Professional Email Etiquette – 9 Do’s and Don’ts with Examples!

Learning how to write a professional email is highly important for anyone heading to college or starting their first job. However, even seasoned pros could do with a refresher from time to time and rereading the ins and outs of email writing is a good way to ensure you’re at the top of your game. So, whether you’re a fresh-faced Gen Z‘r who wants to learn professional email etiquette, or an old hat looking for a little refresher, our guide has everything you need.

 

Professional Email Etiquette – Things to Think About

When creating professional emails, there are a few things to think about before you dive in. Keep these bullet points handy to guide you as you write.

 

  • Use a professional email address – Your company email or an email you have created for professional reasons.
  • Think about the purpose of your email – Your message should be direct and to the point, clearly stating your purpose.
  • Identify your audience – Think about who you are writing to so you can ascertain the kind of tone (formal/informal) and the type of information you will need to include.
  • Be concise – Ensure your email contains all the information you need to share but that it doesn’t run on and on.
  • Use a standard font – Professional emails should avoid the use of ornate or playful fonts as some email programs won’t support them. Additionally, do not overuse capitals, bold, or italics.
  • Proofread – Always proofread your messages before hitting send. Review for spelling and grammar, double-check that the correct information is included, and make sure any attachments are correct.

 

Professional Email Etiquette – Formatting

 

 

Professional Email Subject Lines

The subject line of a professional email should contain all the information the recipient needs to identify the purpose of your email. It should be succinct but also personalized so that it can be easily distinguished from spam.

 

 

Starting a Professional Email

When thinking about professional email etiquette, there’s no need to stick to formal openings and, depending on who you are writing to and why, you can afford to be a little more familiar. However, for people you are contacting for the first time, sticking with the formal option is usually the best idea.

 

Greeting


When to Use


Dear Jane,


When you are familiar with the recipient and you know their name.


Hi Team,


If you need to send a group email to your team or project members.


Dear Client/s


If you need to send information to a client or multiple clients. However, wherever possible, you should use the client’s name.


Dear (Dr./Professor/President) (surname)


When writing to someone with an official title.


 

Writing the Body of Your Professional Email

The body of any professional email should be concise and contain all the information you want to share laid out logically. The difference between a professional email and a formal email is that, very often, you can leave out many conventional formalities and get straight to the point.

 

  • Introduction – If you are writing a professional email, your introduction should be concise and contain a snapshot of the information contained within the email.
  • Language – Professional email etiquette may use either formal or casual language depending on who you are writing to. However, remaining polite and clear should be your priorities.
  • Formatting – Following professional email etiquette means that your message should be formatted as clearly as possible. Use short paragraphs that are clearly delineated. If required, bullet points are a useful tool to concisely put across important points.

 

 

Ending a Professional Email

When ending a professional email, you should include a closing statement, a professional closing, and your signature. These three elements combined ensure that your message is polite and professional while providing the recipient with further contact details and your position.

 

  • Call to Action – A professional email should contain a call to action. Perhaps you need a prompt reply, further information, or any other guidance on how the recipient can help.
  • Formal Closing – A professional email needs a professional closing. Make sure you tailor your closing to the tone of your email and ensure you remain polite.
  • Signature – Create a signature that contains your full name and the company or organization you belong to. You can also add other information such as your title, and contact details.

 

 

Sending a Professional Email

Once you have refined each of the above elements and crafted the perfect formal email for your purpose, it’s time to hit the send button. However, before you do, there’s a few things to remember:

 

  • Check Email Addresses – Always check the email addresses you have entered and that you are sending your email from the correct address if you use multiple email addresses. This is particularly important for professional emails as making a mistake could have legal consequences.
  • Check Your Text – Another important point to remember before you hit send is to proofread your emails. Check for spelling, grammar, and clarity and edit your professional email to ensure it is correct.
  • Double Check Attachments & Links – Make sure your attachments and links are working and that you have attached or linked to the correct source.

 

Formal Email Formatting

When writing a formal email, professional email etiquette is important, giving you the tools to send a message that is both polite and respectful, without being overly familiar. It differs from casual, everyday emails and messages in that it follows a defined structure and requires a different type of language. Formal emails get directly to the point while presenting important information or requests in a clearly laid out manner. When learning how to write a formal email, it’s important to remember that the recipient should be able to easily identify the core points of your message so that they can be addressed in a reply.

 

 

Formal Email Subject Lines

The subject line of a formal email is similar to that of a professional email. Make sure you include the information the recipient needs to identify the reason for your email. Keep it short and snappy and personalize it so that it doesn’t end up in the spam folder.

 

 

Starting a Formal Email

Once you have composed your subject line, you need to think about a suitable greeting. These will change depending on who you are writing to and why. Below we have listed some of the most common greetings and when you should use them.

 

Greeting


When to Use


Dear Sir/Madam,


When you know the recipient’s name


To Whom it May Concern,


When writing to an organization/company


Dear Mr./Ms. (surname),


When you know the recipient’s surname


Dear (Dr./Professor/President) (surname),


When writing to someone with a recognized title


 

Writing the Body of Your Formal Email

Perhaps the most important point to remember when writing formal emails is that the body of your message must remain clear and precise. The reason for writing formal emails is often to either request or share important information, so it is crucial that you avoid long and complicated sentences. In addition to his fundamental rule, here are a few other points to focus on when considering how to compose a formal email:

 

  • Introduction – Whenever you are writing to someone for the first time, you should always introduce yourself. In the introduction, you should state your name, your affiliations (such as company or school), and the reason for your message.
  • Language – When writing a formal email, the language used should also be formal. Avoid colloquial language, slang, popular acronyms (TYL, IRL, etc.) and always remain polite.
  • Formatting – A formal email should be formatted as clearly as possible. Use short paragraphs that are clearly delineated. If required, bullet points are a useful tool to concisely put across important points.

 

 

Ending a Formal Email

Ending a formal email in the correct way is equally as important as the rest of the message. Your ending should consist of the following three elements.

 

  • Call to Action – The final line after the body of your text should tell the recipient what to do next. This might be a polite request for a prompt reply, a link to more information such as your portfolio, or any other guidance on how the recipient can help.
  • Formal Closing – A formal email requires a formal closing. You can read more about the correct type of closing to use in our guide on how to end an email.
  • Signature – If you have a signature, you should use it. Your signature should contain your full name, the company or organization you belong to, your title, and contact information such as email and phone number.

 

 

Sending a Formal Email

Once you have refined each of the above elements and crafted the perfect formal email for your purpose, it’s time to hit the send button. However, before you do, there’s a few things to remember:

 

  • Check Email Addresses – This goes for both your email address and the recipient’s. Firstly, if you have multiple email addresses, ensure you use the most professional one. This usually means using a company or school email address in place of your personal address. Secondly, double-check the recipient’s email address—all that hard work composing your mail is wasted if it ends up in the wrong inbox.
  • Proofread – Proofreading your emails is an important skill to have, and formal emails should be proofed with the utmost care. Check for spelling, grammar, and clarity. Edit as necessary.
  • Double Check Attachments & Links – If you have included attachments you should check that they are clearly named. Any links should be checked to ensure they work.

 

Writing a Professional Email – Dos and Don’ts

Dos


Don’ts


Use a suitable salutation. This can be formal or informal depending on who you are contacting.


Be too formal or casual. Business emails depend on building trust and developing relationships. Take each email as it comes.


Work on your subject lines. They should be short and contain all the relevant information the recipient needs to scan the message contents without necessarily opening the email.


Forget to write a subject line. It’s a good idea to write it first so you remember, otherwise your professional email might be sent to the spam folder.


Be friendly and open in your email while also ensuring all the information is presented in an easy-to-read format.


Use sarcasm and be careful with humor. These types of constructs can easily be misinterpreted without context.


Use bullets and other formatting options to make your email easier to digest.


Overload your professional emails with colorful text, emojis, or GIFs.


End you email politely with a call to action so the recipient knows how to respond.


Be demanding or impatient. Allow your recipient to reply in their own time.


Reply within 24 hours wherever possible. This timeframe is an unwritten rule within the business world.


Feel the need to reply instantly, sometimes it’s better to take some time to process the information before you reply.


Use email encryption for the most sensitive information. Email alone is not always the most secure way to send private messages.


Assume that emails are always private. Numerous issues can cause other people to receive sensitive information by mistake.


Use the forward email function to include previous information when contacting people not in the original thread.


Use the forward email function simply to pass on a job or task to another colleague without any supporting context.


Use CC and BCC correctly and ensure you are aware of data protection laws and other potential legal issues.


Use the reply all function all the time. This can annoy colleagues and clients.


Professional Email Examples

There are many ways to compose a professional email, however, here we’ve included a few examples that you can use to get started.

 

 

Professional Email Example for a Job

 

Professional Email Examples for Your Team

 

Professional Email Example in Response

 

Professional Email Example to a Professor/Teacher

How to Write an Professional Email to a Professor

 

Professional Email Examples for a Marketing Email

 

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Professional Email - FAQ's

Once you have the basics down, you can easily write a professional email for any purpose. Make sure you are polite and friendly while also ensuring you layout all of the information you want to convey clearly. Additionally, make sure you have an informative subject line and that you sign-off in a formal way with your signature.

Professional email etiquette is useful in any business or educational setting, and you should be using professional email skills to write to colleagues, clients, customers, and peers.

While there’s no single font that is the best for a professional email, you should use something simple and legible so that your message is easy to read. Additionally, it’s worth noting that many email programs don’t support multiple fonts, so you should stick to a common font so that your email is displayed how it was written.

If you are writing a professional email to a group of people, then the same rules apply as if you are writing to a single person. However, it is important to understand the difference between CC and BCC so that you can ensure etiquette and privacy are maintained.

A professional email address should be concise and will usually be tied to your company or organization. It should also include your name so that people know who they are messaging and how to contact you.

An email signature is a good way to include further information and sign-off your email professionally. It should include your name, your company or organization name, possibly a logo, and further contact information such as alternative emails or phone numbers.