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How to Write a Professional Email

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Email is one of the most important tools a small business owner has at their disposal, so knowing how to write effective professional emails is crucial. Whether you’re sending business emails to employees, customers, vendors or colleagues, writing clearly and professionally lets people know they can trust you. We’ll cover several ways to improve your business and professional emails in this post.

6 Tips for Writing Effective Business Emails

There’s no one-size-fits-all method for professional email. An in-office email directed at a supervisor will probably differ in tone from a customer service email, and a message to a creditor will be different from both. However there are still certain principles that apply to virtually any business email.

1. Use a Professional Email Address

If you’re an employee, you likely already have a professional email address through your company, probably formatted as [email protected] or something similar. But if you run your own business, you’ll need to get your own professional email address. Many professional email services will help you register a domain when you sign up. A domain name is the part of the email address that follows the “@” symbol. If you use an email address with a generic domain, like,, etc. for your business, your recipients may assume you’re operating at an amateur level, or even that your business is a scam.

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2. Know your subject (line)

Most inboxes get a lot of messages daily, meaning legitimate mail can easily be sent to the trash folder without consideration. To make sure your email is actually read, its subject line should grab the recipient’s attention and compel them to read more. Your subject should be clear, direct, and accurately represent the purpose of your email. Here are some examples of clear subject lines that set reader expectations:

  • “Revision Needed: Website Redesign Layout”
  • “Feedback – Market Expansion Strategy”
  • “Urgent: Contractor Invoice Past Due”
  • “FYI – Changes to Company Benefit Plan”

Notice how those examples are all roughly the same length? This is because it’s also important to keep your subject lines brief. Most email browsers cut off subject lines after a certain length, and you don’t want it to be snipped at a confusing or inappropriate place. It’s usually safest to keep subject lines under 40 or 50 characters long.

3.  Keep your email brief and to the point

Like your subject line, the content of your email should clear, focused, and easy to digest. Since most people don’t have a ton of time to read long emails, it’s best to keep your email short and to the point. For most professional emails, all you really need is the following:

  • A respectful greeting (such as “Dear NAME OF RECIPIENT,” “To NAME OF RECIPIENT:” or “To the COMPANY NAME’s RELEVANT DEPARTMENT:”).
  • The purpose of your email, often including a Call to Action request, such as “Please review your order below,” or “Please follow up with me at your earliest convenience.”
  • Any context the reader needs to fulfill your request. Try to avoid unnecessary tangents.
  • A polite closing message, such as “Warmest regards,” or the classic “Sincerely,” followed by your signature.

If it takes more than a few paragraphs to convey the point of your message, you’re likely trying to say too much for one email. However, if you simply must include a lot of information, a good compromise is to present additional content in attachments like text files or PDFs. This gives your recipient the option to get deeper into details at their leisure.

4. Include a signature

Your email should include a signature. At a minimum, your signature will include your name. But a professional email signature typically includes more:

  • Name: The name you use as a professional. It’s also increasingly standard to include the pronouns you use in parentheses after your name.
  • Position or Title: The job you hold at your business, such as “Managing Director,” “Marketing Communications Specialist” or “Owner-CEO.”
  • Company Name: The name of the business, usually its legal registered name, but some businesses operate under DBA names instead.
  • Contacts: The phone number or email address (or both) that you use professionally. You might also include links to your professional social media accounts or company website.
  • Mailing Address: If relevant, a business address where a recipient can send physical mail or visit.

Most email software now allows you to set your signature in advance, and even create multiple signatures on the same account.

5. Proofread your email

With your email all written, it’s time to hit “send,” right? Well, not so fast.

First, read over your email and check its grammar, punctuation and spelling. If necessary, also verify that the information you wrote is accurate. Checking your email before sending it is a smart habit to get into, if only to spare yourself the embarrassment of realizing an official email you sent contains noticeable errors.

6. Schedule your email

In many cases, time is of the essence, and an email needs to go out as soon as you’re done proofreading it. However, there are also cases when you might want to delay sending your email—such as if you’re writing ahead of a pending announcement, or just when composing email outside of normal business hours.

Most email software gives you the option of scheduling your message to be sent at a future date and time. You can use this option to ensure the email you’re writing to associates currently asleep on the other side of the world won’t arrive until they’re awake and and at work, or that a message to your employees doesn’t go out until the Friday after your company releases its quarterly financial report.

Do I always need to follow all these rules?

Depending on your company’s policies, you may need to follow a specific format for email, but otherwise you can vary your approach depending on who you’re writing to. You can typically use a more informal writing style with a friendly coworker than you’d use with your boss or an important client.

However, maintaining a consistent format does have its benefits. First of all, using a formal email style helps you convey a sense of professionalism. Additionally, if a recipient familiar with your usual emails receives a message from you that is different from your usual style, that discrepancy might alert them to suspicious activity like phishing or identity theft.

Want to learn more? Check out How to Write an Effective Marketing Email.

This entry was posted in Opinion.