Tips to Keep in Mind When Writing a Professional Email

Email exchanges are common in workplace settings and even everyday life. In fact, according to recent global statistics, in 2023, 347.3 billion emails were sent and received daily. This number is set only to rise in the next few years. The statistics demonstrate the importance of knowing how to send a proper email. While some emails can afford to be highly informal in how they are drafted, when approaching someone for a professional task, there is a specific way a person is expected to reach out to them. This is why people adopt sending emails instead of using other communication platforms, which alternatively allows users to communicate and exchange documents informally if required. Whether you are an intern, trainee, executive or seasoned manager, no one will specifically teach you how to write an email. However, this is one of the many things professionals are expected to excel at. This article will explain the essential things one should remember when writing an email.

Tips To Follow Before Clicking Send

Every day people struggle to finalise their email when sending it. No matter how short it is, you may be going through so many questions in your head. For instance, questioning whether the tone is pleasant enough, whether the message you have written is stated clearly or precisely, and whether it is respectful are three of the common questions most people ask themselves. As digital communication ignores verbal and non-verbal cues such as one’s body language, eye contact and tonal variation, additional effort must be put to ensure that everything about the email comes across as intended. Here are some ways to be more sure and confident in how you send emails next time.

What is the Most Appropriate Greeting? - Dear, Hello, To Whom it May Concern or Just The Person’s Name

This is the first thing a person sees when they open your email. To a certain extent, the vibe of the email can be determined by how you address the person. Unfortunately, there is no correct answer, as this usually depends on your relationship with the intended recipient. This also means starting with a simple hello or even the person’s name in a professional email is acceptable if you and the other party are on good terms. Generally, you would greet them in such a manner if the recipient is a colleague or someone you have a familiar relationship with. 

If you do not know the recipient and this individual is a potential client, a business partner or someone else, starting with ‘Dear’ is the most appropriate. If you know the person’s name, you may add the name following ‘Dear’. Note, however, that you should only address a person with their name if you directly email them to their specific email address. If, on the other hand, you are sending the email to a general email address,  it is always best to use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or a phrase like ‘To Whom it May Concern’. 

In situations where an email is being addressed to one’s name, you are advised not to use honorifics or titles if you are unsure of the person’s proper term. As you do not know how one prefers to be addressed, it is best to stay gender-neutral and only greet them with ‘Dear’ and the person’s name. Remember to double-check whether the person’s name has been spelt correctly.  

What About The Tone of the Body Copy of the Email?

The tone you wish to establish in an email demonstrates how serious the contents of the email are. Understanding that verbal and non-verbal cues are absent; an email will generally emit one specific feeling, attempting to portray one type of tone. Companies may send emails formally when sent to everyone. Examples of such emails include informing employees of new policies, giving official warnings and conveying other corporate notifications. In such situations, no effort is usually taken by the writer to make it sound friendly, for instance. 

While a formal tone may sound like the email is serious, you should not be writing phrases in block letters. The line between being serious and emitting your anger is entirely different. Ensuring all grammatical and spelling errors are perfect helps to keep the tone of an official email more formal. Additionally, not all emails to employees are formal. They could also be friendly and casual, depending on the purpose of writing the email. Prior to sending out any email, take some time to read it out loud to understand how it sounds. Try as much as possible to use emoticons to a minimum as much as possible, even when keeping it casual. 

The tone you set in the body of the email also informs the reader whether the recipient is meant to respond. Being mindful of the time you send the email and being considerate of the recipient’s time zone are other important factors you need to consider when establishing the tone of the email. Keeping all of this in mind ensures that a person understands different working environments well.

How Clear and Precise Do You Need To Be?

One important aspect of sending an email, regardless of the tone, is making the underlying message of the email clear from the get-go. Within the first two lines of reading an email, you need to inform the recipeint/s of the purpose for writing the email. This is important whether you choose to write a friendly or formal email. 

The shorter an email is, the better, as it indicates that you respect the recipient’s time. Three brief paragraphs, each consisting of three to five sentences, are acceptable. It is also fine to use bullet points within your email to be succinct. For example, listing the things that must be discussed or done within the next few days makes it easier for the other to understand what is expected from the email interaction. 

It is also very rare for an email to be extremely bulky and long. In fact, if it does require you to type so much, it is a clear indication that email is not the best mode of communication. In such a situation, the most appropriate thing to do is to write to the other party about something you would like to discuss in detail and schedule an appointment or online call. You may list out briefly what you want to talk about so that the intention of the email is yet made clear and does not remain ambiguous as to why you need to talk to the recipient. 

Ending an email on a positive note is always recommended. This can also be done quickly by writing a friendly email closing, thanking the person if needed.

How Should You Sign Off?

Sign-off, valediction or salutation all refer to the same thing: the section of the email where a person writes their name at the end. This is a mandatory feature in any email, as no one introduces themselves with their name at the start. Hence, it is only at the end of the email that a person is made aware of the email’s writer. 

In a highly professional context, the rules are as simple as those followed when writing a letter. You must add a courteous sign-off that matches the tone set in your greeting. Sign-off phrases like ‘Best regards, Kind regards, or Warm regards’, should be followed by your email signature. While in a letter, you would have your signature and then your name and designation in a letter, incorporating a digital signature into an email is unnecessary. Instead, your name, title and company would be appropriate. 

You could also include company details, including the address, telephone and fax number, and the company’s generic email address as part of their email signature. To an extent, this is helpful, especially when one from a different company emails another. The additional details allow one to examine the company in question more thoroughly. Hence, it is essential to add a proper sign-off for emails to individuals outside of one’s company. 

On the other hand, if you are emailing a close colleague or someone from your own company, you do not have to put your signature. Nevertheless, mentioning your name in some form or manner remains to be a mandatory aspect. Choosing not to do so may come off as rude.

Email Like A Professional

Writing an email is like a form of art. As many professional relationships are built via email, much thought and consideration go into writing a professional email. Most often, the first interaction one has with a possible employee, employer, partner, or client is through email. Hence, think about how you should greet a person, the tone you should set throughout the email, the simplest way to convey your message and the appropriate way to sign off. Other additional tips to keep in mind are proofreading emails before sending them, emailing or responding to people only during work hours, and having a clear email subject. Build a reputation as a top professional by perfecting how you write emails.