#258: Write Professional Emails in English | Step-by-Step

by | Nov 23, 2022 | 10 comments

How much time have you spent sitting at your desk worried about clicking the send button on an email?

  • Is your email clear?
  • Is the grammar correct?
  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is it professional and polite?

Perhaps you used a quick translation tool but you’re still not sure.

For stress-free, worry-free professional emails in English, I have 7 tips and sentence starters you can start using immediately.

Write a Professional Email in English | Step-by-Step

How is a professional email different? 

Before we get to the first tip for easy-to-write emails in English, let’s talk about what a professional email in English should be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Polite
  • Productive

In other words, your professional emails should be easy to read and they should get the job done whether it’s to inform, request, propose, and so on.

Unlike emails to friends and family, there are specific standards for a professional email in English when writing to

  • 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 
  • a Human Resources Manager about a new job opportunity in an English-speaking company
  • an employer about a job interview

 

Why is this so important?

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

With a professional email style, you will communicate with others effectively. 

Ultimate Guide for Professional Email and Telephone English — Learn More

Tip1: Use a simple, specific subject line

The subject line is the first thing your reader will see. 

To increase the likelihood of someone opening your email, use a succinct, tailored subject line that captures attention.

Here’s an example of what not to use (and what to do instead):

  • Meeting request
  • Meet Monday about schedule change? ✅

Here are a few more good examples:

  • Suggestion for your presentation 
  • Answer to your questions about pricing plans
  • 2 ideas to solve budget issue
  • Update on software bug
  • New user stats now available

Each one says exactly what is in the email so your reader knows what to expect.

Tip 2: Use greetings – always 

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

An email without a greeting can appear rude and too familiar.

The greetings below are common and appropriate for professional emails. 

We use these greetings for emails in the workplace, with people we do not know very well, with people who provide services or when we are requesting information.

If writing to a friend, family member, or colleague you know well, you can, of course, be much more informal.

Hello [first name] or [title + last name],

In the United States, it is very common to use first names, especially in emails. So feel free to write: Hello Annemarie // Hello Ms. Fowler // Hello Mr. Williams in your emails.

Dear [first name or title + last name],

This is a more formal and the most polite option. Examples:

  • Dear Laura
  • Dear Dr. Sloan
  • Dear Ms. Williams

Hi [first name],

This is the most informal and should be used with close colleagues or someone you know well.

To whom it may concern, // Dear [job title],

For example, Dear Hiring Manager,

This can be used when you do not know who will receive your email. For example, perhaps you are writing to a company for the first time to request information. Or you are writing to make a complaint. 

However, it is always better for you to find the correct person to contact and use his/her name.

Tip 3: Follow K.I.S.S. in your email body

Keep It Short and Simple!

No one wants to spend 10 minutes reading an email.

Long, complex sentences and paragraphs are a sure way to lose your reader.

To keep it short and simple, follow these recommendations:

  • Use short sentences.
  • Use simple grammar structures.
  • Use short words if you can.
  • Avoid long paragraphs.
  • Use bullet points for important details or lists.

If you’ve ever worried about your grammar or vocabulary in an email, the best thing you can do is keep it simple.

Not only will this help to avoid potential grammar/vocabulary mistakes but it also makes it easier for your reader to review and understand emails quickly. 

 

Here’s an example of what not to do and what to do instead:

Dear Sara, 

I am writing with recommendations on how to best write emails in English and I want to share several with you including a clear subject line, the importance of starting with a professional greeting, making the purpose of your email clear. Before clicking the send button, you’ll also want to be sure you’ve included a closing and double check your grammar. 

 

✅ Dear Sara, 

I have some recommendations on how to best write emails in English.

These include:

  • A clear subject line
  • A professional greeting
  • A statement of purpose or request
  • A polite closing

Lastly, it’s important to proofread before you click send.

Tip 4: Make your purpose or request clear

After opening your email, your reader will immediately begin to scan for important details. This includes your reason for writing the email and/or the request you’re making.

Use these common sentence starters to make your intent clear.

 

Introduce Yourself to Someone in an Email

If you are writing to someone for the very first time, it’s important to tell them how you received their email address. This person will be more likely to read your email and respond to you.

Example 1: My name is [name]. 

I received your contact information from [insert name of the person who gave you the email address]. I am writing to request/to inquire…

Example 2: My name is [name]. 

I noted your contact information on your company’s website. I am writing in reference to…

 

State Your Purpose

We use these when we are writing to someone for the first time or when we haven’t written in a long time. It is important to help the other person remember who you are, if possible.

  • I’m writing in response to the email you sent on [date]…
  • I’m writing in response to your voicemail from [date]…
  • I’d like to respond to your request/inquiry/complaint about…
  • I’m writing in reference to your request/inquiry/complaint…
  • I have a follow-up question for you.
  • I’d like to request a quote/more information about…

 

Thank Someone

  • Thank you for the information you provided.
  • Thank you for responding to my request/inquiry/complaint so quickly.
  • Thank you for your prompt reply.
  • Thank you for contacting us.
  • Thank you for your time and attention.
  • Thank you for your time.

 

Final Remarks/Call to Action

When you are ready to finish your email, state your specific request for action and/or finish with a polite, professional comment.

  • I look forward to receiving your reply. 
  • I look forward to learning more about…
  • Please let me know if that time works for you.
  • Please let me know when would be a good time to call.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tip 5: 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.

 

Formal

Common, professional closings include:

  • Best regards,
  • Warm regards,
  • Regards,

 

Informal

For more casual, informal closings (with people you know), you can use:

  • Best wishes,
  • All the best,
  • Take care,

Tip 6: Review for clarity and accuracy

Before you click send, read your email aloud. 

This is an effective way to catch errors and to be confident that you’ve included all the necessary information.

It is also helpful to determine if there are unnecessary details that can be removed for clarity and concision.

While checking your email, here are some issues to check for and correct if there are errors:

  • Use correct capitalization for sentences and proper nouns
  • Review punctuation
  • Check spelling

If you’re not sure about your own editing and proofreading skills, use tools such as Grammarly to automatically check your email for any mistakes.

(Note: Speak Confident English is not a sponsor for Grammarly. However, our team uses this tool and can recommend it.)

 

Tip 7: Include your signature

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.

As you know, 99% of my Confident English lessons focus on speaking but email communication is an essential skill. And I know how stressful it can be to write confidently in English.

If you found this lesson helpful to you, tell me how. I’d love to know what was most useful to you.

And if you have continued questions, let me know. My best lessons are the ones that answer your questions.

The best place to share is in the comments below.

~ Annemarie

 

P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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