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How to Write a Business Email in English - Do's and Don't's

Akshat Biyani
Akshat Biyani

Did you know that there are more than 4.3 billion email users in the world? This means that more than half the world’s population uses email to communicate with others. With the volume of emails sent each day only growing (347.3 billion!), it is important that emails sent for business purposes are worded and structured well so that they aren’t lost in all the digital noise.   

Emails are now a primary mode of communication in the business world. With most companies digitizing their operations, emails are an indispensable way to exchange ideas, ask questions, stay informed, communicate instructions, and define commitments. Emails are also the medium through which information about day-to-day work is exchanged and plans are discussed. 

Since emails are such an important part of communications in the business world, they must be written professionally. A poorly written or shoddily structured email that doesn’t communicate its intent clearly can be off-putting for the recipient and reflect poorly on you. 

So let’s find out more about what a business email is and how you can learn to write a perfect one. 

What is a business email?

A business email is a tool used to communicate useful information with employees within an organization, or with partners, clients, suppliers, and stakeholders outside it. They are the official means of communication in various professional and workplace situations. For instance:

  • Sharing information
  • Sending updates 
  • Sharing documents
  • Staying in touch with clients
  • Supporting customers
  • Dealing with customer complaints
  • Corresponding with suppliers

Business emails share a few common features that differentiate them from personal or general emails. Here are some: 

  • They are usually short, precise, and to the point. 
  • They use formal greetings such as “Dear {First name}” or “To Whom It May Concern”.
  • They include a formal subject line. 
  • They might require a formal response.

Now that we’re clear about the basic characteristics of a business email, let’s look at how you can write a professional email.  

How to write a professional email in English

How to write a professional email in English

Writing a business email is about maintaining a consistent tone and conveying your message as precisely and respectfully as possible. It contains no frills or asides and communicates its points effectively. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind while writing a business email: 

  • Include a clear subject line

    A subject line is a single-line introduction to the contents of the email. It typically shows up above the body of the email and indicates to the recipient the primary purpose of the letter. The subject line should convey - ideally in ten words or less - what the email is about so that the recipient can quickly judge its urgency and significance. For instance, an email to a company in response to a vacancy could contain the subject line – ‘Job Application’.

  • Use an appropriate greeting or address

    The greeting you choose depends both on who you are and who you are writing to. For example, if you are writing to a senior manager, you will want to begin with a ‘Dear ___ or Hi __’. In certain cases, you might want to address someone by their last name if you want to keep things a bit more formal. For example, ‘Dear Mr. Smith’ could work when addressing a senior or a client.

  • Write a concise body copyl

    This refers to the main content of the email, where you delve into the message you want to convey. Unless the situation calls for an elaborate explanation or context, it’s generally a good idea to keep the body of the email direct and concise so that the reader can go through it quickly. Longer emails that pack in a lot of detail should still be written succinctly and without repetition. Overall, your body copy should display a clear intent and purpose on the first read without the recipient having to go through it again.

  • Aim is clear, concise communication

    In standard spoken English, the goal of the speaker is to communicate ideas as accurately as possible with all of their emotions and context intact. That is why descriptive tools like exclamations, slang, and cultural expressions are widely used in this format. Business English, on the other hand, has one overriding goal - facilitating clear and concise communication. Elements like idioms and sarcasm can be misinterpreted by speakers who aren’t familiar with the context, which can lead to a loss of time and money in corporate settings. This is why business English makes use of a minimalist vocabulary where there’s little to no room for miscommunication.

  • Include a call to action or a closing line

    Remember to close your email with the relevant call to action, reminder, or request for a response. That way, the email clearly states what it needs the recipient to do and keeps the channel open for further conversation. Here are some examples of how you can close a business email. These are just for indication and you are encouraged to come on your own with lines that fit the particular email you’re writing better

    • I would appreciate your assistance in this matter.
    • Do let me know if you have any questions.
    • Please let me know your thoughts on this matter.
    • Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.
    • Feel free to contact me if you have any questions
    • Please let me know when it might be a good time to schedule a meeting
    • I will write to you next week to follow up on this.
    • I look forward to a great working relationship with your firm.
    • Looking forward to your input on this.
  • End the email with an appropriate sign-off

    It’s very important to end your email on the right note, so make sure you choose the correct sign-off. You can end with a simple ‘Thank you’ or ‘Regards’ on most business emails. Other options include:

    • Sincerely
    • Respectfully
    • With best wishes
    • Sincerely yours
    • Kind regards

Tips for writing a professional email

As with all forms of communication, there are no rigid rules about writing a professional email outside the bounds of good language and articulation. However, these tips can serve as a set of general guidelines for writing clean, effective, and smart professional emails. 

  • Don’t write unnecessarily long emails where the intent and message run the risk of getting lost in detail. 
  • Be clear about the tone of your email based on what the subject is and who you are writing to. If you are writing to your supervisor, you will need to be formal, whereas if the email is addressed to a colleague, you can write a bit more informally. 
  • Avoid repetition, cliches, and unwarranted use of phrases and idioms. 
  • Avoid using too many exclamation points, especially in formal emails. 

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