Writing business emails — 5 essential parts of an email
| Vaidehi Bhashyam Mehta | @mehta_vaidehi
With the internet allowing for instant communication, letter-writing is becoming rarer by the day. Text messaging seems to be the preferred way of communicating. And with it has evolved a whole new language — txt msg english.
We write and read emails every day. While your personal emails to friends and family are casual and intimate, business or work-related emails are formal, or at best semi-formal. Despite being tech-savvy, most managers today still struggle to use the email efficiently as a means of communication, whilst others are blissfully unaware of where they are going wrong.
But, there’s no denying that email-writing is important and has become an essential means of daily communication and a record of dealings and transactions.
Here are the essential elements of an email and once you follow this structure, writing a good email becomes quite easy.
Yes, this is always an email address. Check to see if you have written it correctly.
If you intend to copy or Bcc: anyone else into the email, be sure to add those addresses in the appropriate place.
If you want your email or message to be read, your subject line should draw the reader’s attention. So start with a good subject line that will compel the recipient to open it.
- Keep it brief and specific
- Do not use ALL CAPS; it is the written equivalent of shouting.
- Ask yourself these questions:
Is it brief?
Keep your subject line short and sweet. Convey the gist of your message in as few words as possible.
Is the message clear?
When the recipient sees the subject line on his inbox, it should give him a clear idea of what your email is about. Please remember that, while the subject line should be brief, it should not be vague. If it is vague, it is very likely to be binned even before it is read.
Will it catch my reader’s attention?
The subject line for your email should grab your recipient’s eyeballs and urge him/her to open it. If it doesn’t, the matter is over even before it has begun.
Take a look at these subject lines and decide for yourself which appeal to you — the ones on the left or those on the right?
Your greeting or salutation depends on the kind of email you are writing.
- Is it formal or informal?
- Is it to a familiar or unfamiliar person?
- Do you know the name of the person you are writing to?
Even business emails are now written in a conversational style. Regardless, if it is the first email you are writing to a person or group, be cautious and do not begin every email you write with “Hey” or Hi, y’all”.
Depending on who you are addressing, how well you know the person and the nature of your message, here are some suggestions:
- Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms (Surname),
- Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms (First Name and Surname),
- Dear Client/Subscriber
- Dear Mr/Ms (Job Title)
- To Whomever This May Concern
- (First Name),
- Hello (name),
With practise, you are sure to devise your greeting to begin an email?
Follow these suggestions and, I assure you, your emails will be good:
Spend a few moments to plan your email and what you wish to convey.
Then, introduce the subject.
Be to-the-point and keep paragraphs to five to seven lines. Long paragraphs are tedious to read.
Write short sentences; there’s less chance of error. Make sure your email has a beginning and an end.
Standard abbreviations like FYI (for your information) and PFA (please find attached) are acceptable, but do consider who is the recipient of your email.
Look at what you have written. Is it too crowded. Are you repeating yourself? Does it look neat?
Add a line of thanks if you are asking for something, have received something, or expressing gratitude for some business:
“Thank you for your patience.”
“Thank you for your business.”
“I/We appreciate your assistance in this matter.”
- If your email contains information, you could end with:
“Do contact me if you have any questions”
“Should you require any clarifications, please do let me know and I will be happy to help you.”
- You could also end with:
“I look forward to hearing from you.”
A word of caution — again! Emails written in ALL CAPS are a definite no-no. It’s offensive. As mentioned earlier, that is like screaming at the person(s) you are addressing. You don’t need me to tell you what kind of reaction that will evoke.
Proofread your email carefully to check if you have written everything you wanted to. Correct spellings and grammar where necessary — there are tools like Grammarly that have made this so easy. Edit out all the unnecessary words.
Not every email carries an attachment, but if you have mentioned one or more in the body of your message, please be sure to add the file/image/link you have referenced.
This is the last part of your email and it’s important to make a good impression so all the hard work you put into writing your email is not wasted.
Set up your business email with your signature, designation and phone number, and your company’s address block, so your reader has all the information at a glance.
Here are some suggestions for signing off:
Have a good day.
See you soon!
Just follow the five steps above and you’ll find that writing a good business email is really quite simple.
Vaidehi Mehta is our Content Strategist, curating and writing content across multiple platforms. She is a teacher and trainer with degrees in Economics, English and Education. Having dealt with reams of content with varying levels and versions of English, she is currently a ‘grammar pacifist’, prone to the occasional sigh.