How to write professional e-mails in English

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* This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

It’s essential to communicate effectively in the workplace and today e-mails are one of the key ways we communicate with others. Following is a guideline of how to write professional e-mails in English:

1) The subject line

The subject tells the recipient what the e-mail is about. It should be clear and brief.

  • Meeting June 15, 3:00
  • Trade fair in New York, April 2018
  • Sales Presentation
  • Lunch on May 3rd

2) Addressing the recipient

There are different ways to greet the recipient, depending on who it is and if you know the person.

The most common way to address the recipient is:

  • Dear + the name of the person
  • Dear Susan Dear Mr. Brown Dear Mrs. Arnold

In formal situations:

  • Use the recipient’s full name: Dear Mr. Kenney
  • If you don’t know the person’s name: To whom it may concern
  • For someone you know well, you may use their first name : Dear Mike
  • For family members or friends in an informal e-mail: Hi Jennifer

3) Starting an E-mail

The beginning of an e-mail should express the purpose. Are we applying for a job, saying thank you or asking for something? The tone and first lines will reflect what the purpose of the e-mail is.

To apply for a job:

  • I am writing to express my interest in ‘Blue Denim, Inc.’
  • I am contacting you to apply for the secretary position listed on your website.

To arrange a meeting:

  • Would it be possible to meet this Friday at 10 a.m.?
  • We would like to invite you back for a second interview. Are you available on August 12th at 9:00?

To thank the recipient:

  • Thank you for sending us your resume.
  • Thank you for inviting me to the trade fair.
  • Thanks for your quick reply.

Asking for a favor:

  • I wanted to ask you for a favor.
  • I would like to see if it would be possible…

4) Informal Greetings:

If the recipient is someone you know or you have corresponded with previously, you may start with:

  • How are you?
  • I was glad to hear from you.
  • I hope you are well.

5) Attaching files

When you attach a document or file to your e-mail you can write:

  • Please find attached the sales presentation…
  • I have attached the document…
  • Please find attached my c.v.

6) Ending an email

When we end an e-mail it should be clear exactly what we are expecting from the recipient in their response.

  • Please let me know by Friday if you can attend the meeting.
  • Please contact me if there are any vacancies in your company.
  • Can you please send me your new catalog?

Closing lines

Here are a few common closing lines:

  • Thank you for your attention.
  • Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Many thanks.
  • I look forward to hearing from you.

The Closing

  • When we end the email we use a closing before our name.
  • In formal situations use : Best regards Kind regards Sincerely
  • In informal situations use: Best wishes Cheers

Lastly, it is a good idea to proofread your email before you send it to make sure there are no spelling mistakes, that it is clear and that you haven’t forgotten any key points.

Following are some suggestions for writing a professional email.

* This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)