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Writing a formal email at work


Email is normally a pretty informal way of communicating these days, but there are often times when you have to write a formal email. This might be when applying for a new job, when communicating with your boss, or to communicate with a customer or another business. Remember that the format of a formal email is very similar to a formal letter. I’ll talk about each section individually and provide some phrases you might want to use where relevant.




Below is an example of a formal email:


Recipent:

The person you want to send it to. Obviously make sure the email address is correct!


Subject:

Make sure that the subject is clear and concise (short). You want the reader to understand very quickly what the contents of the email are. You don’t need to use full sentences in the subject line:

Invitation to Project Update Meeting on June 1st


There’s no need to use the indefinite article (an) at the beginning of the subject line. Think about using as few words as possible while still making sense!


Greeting:

If you know the person, use the following phrases:

Dear (first name, if you are on first name terms)

Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms*

*Ms: It’s most polite to use Ms because a woman’s marital status is her business. If you’re not sure, go with Ms!


If you don’t know the person very well (or at all), use these phrases:

Dear Sir/Madam (if you know the gender of the person)

To whom it may concern (if you don’t know who will respond)


Introduction

Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself briefly and tell the recipient the reason for the email.

Consider phrases like:

My name is (X), I am (state your role and company, if relevant).

I am writing in regard to (email subject, with an article this time)

I am writing in connection with (see above)

I am writing in relation to/in reference to …


If you are writing to provide information to the recipient, think about using these sentences:

I am writing to let you know that..

I am delighted to tell you that (if it’s good news)

I regret to inform you that (if it’s bad news)


If you are responding to an email that you’ve received already, how about these phrases:

I am writing in response to (original email)

I am writing in reply to

I am writing to thank you for (if thanks are needed)


Body of the text

The contents of the next paragraph almost completely on the context, so there’s not a lot of advice I can give here, but think about explaining the situation in short, clear sentences. Avoid contractions like I’m and it’s, acronyms like asap, and any other informal expressions. You can end the last paragraph with phrases like:

I look forward to hearing from you soon

Thank you in advance

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me

Please let me know if you have any questions

Thank you for your attention


Conclusion

How you end the email depends on how you started it.

Best regards/Kind regards/Regards (if you know are on first name terms with the person)

Yours sincerely (if you used Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms)

Yours faithfully (if you used Dear Sir/Madam or to whom it may concern)


That’s all I have for you, really. But remember there are loads of examples online: just Google “formal email examples” if you need some more ideas.


Good luck!

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