Learning how to write an email professionally is the first step to adopting proper English business etiquette. Congratulations for making it this far!
But now it’s time to work on assignments from your boss, and I imagine you may have to write a few work-related emails. Fear not. With these five tips, you’ll know how to write a professional email that effectively communicates your needs with coworkers and clients.
1. Know The Purpose of the Email
Every time you sit down to write a business email, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this email?” If you’re not clear about your purpose, then your client or co-worker won’t be clear either. This is the most important aspect of how to write a professional email!
Many companies (especially American) operate on the belief that time equals money, so it’s important to not force others to use valuable time to read text that has no purpose.
When composing a professional email, know what you want to write, and be sure that every sentence supports that purpose.
For example, suppose you’re writing an email to your boss, asking him or her to review a document you intend to send to a client. In that situation, be sure the email contains:
- Some details explaining what is in the document
- Why you need the document reviewed
- Describe the type of feedback you would like from your boss
- When you need a response
Staying within the purpose of your email helps a reader clearly understand what you’re saying. Also, clarity is always appreciated in a professional setting.
Here is an example of an internal email from a real estate agency:
I have attached the final draft of the contract for the sale of the apartment on 123 Main Street.
Would you please review the section regarding the closing agreements? I need to know if the language matches the requests of the seller.
We’re meeting with the buyers on Tuesday morning, so if you would let me know by Monday afternoon, that would be appreciated.
2. Be Mindful of the Recipient
Another question to ask yourself before composing a work-related email is, “Who is the recipient of the email?” Every email you write will have words and phrases that should be appropriate for the person receiving the email.
If you’re writing an email to a new client who you’ve never done business with or even met, then it wouldn’t be appropriate to include jokes and informal language in the email. However, if you’re writing an email to a coworker whom you have developed a friendship, you may use language that is informal and a much friendlier tone.
When responding to a professional email you’ve received, the question of the tone of the email becomes much easier to answer. Simply match the tone of the email that you received. This is a great rule to follow in a professional setting.
Here is an example of a professional email and a follow-up email that matches the tone of the previous email:
Subject: Catalog Review Next Week
Thank you for leaving your card at the workshop last weekend. Do you have any time on your calendar next week to meet for coffee to discuss your catalog?
Let me know when you have a moment.
Re:Catalog Review Next Week
Thank you for contacting me. I have time to sit down for 30 minutes on Thursday. Can you meet me at the Starbucks on Main and 5th?
I look forward to reviewing our catalog and pricing with you, and thank you for considering doing business with our company.
Notice how Kristen uses the same tone (courteous and sincere) as Harry. The message is concise and only related to the topic discussed. Kristen knows how to write a professional email response in terms of tone, and so can you! If you have questions on matching tone, you can refer to our previous blog post on how to write a professional email. That article discusses the topic in detail.
3. How to Write a Professional Email That’s Short and Concise!
As we discussed earlier, time equals money for many Americans, so it’s important to make sure that your email is concise (giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words) and fulfills the purpose of your email. This is where knowing your purpose becomes very important. When you have a clear understanding of your purpose, you won’t be tempted to go off subject while writing an email.
Talking about many different subjects in one email can confuse a reader, and it can cause you to make more mistakes with grammar and structure.
Be sure to leave out information that isn’t important or isn’t related to the purpose of your email and try not to use too many filler words (Here is a great infographic that gives a list of common English filler words). This will make your email shorter and pleasant for your reader.
Note: If the purpose of your email is regarding a subject that requires a longer discussion, it may be best to communicate what you have to say differently. Sometimes, it’s better to switch to a professional email that requests a meeting rather than sending a long email.
This past weekend, one of our employees was involved in an altercation with a customer, and I would like to sit down and discuss what happened when you have time this week.
Please let me know when you have a moment.
Now you’re learning the way to write a work-related email in a nice, straightforward style. But we’re not done yet! Read on for two more great tips!
4. Use a Closing Line
At the end of every professional email, it’s important to set up whatever action you want to happen next and conclude the email with a clear ending sentence.
It’s a great way to let the reader know that the email is finished, and it’s an opportunity to reinforce information that you wanted to give the reader. You can also use the sentence as an opportunity to generate a positive working relationship.
For example: I look forward to our meeting next week, and have a good weekend.
This is a sentence that clearly closes an email, confirms a meeting that will happen next week, and sends well wishes for a good weekend.
Another example: Please review the document and let me know what you think.
This closing line summarizes the content of the email, which was a request to review a document and requires action from the recipient.
Last example: Thank you for your consideration. I hope we may do business at a future date.
Sometimes potential clients aren’t ready to conduct business with you at the moment. This closing is a good way to thank someone for their time, and leave the door open for a future correspondence.
5. Proofread the Email
Anytime you intend to send an email, be sure to proofread it. Check for errors in spelling and grammar. Also take a moment to be sure you’ve included all the necessary information needed to fulfill the purpose of the email.
Fortunately, we live in the computer age where there are many tools out there that can help you correct common errors and mistakes (see below), but don’t rely only on computer programs to correct all of your errors. These programs can sometimes make you sound like a robot and less personable. (If you are personable, you have a pleasant appearance and manner.)
If the email is very important, it may be good to ask a coworker you trust to read over the email before you send it, just to be sure that everything is correct. You hopefully won’t have to re-read over things too much, as your email should be concise, short, and to the point. But it’s always good to take a little time to make sure everything is correct before sending.
Lastly, be sure you’ve attached the appropriate files or images to the email, and always confirm that any requests you made in the email are clear and easy to understand.
Web tools for correcting grammar and typos:
Final Thoughts on How to Write a Professional Email
You know who else struggles with how to write a professional email? Many of your co-workers, and possibly your boss! This is a common problem faced by many workers, but it is a challenge that can be overcome. Learn these skills, and you will really shine among your peers!