Learning to write a formal email can feel a little daunting. Whether you’re writing an email to a potential employer, colleagues, or someone within your professional network, you want to make sure you’re crafting an email that is appropriate and hits the mark.
With these easy steps you’ll be a pro at writing a professional email in no time at all.
1. Make your subject line simple
Every professionally written email should have a subject line. In most cases, you’re not writing an email to make a professional sales pitch (unless you’re working in sales!), so there’s no need for a flashy or attention-grabbing subject line.
Your subject line should clearly state the purpose of your email so the recipient has a clear and immediate understanding of what you’re writing with regards to.
Subject lines can be especially helpful if the recipient is someone who gets a lot of emails every day. If the email pertains to an urgent matter or has a specific deadline, this should be reflected in the subject line.
For instance, if you’re sending an email to express gratitude after an interview, a simple “Thank You” in the subject line is appropriate. Similarly, when reaching out to a potential employer about a job listing you’ve seen, a subject line like “Recent Job Posting: Account Representative Position” is clear, simple, and effective.
In essence, when you write a professional email, the subject line serves as a concise way to communicate its purpose.
2. Start by greeting the recipient
Professional emails open with a simple greeting that acknowledges and addresses the recipient(s).
An email greeting should be simple and straightforward — there’s no need to overthink it. A few examples are:
- Hi [First name],
- Hello [Name],
- Dear [Name],
- Hello Everyone,
- Hi Everyone,
- Hi All,
In comparison, there are a handful of common greetings that you’ll want to avoid when writing a professional email.
Try not to use slang, be too casual, or come across too stiff. A few examples of what not to do are:
- [Misspelled Name],
- What’s Up, [Name]?
- To Whom it May Concern,
- Dear Sir or Madam,
Ultimately, the greeting you choose to open your professional email with should reflect the relationship you have with the recipient of that email.
This relationship will also impact the first line of your email after your initial greeting. A few options might be:
- I hope all is well.
- I hope your week is going well so far.
- It’s great to connect.
3. Clearly state the reason you’re emailing
After you’ve opened your email with a greeting, your next step is to summarize why you’re writing the recipient. People get so many emails every day — they don’t want to read a long explanation at the beginning or sort through a lot of text to get a better idea of why you’re reaching out. Clearly state the intention of your email at the start.
Use this as an opportunity to expand on your subject line. A few ways to lead into this might be:
- I am writing in reference to [subject].
- I am writing to inquire about [subject].
- I am writing to request that [subject].
- I am writing to inform you that [subject].
You want to ensure you’re stating the purpose of your email clearly, but not come across as abrupt or terse. Defining the purpose of your professional email is the first step to opening a productive and meaningful dialogue or conversation with the recipient(s).
4. Keep the body text clear and concise
After you’ve greeted the recipient and stated the reason why you’re emailing, you’ll want to expand even further in the body of your email with additional relevant details. The key here is not to overwhelm your reader with too much text. Remember, the person you’re writing likely receives a ton of professional emails a day — respect their time as you write. If the body of your email is too long, they may not read it thoroughly.
The body of your email should be to-the-point and without slang. It’s helpful to break the text up into multiple paragraphs that are just a few sentences long so that they’re simple to read. Bullet points are another great tool for ensuring the content of your email is easily legible.
If the topic you’re writing about requires a longer email, consider forgoing the email altogether and opting for a meeting instead. Shift the purpose of your email to setting up a time to chat rather than attempting to explain everything in writing.
5. Come to a conclusion
You’re almost done! Once you’ve greeted the recipient, stated why you’re reaching out, and written the body of your professional email, you’ll want to start wrapping things up. The end of your email shouldn’t just be an average sentence — you’ll want to give the recipient a call-to-action or set up what you’d like to see happen next.
This is the time to point your recipient in a particular direction or bring the conversation to a natural end. Here are some examples of how to do this effectively:
- I look forward to hearing from you.
- I look forward to speaking with you more.
- Please see the attached documents and reply with your thoughts when you have a chance.
- Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback.
- I appreciate your assistance with this matter.
This will guide the next phase of the conversation. Odds are that your email won’t be the end of your dialogue, but the beginning.
6. Wrap Up and Signature
Now that 99% of your email has been written, it’s time to sign off. Like other parts of your email, you’ll want to be brief and straight forward.
Here are some of the best ways to sign off when you write a professional email:
- All the best,
- Best Wishes,
- With Regards,
- Thank you,
- Thanks again,
Of note: Professionals sign off in their emails differently depending on their country of origin or culture. If you’re emailing internationally, consider replicating what the recipient might use.
7. Double-check everything
One final and crucial step — review your email thoroughly! Grammar and spelling mistakes in an email scream unprofessionalism, so be sure to proof-read carefully before hitting send.
It’s helpful to read it thoroughly a few times — and even out loud to yourself — to make sure everything is spelled correctly, flows, and is professional. You can also utilize free writing tools like Grammarly to catch any minor misspellings or typos that you could potentially overlook.
Equally as important is how your email looks. Ask yourself:
- “Is the font I’m using traditional and legible?” — When in doubt, Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri are great fonts to use.
- “Is the color of the text in my email all the same?” — Don’t change the color of your text. It can look unprofessional.
- “Am I using the correct punctuation?” — Certain punctuation can impact the tone of your email. For example, using exclamation points at the end of every sentence can make you come across as immature or overly excited. Resist the urge!
After you’ve reviewed your email a few times and are confident it’s good to go, it’s time to hit send.
By using these 7 easy steps, you’ll become the go-to amongst your peers for writing professional emails.
Whether you’re in the process of looking for a new role or are trying to level up your game in your current one, knowing how to write a professional email is so, so important!