Knowing how to write a professional email is an essential skill in the modern workforce.
Writing an email may sound easy — it’s something many of us do every day — but keep in mind that there are different types of emails. Whereas personal emails may include slang, emojis, or informal language, professional emails have evolved to use a more consistent and formal tone.
Sending professional emails is something you will have to do repeatedly throughout your career. You may need to send a cover letter to an employer, a thank-you letter after participating in a job interview, a resignation letter to your current manager, or a message to a customer.
In this guide, we’re going to break down the steps to follow to write a professional email and explore its main components.
How to Format a Professional Email
Professional emails consist of a few elements. Let’s break them down and briefly discuss how they should be used.
Feature #1: Subject line
The subject line should convey the purpose of the email. Having a clear subject line is essential. The recipient will use the subject line to find the email in their inbox and will help them evaluate when to open the email.
A short subject line is all you need. For instance, if you are requesting that a co-worker reviews a presentation, you could say:
“Q1 Sales Statistics: Review Request”
Feature #2: Salutation
The salutation is the greeting you are using in the email. It should be something like:
“Hello Mrs. Madeline”
“Dear Mr. Johnson”
Feature #3: Body
The body is the main block of text in an email and where you express your message. Here is an example of an email body:
“I have just finished revising the Q1 sales statistics deck as per your request. I have attached the revised deck and I was wondering if you would be able to review it in advance of our presentation to the executive team later this week.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.”
Feature #4: Close and signature
The closing line is the final line before the signature that concludes your email. A simple close for an email could be one of the following:
Following the closing line, you should add your signature. Most email providers allow you to automatically embed a signature into your emails. If you do not already have one set up, you may want to write one manually at the end of your email. Here is an example email signature:
Junior Developer Advocate
Software Business Name”
Tips on How to Write a Professional Email
To help you get started, here are five steps you can follow to craft a professional email.
Step #1: Reflect on the purpose of the email
Before you send the email, consider why you want to write it in the first place. What is the recipient gaining by reading your email?
Reflecting on the purpose of an email will help you anchor its contents toward a specific action. Suppose you are requesting a reference from your former boss. You’ll need to let them know you are applying for a new job and clearly request that they send you a recommendation letter.
Step #2: Keep it short and simple
Professional emails should be concise and to-the-point.
When writing your email, keep in mind that the recipient may be a busy person. They may not have the time to read a long email and craft a lengthy response.
Try to make your email as short as possible, including only the essential information that the reader needs to know. Use short sentences and remove anything superfluous.
Step #3: Review your email
Sending an error-free email is crucial.
Before you hit “send,” make sure you have read over the entire text and check for spelling or grammar errors. You may also want to use a spell-checker if your email application doesn’t already provide one.
Many people send their emails only to find out they have forgotten to attach an important document. Make sure to add any necessary attachments before hitting “send.”
Before you send the email to the intended recipient, you may want to send a test email to yourself, particularly if it is an important message. Doing this will help you ensure that the email that reaches the recipient does not contain any mistakes.
Step 4: Be polite and respectful
In general, you want your emails to be polite and respectful.
Start your email with a friendly greeting that is also appropriate given the intended recipient and situation. Also, don’t forget to thank the recipient for taking the time to read your email, especially if it is a long one.
Step #5: Follow up
Often, someone will forget to respond to your email or will miss it entirely. Busy professionals receive dozens of important emails every day.
If you have not received a response within two days, feel free to send a quick follow-up email so that your communication resurfaces in their inbox.
Professional Email Examples
Now that we’ve discussed the basic components of a professional email, we are ready to look at a few examples. Here are two professional emails:
Example #1: Email to request a document
Subject: Revised Sales Statistics Request
I have been working on preparing the Q1 sales deck for the executive team, and I was informed by Carlie that I may have been using outdated figures.
Would you be able to generate a new report with the updated sales figures that accounts for all refunds we have received? It would also be appreciated if you could update the spreadsheet in our shared drive to reflect the new figures, so that we do not get confused between the old and the revised statistics.
Example #2: Email to follow-up after a meeting
Subject: Q1 Sales Meeting Follow-Up
Thank you all for attending the Q1 sales meeting this morning.
Here attached is a copy of the agenda, as well as the minutes of the meeting which have just been finalized. As stated, we would appreciate it if you all submitted a check-in by Wednesday with your progress toward the action items we discussed.
Let me know if you have any questions or require any clarification on the agenda or minutes of the meeting.
Being able to write a professional email is an invaluable skill. All business communication, from resignation letters to follow-up emails, should be professional and free of grammatical errors, even emails.
In your emails, remember to maintain a professional tone. Be as clear as possible about your reasons to write the email and any requests you have for the recipient. Finally, proofread the message before you send it to make sure there are no mistakes.
By following these tips and tricks, you’ll have no trouble writing a professional email.