How To Write a Professional Email: Professional Email Format and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 October 2022 | Published 22 July 2021

Updated 30 October 2022

Published 22 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Email is the most common and extensively utilised method of business communication that can potentially lead to business success. A well-written email can improve your professional relationship or establish a good reputation for yourself. Understanding how to format professional emails can help you communicate effectively at work. In this article, we outline a professional email format that enhances the likelihood that the recipient may read and respond positively to your email.

What is a proper professional email format?

Outlined below is the conventional professional email format you can use:

1. Subject line

The subject line is a concise statement that summarises the goal of your message or communication. Listed below are some reasons why a well-written subject line is essential:

  • It determines whether your recipient opens the email. Whether you're cold-emailing someone or establishing a business connection, you can persuade individuals to open the message with the subject line. When you phrase your email subject well and make it informative, the reader is more likely to open and read it.

  • It informs the recipient what to expect in the email. The most effective subject line directly tells the recipient exactly what lies within. When your recipient sees “Follow Up: Site Layout Plan 2021”, there's clarity as to why and what you're writing.

  • It incites the recipient's interest. Your subject line has the potential to attract the recipient's attention. This is especially crucial when sending cold emails to people you don't know on a personal level.

  • It assists the recipient in prioritising their busy inbox. A subject line may build urgency and enable the recipient to identify which emails require immediate attention. It also allows your recipient to quickly locate the message when necessary.

Example: Follow Up: Marketing Proposal

Related: How To Write a Professional Formal Letter

2. Salutation

Salutation is the first thing your recipient sees when they open your email. Before you go into your main message, you can include a quick greeting to acknowledge the recipient. The use of salutation can have a pleasant impact on the recipient and can establish the tone for the remainder of your message.

Be mindful to maintain a professional tone, even if you know the recipient well. Anticipate that your email can be forwarded or become a part of a “reply all” chain, allowing people other than your intended recipient to see your email. As a general rule for formal emails, you can use "Dear" followed by the recipient's honorific, last name and a comma to address your recipient. But it's also appropriate to use "Hi" or "Hello" to address your colleague or someone you're closer to.

Example: Dear Mr. Tan,

3. Body

The body of an email conveys the main message and needs a clear and defined objective. It has to be succinct to enable the recipients to better grasp the content and prevent missing any crucial information. In cases where the emails require more length and detail, strive to keep them as concise and targeted as possible. You can use bulleted or numbered lists to add clarity. Typically, the body of your message can contain the following:

Introduction

If it's your first point of contact, you can make use of the introduction to introduce who you are. If you're replying to the other person's inquiry, you can begin with a line of gratitude. For instance, you can say, “Thank you for your prompt reply” or “Thank you for contacting Nuul's Corporation”.

The reason why you're writing

This is a crucial element in the email body. Clearly state the purpose of your email, the relevant and necessary information to provide context, and how the recipient can assist you. Remember that people want to skim through and read emails quickly, so keep your sentences short and clear.

Example: Thank you for sharing the marketing proposal this afternoon. I've attached additional materials and preliminary comments for you and your team to consider. Kindly let me know if you require further information.

4. Closing remarks

Before concluding your email, thank your recipient again and provide some closing remarks. The closing is the final line of your email before your signature. You may also reaffirm any demands expressed in the body of your email and the call to action here. You may begin by saying, "Thank you for your kind assistance and cooperation" or "Thank you for your consideration," and then say, "If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know" and "I look forward to hearing from you."

Example: Thank you once again for your prompt reply. I look forward to meeting you on Friday.

5. Signature

You want to conclude impactfully, just as you want to make a good first impression at the beginning. This may be accomplished by finishing the email with a courteous and appropriate closing and signature. Be brief and straightforward in your sign-off statement. “Thank you” may suffice for any requests made. Otherwise, you can use "Respectfully" or "Best Regards".

Lastly, include your email signature below the sign-off statement. Include your name, title, phone number and any other information relevant to your recipient. You may also include a link to your professional social media accounts you'd like your business partners to have access to. Most email applications allow you to set up a fixed signature that can be attached to the end of each email you send.

Example:

Respectfully,
David Tan
Assistant Manager
Heng's Law Corporation

6. Relevant attachments (optional)

In some circumstances, you can include files to support the message you're trying to convey. For instance, applying for a job involves attaching a resume, cover letter or portfolio. Before sending the email, be sure to double-check that you have attached all the files listed in your email.

How do you write a professional email?

Now that you know the format of a professional email, here are some tips to write one:

1. Determine your goal

Before writing the email, decide what you want the recipient to do after reading it. Once you have defined the purpose of your email, you can ensure that everything in it contributes to that objective. As an illustration, if you want the recipient to revise the proposal you've attached, explain what the shortcomings are, what they can do to improve it and when you'll need it.

2. Know your audience

Not every professional email recipient is the same. Thus, it's important to structure and write professional emails differently for each recipient. You can write and format your emails more formally or informally depending on how close you are to the recipient as well as the recipient's formal position. Ultimately, the tone of your email determines your opening and closing remarks. For example, if you're emailing a business executive you've never met, make it fully professional and informative. In contrast, if you're emailing a colleague with whom you have a good working connection, you may be less formal and more friendly.

3. Keep it concise

Don't mistake length for quality. Always keep in mind that your receiver may not have a lot of time to read your email. That's why it's wise to keep your email as brief as possible without omitting any important information. Avoid covering too many issues at once, since this may result in your message being overly lengthy, hard to read and difficult to act on. Remove any filler words and phrases, extremely complicated sentences as well as content that is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

4. Proofread your email

An error-free email displays attention to detail and professionalism. Take the time to go over your email draft and check for spelling, grammatical and syntax problems before sending your email. Be sure to eliminate wordiness and remove irrelevant content. If you're truly worried about spelling mistakes, you can try printing your email draft. It's often easier to notice typos and grammatical problems on paper. Also double-check to ensure that you have included the necessary attachments. If it's an essential email to key business partners, you can have your immediate supervisor or trusted coworker review it before you send it.

5. Demonstrate proper etiquette

Include a respectful salutation and closing to come across as courteous and polite. Furthermore, be mindful and considerate of the recipient's time. For example, unless there's an emergency, avoid emailing someone asking for something after-hours or while they're on leave.

6. Maintain a professional tone

Be professional when composing your email. Stick with the conventional fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Sans Serif. Avoid playing with contemporary fonts and colours, as it may give the recipient the impression that you're not serious or even disrespectful. You can use italics and bold letters selectively for emphasis. Moreover, when interacting with superiors, make sure to address them with the appropriate titles. Remember that a good email can impress your recipient and help you accomplish your goals.

7. Always remember to follow up

Because most people receive numerous emails every day, they may overlook or forget to respond to your message. If the recipient hasn't answered within two business days, try writing an amicable and polite follow-up email. As such, you can ensure that you capture the attention of the recipient and potentially give them something of value.

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