7 Rules for Professional Emails in English – Business English Skills

by | Apr 13, 2016 | 9 comments

Wait! Don’t type another email in English until you read this!

Texts, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are casual. And that is great for your friends and family.
But it is easy to forget one thing:  The importance of professional emails.

If you follow these simple rules for professional emails in English, you’ll make a good impression every time.

When you email your best friend from work or your mom, it is 100% okay to be casual and informal.

But what about when you’re writing:

  • your English-speaking boss about a situation a work
  • a new international client who you want to impress
  • a colleague in another country
  • your professor or English teacher
  • a Human Resources Manager about a new job opportunity in an English-speaking company
  • an employer about a job interview

In each of these situations, you need a professional email in English.

Why is this so important?

Your emails represent you. What you say and how you write gives an impression of you.

With some mistakes, you may seem rude, aggressive or angry.
With others, you may seem like a young teenager or too familiar.

But with a professional email style, you will appear just like that – a professional.

And, most importantly, I want you to be confident in the emails you send. I want you to feel good and know that you are writing great, professional emails in English.

7 Rules for Professional Emails in English

Yes, emails are more informal than business letters. But there are still rules for a professional email.
Especially in the English-speaking business and professional world.

Email etiquette can change from one culture to another and from one language to another. Today you will learn exactly what you need for a professional email in English.

1. Always use a subject line

The subject line is the first thing your reader will see. You want your subject line to be succinct (clear and brief).  This is your chance to catch your reader’s attention. It also helps the reader to immediately know what your email is about.

Without a clear subject line, your reader may not be interested in your email. And it is possible she will not read it.

Examples of clear subject lines:

  • Meeting date changed
  • Question about the conference
  • Can you meet on Monday?
  • Suggestion for your presentation

2. Use a professional greeting

Always, always, always start with a greeting. If you start without a greeting, your reader will notice immediately.

An email without a greeting, or with a greeting that is too informal, appears rude and too familiar.

Good examples of professional greetings:

  • Hello [first name],
  • Good morning / Good afternoon [first name],
  • Dear [first name],
  • Hi [first name] = with someone you know well

3. K.I.S.S.

That’s right! If you are not sure what to write in your email, remember this rule: KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)!

  • Avoid long, complicated sentences.
  • Don’t write several long paragraphs.
  • Use bullet points for important details or lists.

This will help your reader identify the important information immediately.

Most people are busy and they read emails quickly. Keep your sentences clear, your grammar simple and paragraphs short.
The KISS rule will also help you avoid potential grammar and vocabulary mistakes.

4. Use a professional closing

Like a greeting, you should always include a closing to be friendly, polite and professional. Without a closing, the end of the email feels abrupt and rude.

Example professional closings include:

  • I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Best wishes,
  • Sincerely,
  • Thank you for your time,
  • Warmly,

5. Be careful with ALL CAPITAL letters, abbreviations, and emojis.

USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS feels like you are screaming, which feels rude. It also looks unprofessional.

Abbreviations are common in texts, Twitter and Facebook, but they are not appropriate for business or professional emails. If you would not use abbreviations on your resumé or business letter, then you don’t want to use them in a professional email.
For example, do not write “LOL” for laughing out loud or “IMHO” for in my humble opinion or “gr8” for great.

Again, emojis are common with friends and family on social media, but they are not appropriate for business or professional correspondence (letters and emails).

6. Proofread your email

Be sure to always proofread your email before sending. In professional emails, grammar, spelling, and punctuation do matter!

Here are some issues to check for and correct if there are errors:

  • All lowercase or all capital letters
  • Use correct capitalization for sentences and proper nouns
  • Check for your use of articles, prepositions, and verb tenses
  • Check spelling

Some helpful ways to proofread are:

  • Read your email out loud
  • Have a friend or colleague review your email if you are not sure
  • You can always use a dictionary to help you

7. Always include your contact information at the end of your email

For a professional email, your email signature should include your full name and email address.
If appropriate, it is also a good idea to include your phone number and company website.

And that’s it!

If you follow these 7 simple rules, you can feel confident about your English emails! They will be clear, easy to read and professional.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What are your biggest problems or frustrations with writing emails in English? Or what has helped you the most when you send an email in English?

Share your comments and questions below. I’ll be sure to respond with help!

Happy emailing,

~ Annemarie

(P.S. Looking for more lessons on emails? Check out Avoid These Common Mistakes in Emails and Write Great Emails in English.)

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