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Professional emailing: how to write the perfect business email

person accessing emails on laptop during meeting
(Image credit: Image Credit: Raw Pixel / Pixabay)

Do you want to look more professional emailing the people you work with, and enhance your workplace productivity? One simple step you can take is to upgrade your emailing skills. A polished email can instantly create a good impression and help you establish a better rapport with recipients, with  the best email providers offering the inbox functions needed to ensure you hit the right notes.

In this article, we’ll provide you all the steps you need to follow. We’ll go over the structure of the email, what to do in each section, and what formatting to follow.

person at desk typing on laptop (view from above)

A professional email will help you communicate effectively (Image credit: Unsplash)

1: Preparation

Before beginning your email, you need to understand what the intent of your email is, who your audience is, and what tone is appropriate for that audience.

If the recipient is your colleague, then the tone could be slightly informal. But with your supervisor or client you may need a more formal tone. 

An email should ideally have a single intent so that it’s easier for the recipient to understand and process it. This will ensure they have greater clarity on what you're asking for, improving workplace productivity. If you have to include multiple components, it’s best to present them in a numbered list format. 

An email can have three types of recipients: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The primary recipients are marked in the “To” field, the secondary in the “CC” field, and the tertiary in the “BCC” field. 

The primary recipients (To) are required to take action or respond to the email directly. The secondary recipients (CC) don’t have to do the same, but they’re included in the conversation for added clarity or as a general update. The tertiary recipients (BCC) are those who only need to view the first email and not the entire thread of conversation. BCC should also be used when emailing a large group of individuals, so that recipients don’t have to scroll through the entire list of addresses.

a mockup of a new email message

An email has different types of recipients (Image credit: Google)

2: Subject

The subject line is the first thing your recipient will read, and it’s essential you compose it well. It needs to give the recipient an idea of what’s to follow, but don’t compromise on clarity by making it too brief or lengthy. A sentence of three to seven words will be crisp and easy to read.  

Vague subject lines like “Hi” or “Important” might result in the email not being opened. Instead, go for a precise subject line that gives an apt overview of the email, like “Client List: Please Confirm by EOD.” 

3: Greeting

A professional email must always open with a greeting addressing the recipient’s name, like “Hello Rishi” or “Dear Rishi.” If you share a more formal relationship with the recipient, then you use their surname - for example, “Hello Ms. Williams.” If you don’t know the name of the recipient, then you could use, “Hello,” “Dear Madam/Sir,” or “To whom it may concern,” although the third is considered outdated now. 

It’s best to drop the greeting when you’re conversing on an email chain. This gives the conversation a more natural feeling. 

4: Pleasantries

Beginning your email with a line of thanks or a warm wish will make you seem polite and set a positive tone. If someone has replied to your email, then you could start with: “Thanks for your prompt reply.” If you’re emailing the recipient for the first time, you could mention something that connects you to them, like: “It was lovely meeting you at the ABC Expo yesterday.” 

You can drop the pleasantries if you’ve recently or regularly been in communication with the recipient. Make sure to keep this limited to a single line, so that you get to the agenda of your email swiftly. When there’s no scope to use a pleasantry, you could state the purpose of your email directly, like: “I’m writing to check about…”

a screenshot of an email inbox, with the cursor set to click on the inbox

Different tones and forms of address are required when emailing different people (Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/kpatyhka)

5: Purpose/Body

This is the main section of your email and you must state your intent here. It needs to be concise and well articulated, so that there’s no possibility of misunderstanding. If the email’s too long, readers are likely to skim it, so it’s ideal to explain everything clearly in as few sentences as you can. 

6: Call to action

Even if you feel you’ve explained everything precisely, it’s possible for there to be some misunderstanding. To avoid this, include a call to action in the email. This states exactly what the recipient needs to do and the timeline for this task - for example, “Please confirm by 6 PM that the client will be making the payment today” or “Could you send in the invoices by 9 PM?”

If you’re emailing multiple people, then it’s best to mention their names and clarify the tasks assigned to each of them. This will cut out the confusion, improve communication, and boost productivity. 

7: Concluding remark

Although it’s not a requirement, a polite closing remark will help conclude your email well. You could thank the recipient for going through your email, thank them in advance for the task they’re going to do, or say that you look forward to hearing from them.

8: Sign-off

For signing off, you could choose a phrase like “Best regards,” “Kind regards,” “Sincerely,” or “Thank you.” However, closing comments such as “Cheers” or “Best wishes” are informal and should be avoided.

laptop and computer at desk

Choosing the right comment to sign off with is key in a professional situation (Image credit: Unsplash)

9: Signature

The signature must mention your name, title, and other relevant information in the context of the email. This will let the recipient know what your role is. For example:

Aayush Agarwal

Managing Director

ABC Pvt. Ltd. 

It’s best to avoid adding quotes in your signature as it may appear unprofessional. You can add images or logos, but ensure that the sizing is appropriate, and check how these appear on different devices. 

10: Review and format

Once the email is ready, take a few minutes to review it for spelling or grammatical mistakes. Simple typos can make you appear careless or cause miscommunication. You can use Grammarly, a popular editing tool, to check your emails.

Getting the formatting right will make you appear more professional and improve the email’s readability. You can do this by splitting it into tiny paragraphs and using a uniform font (and size). Whenever you mention multiple components, stick to bullet points. 

Avoid capitalizing a word or sentence since it implies shouting. Instead, you can use bold or italics to add emphasis. Lastly, attach hyperlinks to the email rather than adding URLs directly - the former looks more aesthetic and professional. 

Summary

Writing the perfect business email may seem complex at first, but with some practice your emails will look professional effortlessly - not to mention, excellent communication will massively boost your workplace productivity. Make sure to follow all the steps mentioned above to send out clear and professional emails.