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Letters & Emails
How to Write and Send Professional Email Messages
Whenever you send professional email messages, it’s really important to make sure the message is perfect. You don’t want to blow an opportunity by making any mistakes – either in how you send emails or how you keep track of them. Read on to learn how to write and send top-notch professional email messages.
Why would you want to send a professional email? There are a number of reasons. You might send your cover letter to a potential employer, a thank you letter to a colleague who agreed to be a reference, a resignation letter to your current boss, or a request for a letter of recommendation.
You may have other reasons for sending non-personal emails, and in fact, it’s a good idea to make sure all your email is organized and professional. Here’s what to include in your messages, what not to include, and how to close, sign and send your email messages.
Professional Email Message Guidelines
Review these steps to write a high-quality professional email, and you’ll always make a great impression on the recipient:
- Subject Line: The subject line should concisely convey your purpose for writing. Your subject line can be as simple as “Thank You” or “Request for Recommendation.”
- Greeting: Even if you are writing a very short email, include a greeting. If you know the name of the person, include it. Unless you are on a first-name basis with the person, call them by their title.
- Length: Keep your email as concise as possible. People tend to skim long emails, so only include essential information.
- Font Style: Avoid ornate, playful, or colored fonts; these simply distract the recipient from your actual message. Avoid overusing bold and italics as well, which make an email look cluttered. Do not write in all capital letters either; this comes across as angry or overexcited in an email.
- Emoticons: Do not include emoticons in a professional email; save these for personal correspondence.
- Spelling and Grammar: Just because you are writing an email does not mean you should be sloppy about spelling and grammar. Edit your email carefully before sending it. An error-free message tells the recipient that your email should be taken seriously.
- Closing: Sign off with a brief “Thank you,” “Best,” or another simple send-off, and then your name. Most email accounts let you embed a signature with your name, title, and contact information into every email. It is a terrific way to make each correspondence more professional.
Once you’ve written your email, go through all these steps before you click the “send” button:
- Make Sure Your Message is Complete: Double check to make sure the Subject line of your email is filled in, you have included a signature , you are sending the message to the right contact person, and you have filled in the Bcc field to send a copy to yourself, so you have a record of the email message.
- Proof Your Email Message: Before you hit send, also make sure you spell check and check your grammar and capitalization. They are just as important in email job search correspondence as they are in a paper letter.
- Send a Test Email Message: Before you actually send your email, send the message to yourself first to check that the formatting works and that nothing looks out of place. If everything looks good, go ahead and send the email to the company or individual you’re contacting.
- Send a Copy of the Email Message to Yourself: Use the Bcc field to send a copy of the email message to yourself, so you have a record of when you sent the message and who you sent it to. You can also find this information in your sent folder.
- File Your Copies: With many email programs you can send up folders to make it easier to find any important past emails. Set up a folder for all your job search emails and file your copies of the email message you send in your job search folder.
Check Your Email Regularly
Time is of the essence when you’re job searching, so it’s important to check your email regularly and frequently, so you don’t miss out on any important opportunities. At the very least, check your email in the morning, and during the early afternoon, so you’ll have time to respond promptly to the messages you receive.
These days, having a smartphone can make it easy to check your emails wherever you go and whenever you want – no more hovering over your computer. In fact, you can get notifications for new email messages, so you can read them as soon as they hit your inbox.
Here Are Some Great Formatting Tips for Sending Professional Emails
Here Are Writing Guidelines for Professional Letters and Emails
What Are Good Email Etiquette Tips for Job Seekers?
7 Essentials for Effective Email Communication
How to Introduce Yourself in an Email
Best Professional Email Message Closing Examples
Employment-Related Email Message Examples, and Formatting Advice
Here Are Tips on How to Select the Best Font Style and Size for Email
Appreciation Email Examples for Work
How to Accept a Job Offer With Sample Acceptance Letters
What to Write When You Have to Quit Your Job via Email
Sample Format for Writing a Letter
How to Follow in Writing Up After You’ve Submitted Your Resume
How to Create a Professional Email Signature
Here Are Tips on Sending a Congratulations Emails for a Job Well Done
Applying for a Job? What to Put in the Email Subject Line
Insights for salespeople.
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How to Send A Formal Email Fast And With Confidence
Sending a formal email is one of those things we put off doing.
Why? Because it can be a little uncomfortable.
Start tracking your emails to see opens in real-time. (They’ll never know.)
Tight on time? Jump around to any section.
- How to Write a Formal Email (And What to Avoid)
- 5 Common Email Mistakes That Could Be Making You Look Bad
- 4 Formal Email Templates To Add To Your Portfolio Now
- Over To You
How to Write a Formal Email (And What to Avoid)
Formal emails require Formal English writing. This means including complete sentences, conjunctions, and transition words; informal writing has fragments and comma splices, rarely does informal messaging contain conjunctions or transition words. Punctuation, paragraph form, greetings, and sign-offs also vary from formal to informal communication.
Here’s a graphic showing the complete list of differences:
5 Common Email Mistakes That Could Be Making You Look Bad
Before we go on to cover how to write a formal email, here are some email errors you should make sure to avoid :
1. Putting the wrong outfit on your greeting line.
The correct style of capitalization to use in your salutation is sentence case.
Here are the worst offenders for formal email greetings :
“Good Morning” → should be “Good morning”
“Good Afternoon”→ should be “Good afternoon”
“To Whom It May Concern” → should be “To whom it may concern”
The exception to the rule: proper nouns (i.e. people’s first names, Ms./Mr. + last name, or job title).
2. Forgetting to invite your colon to the party.
When you’re writing a formal email, your salutation should end with a colon, not a comma.
3. Putting comma splices in a forbidden place.
Your formal emails should never have comma splices.
A comma splice is what happens when you join two complete sentences with a comma.
The takeaway: Comma splices are incorrect English grammar. They belong in text messages and other informal conversation.
4. Leaving your end punctuation out in the cold.
Whenever you have a phrase or sentence in quotes, your end punctuation should go before the end quote.
This applies to commas that go on to continue sentences and periods that end them.
The exceptions to this rule are the following types of punctuation: semicolons, colons, and dashes. These should go outside of quotation marks. (Question marks are a little more tricky .)
5. Leaning on sheepish introductions.
As Americans, we pride ourselves on being direct.
But we aren’t always.
How many times have you found yourself writing phrases like “I am writing to”?
This is a roundabout way of setting up your request. It’s very indirect.
You can’t afford to be sheepish when your entire email has seven seconds to get their attention.
I am writing to tell you that it’s time to stop using this phrase.
Other examples of phrases to avoid:
- “I wanted to ask you”
- “I wanted to let you know that”
- “I am reaching out to”
- “The reason for my email is that”
- “The purpose of this email is to”
Go ahead — jump right to that thing you’re winding up to.
- Each phrase becomes self-evident with the text that follows. This makes you redundant where your messaging is most important: your first line.
- Being indirect doesn’t change the fact that you’re asking for or stating something uncomfortable. If anything, it shows a hesitancy to leave your comfort zone.
- The email isn’t about you. It’s about what’s important to your recipient. Start with them.
What to do instead:
Start your draft with “I am writing to” to get your writing flow going. When you’re done, go back and delete that phrase. In most cases, you’ll still have a complete sentence without it. If you don’t, make the slight edit to turn what you have into a complete sentence.
4 Formal Email Templates To Add To Your Portfolio Now
Here’s a doc with all four templates — for easy copying.
1. How To Get To The Point With a Formal Email Request
By now we know that people read (aka scan) in an F pattern , which means you need to format your email accordingly.
Don’t write a novel when your recipients are busy, and get to the point with the first sentence.
You also need to include this one word:
Scannable copy gets people to read your email, but this one word get them to take action.
Here’s the proof:
As part of a research experiment , people were asked three variations of the same request:
Even when the person requesting to cut had the same reason as the person first in line, the compliance rate stayed at 93% with the word “because.”
Okay, onto the template (try this free trial to save the text right to your inbox) .
Subject Line Option A: Important – Action Required: !Topic
Subject Line Option B: Please Read: Needs Your Attention
Good morning, !all/team/person:
!Give pertinent context here.
!Link for further reference
My request to you: !formal request in one sentence.
- !Action Item 1
- !Action item 2
More info on !topic…
What it involves:
!1 sentence summing up the context.
This matters because:
-!WIIFY — point 1.
-!WIIFY — point 2.
-!WIIFY — point 3.
Thank you for your help!
Grab a signoff line here — because writing “best” or “thanks” every time is a missed opportunity.
And here’s an email example to get you going with filling out the template:
2. How To Send An Email Update That Is Clear And Quick
We need repetition to retain new information.
There’s a theory in advertising called “effective frequency” that also applies to email recipients. People need to see a message a certain number times before they absorb it. (Any number of repeats less than that is ineffective, and any number more is wasteful.)
When it comes to your formal email, repeat your message in these three places at a minimum: the subject line, intro, and conclusion.
Here’s a template:
Subject Line: !Topic | !Who/What It Affects
It is my pleasure to announce that !change and people/focus it affects.
!Person or topic 1
[Who/Why/What/Where/When. Tell a story here about how this change came to be.]
!Person or topic 2
[Who/Why/What/Where/When. Tell a story here about how this change came to be.]
[Final sentence reiterating change and how it affects readers.] Please join me in !action.
And here’s an example of the template above in real-life to announce promotions on our Customer Success team:
BONUS: Save the templates in this blog post to your own inbox.
3. How To Apologize Effectively Over Email
You might not remember it, but in June 2014, Facebook messed up.
They took your newsfeed and let researchers manipulate it .
Half of users saw fewer positive posts than usual; the other half saw fewer negative ones.
When news broke, people were pissed. And Facebook refused to apologize.
It wasn’t until a week later that the COO admitted that they had poorly communicated, and three months after that the CTO said they should have done things differently.
But they still didn’t use the words “sorry” or “apologize.”
Here’s why saying sorry is worth it:
- It shows customers that they are top of mind and that proper communication is more important than saving face.
- It clarifies the cause, how exactly the mistake affects customers, and what action you’re taking to fix it.
The Formal Apology: Five Ingredients That Will Get Them To Accept
- The words “sorry” or “I/we apologize”
- What happened
- The fix for now
- What you’re doing to prevent it happening in the future
Hint: Only send an apology if you have taken, are taking, or know exactly how to (and will) take action to fix the issue. Otherwise, your email calls attention to a problem without a solution.
Here’s an in-depth example from Moz.
And here’s a template to copy and use right now:
Subject line: !focus area of issue
Hello !Customer Name,
!We/team name discovered an issue with !what !when.
What it means:
!Negative affect to users.
!Note assuring users of things unaffected
As soon as our team identified the issue, it was addressed and remediated !same day.
What you can do:
On behalf of !team or company name, we are very sorry for the inconvenience this causes you. I can assure you that we are analyzing how this issue occurred and ways to completely prevent recurrence in the future.
Thank you for your patience,
4. How To Write a Notice of Termination When You Need To
There’s no comfortable way to tell someone you’re cutting ties with them.
But when a behavior of a customer (or a level of service from a partner) violates your contract, it’s something you have to do.
Use this template as a guiding point (vetted by our Director of Information Security — see example below template).
To whom it may concern:
Please be advised that, effective immediately, we have terminated your account with !Company due to !reason.
We regret having to take this action, but after our discussions with you !Date & Time regarding !Wrongdoing, we have seen no change in !usage type.
The manner in which you are using our service jeopardizes !Thing 1 as well as !Thing 2.
While the messaging is very direct, you need to be in a situation like this for legal purposes, clarity to the recipient, and finality. Language like “termination” and “effective immediately” show that this is a decision with no wiggle room for compromise.
Hint: If there were prior violations or instances where you gave warning, make sure to cite them.
Over To You
Do you have any formal email examples you’d like to share? We welcome new scenarios that we haven’t covered. 🤗 Tweet us @Yesware .
Written by Elise Musumano
Product Marketing Manager at Yesware.
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