We all write all sorts of emails at work: Announcing company news, requesting information, replying to clients, following up on meetings, and more. If you feel uneasy about crafting such messages, we’re here to help!
In this article, you’ll learn how to write a formal email, what is a formal email format, and how to make sure your message is clear and professional. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a couple of formal email examples for different occasions. Feel free to use them for reference!
Emailing is all about context so before drafting your message, take a moment to think about your relationship with a recipient. Is it your boss, colleague, potential partner? This will help you define the appropriate level of formality for your email. If you’re in doubt, it’s safer to stick to a more formal version.
Formal email format: What to include in your email
Writing a business email is far easier when you know how to structure it. Here are the key components your message should contain.
1. Subject line
This is the crucial part of your email which defines if a person actually opens it. A good subject line informs a recipient what the email is about and why they should read it. Try to make your subject line clear, specific, and to the point. For example:
Marketing Budget Q4: Please review till August, 31
Meet the new VP of Engineering
Spark for Android: First impressions from our users
Requesting a vacation for Aug, 10-20
2. Email greeting
How to start a formal email? At the beginning of your email, greet a person by name. Depending on the level of formality, your salutations may vary from a simple “Hi” to an official “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./Professor…” For the most formal occasions, use a colon instead of a comma after the salutation. For example, “Dear Ms. Smith:”
Here are some email greeting examples:
Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./Professor [Last name],
Always do your best to find out the recipient’s name to address them in your email. If your research wasn’t successful, use a generic salutation like “Greetings.”
If you need more help with picking a proper salutation, check the best email greetings and the ones to avoid.
3. Email body
Now, it’s time to craft the main part of your email. Here’s how to do it:
- Always devote one email to one topic. For example, you may need your colleague to review your quarterly report and discuss the hiring strategy for your department. This is too much information for a single email! It’s better to send two separate messages on each subject, making it easy for a person to answer. This way, you’re more likely to get a fast reply.
- Explain what you’re writing about. If you’re emailing a stranger, briefly introduce yourself and then go straight to the point. State the purpose of your email clearly so a person can understand why you’re emailing them and how they can help. For example:
I would like to invite you to speak at our annual developer conference.
I’m running a YouTube blog about cats, and we’d love to feature your brand in our next video.
I’ve been using your service for a while, and I would like to report an issue I’ve recently encountered.
- Value the reader’s time. Provide a recipient with any additional information they need to reply. At the same time, try to keep your email short and simple and don’t overload it with extra details. Remember that email isn’t the best place for a lengthy discussion.
- Make your email easy to read. Break your message into paragraphs and take advantage of headings and lists. Where it’s appropriate, emphasize the key information with bold or italics, just don’t overdo it. Your goal is to make your email as structured and easy to skim as possible.
4. Formal email closing
The formal email closing tells a recipient what’s next. If you want them to do something, include a clear and specific call to action. If you’re just wrapping up the discussion you’ve previously had, end your email on a friendly note to show a reader you’re willing to keep in touch with them.
Here’s how to end a formal email:
Please let me know by Friday, August 15th if you’d like to speak at the conference.
It would be great to jump into a quick call tomorrow to discuss our collaboration.
Thank you for help and feedback. Let’s keep in touch!
Here are the polite phrases you can use to sign off your email:
Next, put in your name and contact details. If you’re writing on behalf of a company or organization, include this information in your signature as well. Learn more about creating a professional email signature.
Your email checklist before sending
Once you’ve crafted your email, there is a couple of things left to check:
- Make sure your email address is appropriate. If you’re writing from a personal email, your address should look like that: email@example.com. If you're emailing on behalf of a company, use your corporate email. Your old firstname.lastname@example.org email isn’t appropriate for business correspondence, unless you’re running a sauna supply store. Learn more about creating a professional email address.
- Double-check the recipient's name and email. Make sure you’re writing to the right person and spell their name correctly.
- Check grammar and spelling. Proofread your email carefully and avoid using emojis or informal abbreviations like BTW or ASAP. It’s better to leave them for your messages to friends.
- Stick to a professional font. Although many email clients let you change the font of your emails, use something conservative like Arial or Sans Serif. Avoid playing with different colors and using all caps.
- Don’t forget to attach files. If you’re sending someone a document, make sure to attach it. Name your file properly so a recipient can guess what’s inside (e.g., “Marketing Budget Q4.”)
Formal email examples
Once you’ve learned how to write a formal email, let’s take a look at the examples. Please note that these samples are for reference only, and we recommend you adjust them to match the tone and level of formality appropriate for a particular recipient and occasion.
Email example 1: Announcement
Subject: Meet the new Customer Support Representative
I am pleased to introduce you to [Name] who is starting today as a Customer Support Representative. She will be providing technical support and assistance to our users, making sure they enjoy the best experience with our products.
Feel free to greet [Name] in person and congratulate her with the new role!
Email example 2: Business follow up email
Subject: RE: [subject line of your previous email]
Following up on my previous email about the collaboration with your website. I’m still interested in writing a guest post about the best UX practices for dating apps. With 10 years of experience in the mobile industry, I have a lot of insights to share with your audience.
Please let me know if you’re interested in collaboration!
Email example 3: Request
Subject: Vacation request for September, 10-15
Dear Mr./Ms. [Last name],
I would like to request a vacation from Monday, September 9th till Friday, September 13th.
I will make sure to complete all my current projects and pending tasks in advance before the vacation. My colleagues [Name] and [Name] will cover my responsibilities during my absence.
Looking forward to your approval.
Email example 4: Question
Subject: Do you have student discounts for the Annual Coding Conference?
I would like to ask if you provide student discounts for tickets to the Annual Coding Conference.
I’m a full-time student at the University of Texas and I’m very excited about your event, but unfortunately, the ticket price is too high for me. I would appreciate if you could offer me an educational discount.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Email example 5: Complaint
Subject: Complaint regarding the quality of the headphones
I purchased the headphones at Perfect Music on Monday, August 11. Later, I discovered that the left headphone wasn’t working. Unfortunately, the staff refused to replace the headphones or return my money although I provided the receipt.
I’m deeply disappointed about the quality of the product and the disrespectful treatment I received in your store.
I hope to have this issue resolved and get my money back, otherwise, I will have to take further actions.
Email example 6: Response to a complaint
I’m sorry for the unpleasant experience you had in our store and I can understand your frustration. I have forwarded your complaint to our management team, and we’ll do our best to make sure this never happens again.
I refunded your purchase, and your funds should be with you shortly. We also want to offer you a 10% discount for your next purchase in our store. Please use this promo code to get a discount: [link].
Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience you had.
Let’s summarize the main principles for writing a formal email. To make your message clear and effective, always keep in mind the context and your relationship with a recipient, stick to the formal email format, and value the reader’s time.
Once you’ve learned how to write a formal email, it’s time to practice. If you’d like to make emailing more fun and pleasant, try our email client Spark. It gives you email superpowers like snoozes, follow up reminders, and email scheduling so you can save time and focus on meaningful work.