Writing business emails
The email has revolutionized the way we work. It allows us to communicate quickly and cheaply with suppliers, colleagues, and other people around the globe. It is now the main communication tool for many of us during our workday. What are the best ways to write emails?
What are the rules for writing emails that differ from those we already know?
Emails are written communications and serve a purpose: to communicate information. We will not be able to communicate our message if we ignore the rules of grammar, clear communication, and clear communication. It is crucial to follow the established guidelines. Emails are usually less formal than printed business letters.
It is not clear how to properly write emails. It is best to use ‘Dear’ as the first line and ‘Best wishes or ‘Regards’ at the end.
If you don’t know the person to whom you’re writing, ‘Hi’ doesn’t work well for business email addresses. If you don’t know the full name of the person, use their title (e.g. Dear Director of Customer Services).
Always consider the reader. People are unlikely to find you rude or too formal if your communication style is too casual.
Grammar and spelling
Emails should be written with the same care as formal letters.
Check your grammar and spelling regularly – many email programs have an automatic tool that you can use to check this. Sloppy communication can make a negative impression on both you and your organization.
Avoid the temptation to use ‘text messaging’ as a shortcut. Some people might understand the meaning of ‘cant W8 2 Cu’, but many others don’t.
Sending an email
- To – This is where you enter the email address of the person to whom you are writing.
- CC (courtesy Copy) – This is for other people who require the information contained in your email.
- BCC (blind copy of credit) – the addresses you enter in this field are hidden from all other recipients. This field would be used if you wanted to send an email to your insurer but for a solicitor to review it, without the insurers being aware.
Use the correct field to let people know who will be using the information first.
Below are two examples of emails. This first example shows you all the bad aspects of a poor business email. The second template is a good example of what you can do when creating your business email.
How to not write a business email
Do not do it, no matter what you do
This opening is too informal and impersonal. If you don’t know who the recipient is, use ‘To whom this may concern’ or “Dear Sir/Madam”.
If you know the name of your recipient, please use it. You don’t want to appear ignorant if you say ‘Dear Name’. You’re supposed to establish a professional relationship.
The opening paragraph is casual, informal, and unprofessional. Importantly, the opening paragraph doesn’t thank you for replying to the initial email.
The second paragraph makes a poor attempt to add a personal touch. It doesn’t matter if you are professional, polite, and courteous. It’s an email and not a letter, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop the standards or give the wrong impression.
The third paragraph is too casual and indecisive. It leaves too many questions unanswered and suggests that someone is easily pleased and not too bothered. Emoticons are a no-no.
If you have a good relationship with the recipient, it is better to avoid yelling “Cheers!” Even then, it is not ideal for business.
Always end your message with at least your full name and a sign-off. This is too casual and what you would expect to see in text messages. It’s easy to fall into bad habits. Write as though you were a managing director.
How to create a business email
It is far better to follow this example…
Important points to keep in mind
- Be concise. Keep in mind that people read hundreds of emails each day. Keep your message to no more than five paragraphs. Consider attaching your message as an attachment if it is too long, such as notes on a report.
- Don’t use an inappropriate email address from which to send your email (such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’). You can set up a business email account using either your name or the name of your company.
- Your subject line should clearly identify your email. This will allow the reader to easily refer to it later. Keep your titles brief.
- Instead of using HTML for formatting, use ‘plain-text.’ This will create web-page-style emails. This will ensure that your email is seen by everyone who opens it. Keep in mind, not everyone has a computer and some people might only be able to display text.
- Bulleted lists are a good idea. Keep paragraphs to a minimum. When you’re writing to someone new, format your email like a letter. There should be a beginning, middle, and end.
- Use block capitals sparingly. These capitals give the impression that you are shouting at your reader.
- In formal emails, do not use “emoticons” (combinations containing letters that represent emotions).
You could use this example to show your emotions:::( (happy) or:-:( (sad).
- Avoid using slang, slang, or over-familiar words – such as LOL (laugh out loud), or BTW (bye by the way).
- Avoid being sloppy in grammar and ignore formatting. Although it may seem faster to use capital letters in your email, it will not look professional to the reader.
- Sending documents or pictures with an email should be kept to a manageable file size (less than 5MB). Large files can pose problems for the recipient. You should inform the recipient that an attachment has been sent.
- To show that you care about the email, reply as quickly as possible.
- Avoid sending unneeded replies (Thanks! They can be a waste of time and clog up email systems.
Many companies insist that all outgoing emails contain an email “disclaimer”. Although legally binding, these disclaimers can be ambiguous. They are best used to inform the reader that email contents are confidential. You are responsible for writing a disclaimer in your company or department. Make sure it is concise and easily distinguishable from the rest.
Remember that a disclaimer does not necessarily mean you aren’t liable for any defamatory comments you make in an email.
Signatures should be kept brief, just like disclaimers. If necessary, include your name, company address, contact details, and a company registration #. When writing business emails, avoid including slogans or links to websites that are not relevant to the content. It can look pretentious and may not convey the right image for your company.