Professionals deal with emails every day: Replying to clients, announcing company news, asking our colleagues for help, reaching out to new partners… Some emails are effective while others only create extra noise and end up in the Trash folder. Crafting clear and professional emails that people actually read and act on is an essential skill in the business world.
In this article, you’ll learn how to write business emails, what is the professional email format, and which advanced techniques can make emailing more pleasant and productive.
How to prepare before writing a professional email
Before drafting your message, take a moment to ask yourself these questions.
What is the goal of my email?
Every email you write should have a purpose. You may want to ask for help, offer a partnership, announce the important news, etc.
Sometimes you may have a couple of goals in mind. For example, you need the same person to discuss the structure of your future website and brainstorm some content ideas. There’s too much information for a single message! In this situation, it’s better to write two separate emails, making it easier for the recipient to answer. Devote every email to only one thing, and you’re more likely to get a fast reply.
When you’re not sure why are you writing an email, don’t send it.
If a person thinks “So what?” after reading your email, it probably has no clear goal. You’ve just wasted your time and your recipient’s and made someone’s inbox even more cluttered.
Who is my audience?
Once you know your goal, define the best person to send an email to. Who is responsible for the thing you’re asking for? Finding the appropriate recipient before sending an email greatly increases your chances to get a reply.
What is your relationship with this person? Answering this question helps you define the tone and content of your email. For cold emails, you’ll need to tell more about yourself or your company while this unnecessary when you’re emailing a colleague.
Is sending an email appropriate?
Email is just one of the many channels of communication, and it’s not universal. For example, emails don’t imply an immediate reply. If there’s something urgent, it’s better to ping a person in a messenger or just call them.
Email isn’t the best place for delivering bad news or starting a conflict. It’s always a bad idea to send emails while you’re upset or angry. If you need to say unpleasant things to someone, do it in person.
How to write a professional email: Key components
Once you have a goal and audience in mind, start writing! It’s important to stick to the professional email format. Here’s what to include in a business email.
1. Subject line
This is the first thing a person sees in your email, and it usually defines if they actually open your message. A good subject line tells a recipient what the email is about and why they should read it.
❌ Don’t: Announcement
✅ Do: Meet the new Chief Operating Officer
❌ Don’t: To review
✅ Do: Contract with a Designer: Please Review till Friday
❌ Don’t: Conference invitation
✅ Do: We invite you to speak at Zombie Apocalypse Conference
At the beginning of your email, greet a person by name and use proper salutations like “Hi” or “Hello.” It’s better to omit “Hey” and “Yo” in a professional email. Check the best email greetings to use and the ones to avoid.
3. Email body
While crafting the email body, your goal is to make it easy for a person to read, understand, and answer your email.
Value the reader’s time. There’s no need for long formalities where you’re asking a recipient how they’re doing and what they've been up to. Greetings should be brief and to the minimum. This is especially true when you’re emailing super busy people. If you must introduce yourself, keep it short and simple and then go straight to the point.
Write what are you expecting from the recipient and include the additional information they need to know. At the same time, don’t overload your email with numerous details and keep it concise.
Make the email easy to read. An unformatted wall of text discourages everyone from reading it. Break your email into paragraphs, include headings and take advantage of numbered and bulleted lists. Fortunately, modern email clients offer plenty of text formatting options. Just make sure the fonts and colors you choose are readable and don’t distract a person from the email itself.
4. Call to action
At the end of your email, make it clear what do you want the reader to do. Don’t expect they’ll just guess it. The more specific your call to action is, the better.
❌ Don’t: Please take a look.
✅ Do: Please review the contract till Friday, June 14.
❌ Don’t: Let me know what you think!
✅ Do: If you’d like to attend our conference, please complete this form [link] till the next Monday.
5. Closing and sign off
Depending on the level of formality, end the email with polite phrases like “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” or “Best” and sign off with your name and contact details. Learn more about how to create a beautiful and professional email signature.
Professional email examples
This email to a colleague is short and sweet. It goes straight to the point and has a clear call to action with a deadline. Juli can read and comprehend it in just a few seconds!
Though this is a cold email, there’s no lengthy greeting or introduction; the most important information contains in the first sentence. Then, Sarah explains to Tom why he’s invited to the conference, what the event is about, and how he would benefit as a speaker. The email formatting and structure make it easy to skim a message and quickly find the needed details.
What to check before sending an email
When you’re finished with composing, don’t rush to press “Send.” Proofread your email carefully to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.
- Double-check the recipient’s name. They can forgive you a typo somewhere in the email body but definitely not in their name!
- Check the email address. Make sure you’re writing to the right person. If you have multiple email accounts, also check if you’re emailing from the needed address.
- Make sure you have the subject line. It should tell the recipient what to expect from your email.
- Put yourself in the reader's shoes. Reread your email as if it was sent to you. Is it easy to read? Can you understand who’s contacting you, what’s it about, and what do they expect from you? Are there any phrases that sound rude or ambiguous?
- Check grammar and spelling. Don’t let typos and errors ruin the whole impression.
- Don’t forget to attach files. If you’re sending someone a document, make sure the recipient actually receives it.
Advanced business email tips
You’ve learned how to write a formal email, but there is a couple of hacks that will make you feel more comfortable while sending emails, save you time and sometimes even reputation.
1. Undo sending
Have you ever realized a terrible mistake you’ve made after hitting “Send”? You still can prevent disaster. Our email client Spark lets you cancel the email sending within the next 5 seconds. On your Mac, just press Cmd ⌘ + Z. On iOS or Android, tap Undo at the bottom of the screen. The undo feature works with emails from all major providers: Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, Yahoo, Exchange, and others.
2. Email scheduling
Timing is crucial for business emails, especially when you’re communicating with people from different time zones. Spark lets you schedule emails to be sent later so you can draft a message whenever you want and make sure the recipient gets it when they’re most likely to reply.
3. Follow up reminders
Email doesn’t require an immediate reply, and a recipient usually has a couple of business days to get back to you. Anyway, you don’t want your message to end up in limbo. Set a follow up reminder in Spark, and the app notifies you if you haven’t received a reply after the due date. This way, you don’t have to keep track of all your sent emails. Spark does it for you.
Writing business emails isn’t as tricky as it seems. Just have your goal in mind, value the reader’s time, follow the professional email format, and deliver your message in the most concise way. We hope our tips on how to write a professional email will help you communicate effectively and achieve your business goals.
If you’d like to get email superpowers, like undo sending and email scheduling, download Spark for free and become better in email!