How to Write a Formal Email (With 3 Examples)
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According to HubSpot, email volumes have increased by 44 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. If you’re a business professional, you need to be careful with how you communicate over email. It’s easy to slip into the habit of writing emails in a colloquial manner with abbreviations, slang, and poor grammar. This is why learning how to write a formal email is important.
But how do you go about doing this? Learn how to write a formal email that will leave a good impression with these top tips. Then, take advantage of the formal email templates we've made available.
1. Decide on the email’s target audience and aim
Before you send a formal email, you need to be clear as to who you are sending the message to and what you want the recipient to do when they’ve read it. Your target audience will directly impact on the writing style of the email.
You can then ensure your message supports this clearly. For example, if you are looking for the recipient to review something, your content has to be tailored to this aim.
2. Use a personal email address
Recipients typically trust a personalized email address as a rule. You are more likely to get someone to open your email from a real address ([email protected]) rather than a generic company address ([email protected]). A combination of a person’s name and a company name together in the sender’s name works well too.
3. Use a strong subject line
A powerful subject line can make or break the success of any formal email. It needs to grab the recipient’s attention the moment they look at it and encourage them to come looking for more. After all, it is the first piece of information that a recipient sees, so it needs to be clear and concise.
A good subject line might be “Meeting date changed” or “Suggestions for the proposal”. Many recipients will decide to open your email based on the subject line alone. Choose one that lets them know that directly relates to their business concerns or issues.
Make sure your subject line is accurate too. It should not make false promises as this will encourage recipients to delete your emails.
4. Use an appropriate email greeting
The way you start a formal email very much depends on how well you know the recipient.
5. Make the email body brief and concise
When writing a formal email, it needs to get to the point quickly. All your recipients are busy people and will not read reams of text. Stick to one topic so it is easy for someone to answer any questions you may have. This will also encourage more rapid replies.
At the same time, consider your audience. If you’re emailing someone you’ve never spoken to before, you should be as formal as possible with the language. This might make the email a bit longer, so consider how much information you really need to include.
6. Consider the formatting of your emails
Proper sentence structure is extremely important when it comes to writing a formal email. Using correct grammar and punctuation is the first place to start. Full stops, commas, question marks; these should be used correctly throughout.
Use paragraphs to break up the message and structure it so that it is easy to read at a glance. If the email can be read briefly, it will get higher levels of engagement even if the recipient doesn’t have the time to read it properly.
Standard font size (10pt or 12pt) is the only size that should be used when writing formal emails. Keep your font colors simple; black is the easiest color to read on all devices.
It’s recommended you use web safe font such as Arial or Calibri as these are easier to read. If you use custom fonts when sending an email, the font may not be installed on your recipient’s device. This means the text will automatically change to a default font such as Times New Roman.
Try to refrain from making your text bold, italicized, or underlined unless it is 100% necessary. It may come across as rude or pushy. Instead, use words to emphasize your point.
7. Use polite and friendly language
As formal emails are used within a professional context, the wording needs to duly reflect this. Complete sentences should be used with no casual language or slang.
It is best to not include humor unless you know the recipient very well. Even then, jokes can easily get lost in translation, so it is best to avoid using them within formal emails.
8. Use a suitable email closing to encourage action
So, how do you end your email? The main point is to make sure the copy clearly states what you want the recipient to do. Tell them if you want an answer to a specific question, confirm a meeting time, etc. Whatever the action is, make it clear and simple to carry out this action.
Once completed, close the message with an appropriate email sign-off. As with the opening, consider the context of the email. Some standard sign-offs include:
9. Use a professional email signature
Most people don't think too much about their email signatures, even though it is an important part of any corporate email. When a signature is designed well, it easily promotes your brand in a positive and professional manner.
Always ensure that your email signature includes essential contact details such as name, job title, company name and address, phone number, website URL, and email address. These can be generated automatically by using email signature management solutions.
10. Proofread your message before sending your formal email
Before you press Send, double check your email for spelling and grammar. Check for typos, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes. Avoid sending rushed emails and take the time to properly read all the content carefully.
Examples of formal emails
It is important to note that you represent your company in every email you send. A poorly written email does not just reflect badly on you, but on the company too.
Learning how to write formal emails can go a long way with business contacts, especially when forging new professional relationships. By following this guide, you will ensure you set a lasting impression with every formal email you send.
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