audience?
The way you begin writing the message through to the sign-off need to be consistent with how you respect the person you are writing to. In this case, you need to write for the person you are sending the email to. If the recipient is formal write the email in a formal language. If they are informal, write it in their language.
4. Adhere to the “One Thing Rule”
Unlike business meetings, emails need to be brief and straightforward. The less the details you include, the better your email will be to understand. Before you start writing, you need to understand that people are busy.
If you will cause them to guess what you want, you are less likely to get the exact response you wanted. So, make sure the recipient is able to understand easily what you want so that they can respond in the best possible way. In this case, you should ensure every email you send comprises one thing only. You should not communicate too many subjects in one email message.
5. Use a Meaningful Subject Line
This is another part of a professional email where many people ignore. The subject line is the first thing the recipient will come into contact. Note that the person you are writing to could be receiving hundreds of emails a day and so it’s imperative to make your subject line clear and brief.
You need to grab your recipient’s attention and also make them understand the purpose of your email so that they can know what action to take thereafter.
Sending an email with a blank or vague subject line could easily get your email into the trash bin of the recipient. Many people go directly to the subject line of an email before they can decide whether to proceed reading the entire message or not, so ensure to write a concise subject line that conveys your purpose for the email.
Examples of subject lines to attract your recipient’s attention:
- Great to see you yesterday!
- We appreciate your support!
- Please share your experience with us
- Ways to Make Money Online
- Follow-up about_______
- Request for Recommendation
- Meeting Date Changed
Examples of subject lines to avoid:
- “Please reply immediately”
- “Read before you reply”
If you are not sure what subject line to use, think about the purpose of the email and then describe it in a few words and then proofread it before you proceed.
6. Start Your Email With Greetings
Whether it is a short or a long email, always begin with a greeting. It is a good email etiquette to greet the person you are writing to. Note that it will depend on how formal or informal the person you are writing to. So keep your greeting formal always when writing a professional email.
If you are writing to a person you know, you can start with “Dear Mr. Jerald”, “Dear Anthony” or “Hi, Sharon.”.
However, if you are writing to an organization, you will want to research about it so that you get to know the person handling the emails and avoid using the “Whom it may concern” statement.
Another way to greet the recipient is by using their title such as “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Do note that the punctuation for your greeting (as well as for the sign-off) may depend on the language you are writing in. For example, in English, the most formal way of ending a salutation is with a colon, as in “Dear Mr. Johnson:”.
In many cases utmost formality is not necessary, and the colon is not required. You can then either use a comma, as in “Hi Jeremy,” and also after your sign-off (“Thanks,), or you can leave both without any punctuation. Alternatively, you can turn it into a complete sentence by formatting your salutation as “Hi, Jeremy.”.
However, in some European languages (e.g. in Estonian), the appropriate punctuation is in fact an exclamation mark. Yes, an exclamation mark! So, be sure to check the grammar rules if you’re writing in any other language besides English.
7. Introduce Yourself
After greeting the recipient, you need to introduce yourself right away, especially if it’s your first time contacting them. You can introduce yourself briefly in one sentence or two. For instance, you could say “I am Boniface. I work as a freelance content writer and I have accomplished several projects on SEO and Product Reviews. Please find my portfolio at ____”
Introducing yourself and the work you do will help the recipient to know who the email is from and this is imperative when writing to a person you’ve never met. Many people think that including your name in the introduction is like repeating yourself since the name will appear on your email address, but making them know who you are is good.
If you’ve ever met, you can remind them at the introduction part also. However, if it’s someone you know and they know you too, you don’t have to introduce yourself.
8. State Your Purpose
There are two things you could want from the email you are writing and you need to make it clear to the recipient. First, you want to inquire about something and second, you want to make the recipient know what to do next. For instance, you may begin with “I am writing to inquire about the interview we had about your writing project” or “I am writing in response to an invitation……..”
In this case, you want to state the purpose of your email but also not look rude. You should make the purpose clear beforehand before you proceed into the main body of the message.
9. Never Lose the Meaning of Your Content on the Way
In this case, you need to keep your message clear and concise. After you’ve created a good subject line and introduced yourself, you should maintain the same flow throughout your email- avoid beating around the bush. You need to get straight to the point of your email.
Clearly, make known what you want and concentrate on that part only. If possible you can list the things you want them done or the point of writing the email in bullets to make your email more organized and readable.
10. Remember to Keep Your Message Short
People are busy and when you write a novel, no one will bother to read such an email. So, keep it as concise as possible by including only the essential information. Note that professional emails are short and meant to respect the recipient time.
If you make the recipient feel like your email is lengthy, they will likely ignore it. Aim at avoiding making the recipient dig through several paragraphs to find out what you want- be clear and to the point always.
11. Keep Your Email Clean
You are writing a professional email and so you need to look professional even in your way of writing. Figure out this- You receive a reply to an email you sent with excessive carets (>>>>>) how will you feel. Definitely, you will get annoyed. Same applies to your recipient. Ensure to avoid being messy when replying to a thread or when sending an email. In this case, you can clear the carets by pressing Ctrl+F to access the Find and Replace command or just do away with all the emails and send a new one.
12. Thank the Recipient
Your recipient has taken the time to read your email message and therefore, you need to appreciate them for that. Also, this is another way to state your aim of writing the email. “Thank you for taking your time to review my application and writing samples”, “ Thank you for taking your time to read my research proposal” or “Thank you for your patience and consideration”
13. The Closing Remarks
You should close your email with a statement that makes your message clear and informs the recipient what to do next. This is a good opportunity to nudge them to take action. “Please find attached the research proposal. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon” or “I look forward to meeting you in person so that we can discuss your project”
14. Use a Professional Sign-Off
There are numerous ways to end an email before you write your name. However, for the purpose of remaining professional, you should not be too creative in this part. So choose a sign-off that looks professional such as:
- Best regards,
- Yours truly,
- Kind regards,
You should use such closing statements when writing a professional email. In a more casual email you can use:
Again, note that whether the sign-off is followed by any punctuation, and what kind of punctuation, may depend on your language rules.
Additional Tips on How to Write a Professional Email
Now that you’ve written your email, ensure to follow these steps before you hit the “Send” button.
Professional Email Tip #1: Have Empathy
When writing a professional email, put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. This way, you will be able to know their feelings. Think about what you could do if you were the recipient of the email you are writing. So when writing, ask yourself:
- How would I understand this sentence, if I was the one reading it?
- How would I feel if I was to receive such an email?
Read more: Emotion in team communication
Professional Email Tip #2: Your email is a depiction of yourself
You are what you write: Every email you write can make or break your reputation. If you write a disorganized email full of mistakes, the recipient will see you as a careless person who doesn’t take the time to do things in the right way.
Professional Email Tip #3: Ensure Your Email is Complete
Have you included a brief subject line? Have you included a signature? If you need to have a copy of the email, have you included the Bcc?
Professional Email Tip #4: Take Time to Proofread Your Email Before You Send it
From the contact section to the subject line through to the closing line check the email thoroughly before you press the send button. Proofreading your email shouldn’t be a time-consuming task, but could prevent your email from getting into the recipient’s trash bin.
In this case, verify whether all the following information is right:
- A clear and concise subject line
- Professional greeting
- The introduction of yourself
- The purpose
- Check for grammar, punctuation and other formatting errors.
- Your closing remarks.
Verify that your purpose is clear and stated right away in the beginning of the email in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. Note that this is your last time to detect any errors and so you should be careful at this stage. Think about a situation where you write the word “Not” when you wanted to mean “Now”. This can be confusing and happens when a person fails to proofread their emails.
Professional Email Tip #5: Check for Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes
Sending an email doesn’t require you to be an expert in grammar and punctuations, but check for such mistakes is vital. Grammar mistakes may prevent you from landing your dream job.
In this case, ensure to use words that have clear meanings and exist in the dictionary. In fact, it is advisable to use simple and easy to understand English when writing a professional email.
Professional Email Tip #6: Keep Your Words, Sentences, and Paragraphs Short
Why use a long word when you can replace it with a short one? When writing a professional email, always keep everything short and to the point. A brief and concise email shows respect for your recipient. Short words make your message more scannable. For clarity purposes, ensure to shorten lengthy sentences and paragraphs as much as possible.
Professional Email Tip #7: Font Style
The font style you use when writing a love letter shouldn’t get its way to your professional email. Avoid font styles that will distract the recipient from your purpose of the message. Keep your use of italics and bold letters at a minimum. Avoid using capital letters throughout your email. Using capital letters looks like you are commanding the recipient.
Professional Email Tip #8: Send Your Email to the Right Recipient
Avoid filling people’s inboxes with unwanted emails especially when writing for business purposes. Note that business people are frustrated when you copy an email they have nothing to do with. So, ensure you are sending your email to the right people.
Professional Email Tip #9: Ensure to Include Your Contact Information When Ending Your Email
There are numerous ways you would want to get a reply of your email and the easiest way is to include your contact information such as your phone number and other contact details such as Skype and company website.
Professional Email Tip #10: If you’re writing sales emails, look into automation
It’s no secret that salespeople around the world have started making use of email automation. In fact, automation tools may be the modern salesperson’s best friends. There are many options out there, so do your research. Just as an example, Prospect.io can help you find the verified prospect’s name, email and contact number, as well as schedule emails for later. Most of such tools are not free, with prices ranging from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars. If nothing else, that’s an indication of how valuable such tools are to salespeople writing emails!
What to Avoid When Writing a Professional Email
There are things that we do when writing professional emails that seem minor but make a big difference. A poorly written email can portray you as being unprofessional. It can show exactly how you carry yourself since it represents you and if possible, your business. Though it is easy to send a quick reply using your phone, it is vital to verify every email you send.
Here are few things you should never include in your professional email.
Things to avoid #1: Making a Typo in Your Recipient’s Name
This is the first mistake that you should never make when writing a professional email. However, you will be shocked that a good number of people still overlook it. Note that committing such a mistake will make the recipient never get back to you completely.
If you can’t spend the time to get the right name of the recipient or the company even on other social networks like LinkedIn then it means you will never have time to double check your work.
Things to avoid #2: Including Too Many Personal Details
People are busy and no one wants to read your entire life background. People want to read what they want to so write concise and brief emails by doing away with unwanted details such as personal details.
Things to avoid #3: Using the “To Whom it May Concern” Statement
This is a killer mistake that you must ensure to avoid it like death. Nowadays, companies have placed their information on the internet. You can get to know who the head of every department is, who is the human resource and many other titles just by researching the company.
Using “To Whom it may concern” shows that you haven’t bothered yourself to research before writing the email. If you can’t find a name to address to, you better address the person by his/her title such as “Dear hiring manager” or “To the Head of the Finance Department”
Things to avoid #4: Too Casual Tone
A professional email should be written in a formal manner. You should keep away from those lower case letters or text languages such as Lol, thx and many others. Spell every word in full and avoid using abbreviations.
Things to avoid #5: Sending email lacking a subject line
You are likely to make this mistake especially if you are writing in a hurry. At that time, you just rush to write the message and after hitting the send button is when you will realize that you haven’t included it.
Your recipient might fail to read your email because that shows you don’t have time to write something worth reading.
Things to avoid #6: Failing to Attach the File as Mentioned In The Body of Your Email
You’ve indicated in the message that there is an attachment but you end up sending the email without the attachment because you are in a hurry. This might portray you as being careless. That is why it is recommended for people to go through their emails several times to ensure all the information stated is intact.
Things to avoid #7: Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes
These are the worst mistakes you will need to prevent them from appearing in your professional emails. A wrongly spelled word can give a different meaning. This will show how unprofessional you are even if you act professionally. This is why you should proofread your emails from the subject line to the end and run spell check to detect such mistakes before you hit the send button.
Things to avoid #8: Attaching Huge Files
Most often people attach a file and send it to later find that it is a huge file that requires more time to download. People are busy and only a few will be patient enough to wait until a huge file is downloaded so that they can read what is inside. Many will just ignore it once they find that it requires time and bundles to download the file. So ensure to check the size of the file you want to attach and if it’s a large file, you might as well compress it.
Things to avoid #9: Using too Many Fonts
Using crazy and bad fonts in your emails can create a bad impression. So always try to use regular or common font style and size when formulating an email to make it professional.
There you have it: a full guide to help you write a professional email. Now you can write a good written professional email with high chances of getting a good response. Make sure to bookmark this guide for future use or share on social media to help out others as well!
How to Write a Professional Email: The Ultimate Guide