If earlier we used emails just to exchange messages with our friends, now it is a powerful business instrument that allows reaching potential customers or communicating with partners or suppliers quickly and cheaply. Emails changed the way we work entirely – now it`s the main means of communication we use every day and a few times a day. However, business emails differ from regular ones by its structure, tone, and format.
In this guide, we will discuss the main components of a business email and how to write a professional email regarding the person you are addressing.
Business email format
The main purpose of writing an email is to send some information. Although emails are less formal than business letters, grammar and syntax rules help this information be easily read perceived so there are certain rules we should use when it comes to business email communication. First of all, it`s a general tone: it can be really tough to find the right one and it changes based on your audience (formal, friendly, formal-friendly, professional, etc).
Being brief, do not sacrifice being polite as it is still very important. Please and thank you words are your best friends, but the thing you should definitely avoid is emojis and typing in caps lock. Even if your initial goal was to underline particular information, your recipient may think you are yelling which is absolutely not appropriate. Use bold type to emphasize specific words instead. One exception here would be organizations that accept emails in which headings are typed in caps (military, financial institutions, academies, etc).
Etiquette has a great impact when you learn how to write a business email. There is a lot of confusion: how to start your email, whether you should address a person as dear or just by name, abbreviations use, finishing with regards or sincerely, etc. First, do not greet your recipient with hi, as it is not formal, may seem rude and can offend them. If you do not know the name, use their title. In the email body use short paragraphs, bullets, lists and other means providing a clear structure (no one would read a big sheet of text not divided by anything).
If you copy information from other documents, format it properly because when pasting it all formats and styles will be saved and no one should notice it (this is at least not respecting). Here are the tools you can use for editing:
- Font. Choose any standard font you like and keep the email formatted from start to the end not changing it. Keep the size between 10-12 pt for easy reading;
- Make heading bold. You can also emphasize important information in the text with bold to attract the reader`s attention. Do not underline: this is rather used for links and can distract from your point. If you want softly catch the reader`s eye, use Italics;
- Keep the content to the left (standard rules). The first sentence of the paragraph should have 5 spaces and be aligned to the left in academic writing, but in business emails, it is enough just to keep it left and the paragraphs would be divided by a line break;
- Use numbered lists or bullet points. It allows creating white space on the page for clear reading and information would be structured for better understanding. Use numbers when the sequence is important and bullets in all other cases;
- Text color. Not recommended in business emails as it distracts attention and looks unprofessional;
- Quotes. Use them if you are referring to another source or person by a grey vertical line in your text;
- Addressing the person. You can write to a single person or include a few recipients in your email. This includes such fields as To:, CC: and BCC. The main focus should be turned into the TO section (this is a direct audience). CC field is meant for those who need to receive the email but who do not have to participate in the conversation and reply to it. The BCC section will only see the initial message but the whole chain will be hidden.
Disclaimers and signatures
If you google how to write an email, you will see that many companies use the so-called email disclaimer at the bottom of all the emails they send. They are used to inform the reader that the content is confidential. Writing a disclaimer, keep it short and distinguishable from the text body. A disclaimer usually comes right after the signature as the last part of your business email.
Signatures should be short as well and contain your name, picture, title, company (and its address), website, links to your social pages, etc. Avoid using slogans and irrelevant information when writing. It is not necessary and can ruin the whole email you have been writing so carefully (and maybe even the image of your company).