How to Write an Email - A Brief Introduction
So, you think you know how to write an email? Well, there might be a few people out there who disagree. Email faux pas’ and outright mistakes are all too common, and they can have some pretty damaging consequences. In fact, while email is still the number one communications tool in the world, there’s plenty we get wrong on a daily basis, leaving our contacts confused, puzzled, or just straight up offended!
In today’s always-on world, we’re increasingly communicating through instant messengers and team chat apps, downgrading the art of email writing to an afterthought that probably isn’t getting the kind of attention it deserves. So, whether you’re a fresh-faced millennial who wants to learn how to write an email properly, or an old hat looking for a little refresher, our guide has everything you need.
What’s in an Email?
Learning how to write an email effectively is simple and can be boiled down into four key areas. These are:
The subject line of your email is all-important, and while they’re often forgotten or lackluster, they not only help the recipient understand what the body of your message contains, but they also ensure your email doesn’t end up in the spam folder.
It’s a good idea to write your subject line first, and then edit if you need to once you’ve completed your email. This way, if you impulsively hit the send button once you’ve finished writing your message, then at least you have something. Additionally, avoid sounding too spammy in your subject line and ensure only the most important information is presented, otherwise, your email may never get opened at all.
When asking how to start an email, it’s important to remember to include an opening greeting suitable for both the purpose of your message and the intended recipient. Formal emails, such as for a job application or sales email, require a formal greeting. When considering personal emails or those between close colleagues, it’s usually fine to use a more casual greeting.
For long email threads that include multiple people within your company, it’s also fine to skip the greeting entirely. This type of collaborative message chain benefits from succinct communication that drops the formality, ensuring information can be shared quickly and efficiently.
Naturally, the body of your message is the most important element when thinking about how to write an email, and you need to ensure that it has a clear purpose and the information you include is to the point. Always state what your email is about early in your message, and layout your information so it is easily accessible when skim reading.
Use bullet points and bold fonts where necessary, but avoid colors, font changes, and things like GIFS and emojis whenever writing formal emails. Keep it short and ensure to always include a Call to Action (CTA) at the end—that way, your recipient knows exactly what you want and what they need to do by the end of your message.
Signing off your email correctly is just as important as starting it correctly, and ensuring you use the right kind of closing for your intended recipient will help you maintain professionalism. Tailor your closing on a per-message basis and, if you are unsure about how to sign off, always err on the side of formality.
How to Send an Email – Common Mistakes to Avoid
If you’re learning how to send an email, then it’s always useful to be aware of the most common mistakes. Identifying bad habits and email faux pas’ is part of good email composition. Here are a few things to look out for.
Forgetting Your Subject Line — We’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s worth stating again. Forgetting your subject line means there’s a good chance your email will either be ignored or end up in the spam folder. When learning how to write an email effectively, you should always start with your subject line.
Emailing the Wrong Person — Not checking your To, CC, and BCC fields is a recipe for disaster, and sending emails to the wrong people can have dire consequences in some cases. Always double check you have the right contact before hitting send.
Writing Too Much — Emails should always be as concise as possible, and long-winded texts are likely to put off your recipients and ensure that your information doesn’t hit home. Once you’ve written the body of your email, read through it once again and try to redact it as much as possible.
Being Too Casual — Formality in writing, whether you believe in it or not, is still extremely important in professional settings. For this reason, using the same kind of tone you would in your instant messaging apps can often be a bad idea. Always tailor your tone to your purpose and avoid being too casual when writing professional emails.
Not Proofreading — If you don’t proofread your emails before hitting send, then you’re opening yourself up to a whole world of trouble. Proofread the body of your email, check your recipients, and ensure you’ve attached the correct documents—you’ll save yourself a headache later down the line.
Mastering how to write an email is a crucial skill in the world of work, and the more you practice, the easier it will become.
💡 For more tips and tricks on email writing, check out Spike’s resources section. Alternatively, for topics on everything from team productivity to balancing your personal and professional life effectively, check out the Spike blog today.