Read Time: 11 mins
Do you need to know how to write a formal email? If you’reused to writing casual emails to friends and family, you may not know how towrite a formal email properly.
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many people struggle withwriting a formal email. This article will help.
Formal emails are often called for when you’re sending anemail to someone you don’t know well. A formal email is also the right choicefor some business situations. If you’re not sure whether to send a formal orinformal email, it’s usually better to send a formal message.
In this article, you’ll learn how a formal email differsfrom an informal email. We’ll provide examples of the various parts of an emailso you can see the difference between informal and formal email messages. We’llalso show you how to properly write a formal email, format a formal email, and send aformal email. Plus, you’ll learn how email signature templates can give yourformal email more impact.
Get more helpful email tips and professional strategies in our free ebook,The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery.
Now let’s get started with learning–either by watching the video tutorial:
or by walking through the detailed written steps below on how to write formal emails.
1. What Is a Formal Email?
A formal email is typically sent to someone you don’t knowwell or to someone who’s in authority. Examples of someone who you might send aformal email to include your professor, a public official, or even a companyyou’re doing business with.
If your workplace has a formal environment, use formalemails with your boss and colleagues unless you’re told to do otherwise. Manyworkplaces are moving towards a more casual environment and this often carriesover to email communications. If you’re not sure what’s right for yourworkplace, ask.
Casual Versus Formal Email: What’s the Difference?
A formal email differs from a casual email. A casual emailusually goes to a person you know well—often it’s someone you’re on good termswith such as a friend or family member. When sending a casual email, you don’tneed to worry as much about structure and tone.
In fact, part of what makes a formal email different from acasual email is the structure. A formal email has a very defined structure,with a definite salutation (the opening part of the email), signature section,opening sentence, and body.
You also use language differently in a formal email than in acasual email. Avoid using abbreviations, contractions, slang, emoticons, andother informal terminology. The tone of a formal email is different as well. Aninformal email may not even use complete sentences or proper grammar, but aformal email always does.
Here’s an example of formal email language:
The meeting is scheduled for December 5th at 9:30 a.m. All studentsmust attend. Your project updates are needed.
Compare the formal language with the informal email languagein this email:
Required meeting—Dec 5, 9:30 a.m. Updates needed. See yathere. :)
Both statements share the same information. But the tone ofthe first is much more formal. Notice the incomplete sentence, slang, andemoticon in the informal example.
2. Writing a Formal Email
While an informal email can often be sent quickly, writing aformal email typically takes a bit more thought and a bit more time. Carefulconsideration needs to be given to each email element.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some commonelements of a formal email:
The subject line is what the reader sees in their inbox. Ifthe subject line is misleading or missing information, your email may not getread. The message may even be sent to spam. The more formal your email is, themore detailed your subject line should be. But beware of making your subjectline too long.
Here’s an example of a formal email subject line:
Required Student Meeting: December 5th, 9:30 a.m.
Compare that subject line with this informal email subjectline:
Notice that the first subject line is more informative andcomplete. The informal subject line, sent to someone you know well, just barelytouches on the topic.
The salutation directly addresses the person you’re sendingthe email to. It’s always used in formal email messages, but sometimes skippedin informal messages. Here are some examples of formal and informalsalutations:
If you’re sending the email to a group, address the entire group.Here’s an example:
If you’ve got the person’s name you want to send the emailtoo, it’s proper to use their name along with any title the person has. Here’sa sample formal salutation for an individual:
Dear Professor Smith,
If you don’t know the name of the person you’re trying toreach, you should make every effort to discover that information. As a lastresort, it’s okay (but less effective) to address the email to the title of theperson you hope to reach. Here’s an example of a formal salutation without aname:
Dear Human Resources Director,
In rare instances where you don’t know a person’s name ortitle, it’s okay to use this salutation:
To whom it may concern,
Contrast the formal salutation examples with the followinginformal salutations:
Informal Salutation for a Group
InformalSalutationfor an Individual
As you can see, the formal and informal salutations are verydifferent.
The opening of a formal email often requires the sender to introduce themselves. In contrast, informal emails are sent to someone you know and the introduction isn’t needed.
Here’s an example of an opening in a formal email:
My name is Jordan Smith. I am the professor of Statistics for XYZ University. This message is for all current students.
In this article, you’ll find even more examples of email openings:
- How to Start and End a Professional Business EmailLaura Spencer09 Oct 2020
The body of a formal email typically elaborates on thepurpose of the email. Elaboration may not be needed in an informal email.Although the body contains detailed information, it’s important to writeclearly and concisely in a formal email. Remember your reader isn’t familiarwith you and may not be familiar with your topic. You don’t want your emailrecipient to misunderstand an important point.
How you end a formal email is equally important. Since theemail closing is the last thing your recipient looks at, your email closing canleave a lasting impression.
A good formal email closing also reminds the reader who youare since it should include your full name, contact information, and title (ifappropriate). If you can, use a professional signature template for added impact. (Learn moreabout signature templates in the next section.)
In contrast, an email closing may be extremely casual for aninformal email. In some instances where the recipient is well known to you, youmay even omit the email closing.
The most common way to start a formal email closing is withthe word "Sincerely." It may be a common closing, but it’s also asafe closing.
Here’s an example of a formal email closing:
Professor of Statistics, XYZ College
[Email address goes here]
[Phone number goes here]
In these articles, we provide even more examples of formal (andinformal) email closings:
- How to End a Business Email With a Professional Closing (+ Expert Tips)Laura Spencer10 Aug 2021
- 30+ Best Ways to Sign Off Your Email (To Be More Memorable)Laura Spencer18 Jul 2017
You now have the information you need to write each sectionof a formal email. Formal emails are very similar to professional emails, sinceprofessional emails are often written in a formal style. The principles thatapply to professional emails are also useful for formal emails. Learn how towrite an effective professional email in this tutorial:
- How to Write Clear and Professional EmailsDavid Masters22 Oct 2020
3. Formatting and Structuring a Formal Email
While many informal emails are unstructured, how you formatand structure your formal email is important. At a minimum, a formal emailshould contain all of the following elements:
- Subjectline. Be specific, but concise. Many experts agree that the ideal subject line is six to ten words long.
- Salutation.Address the recipient by name, if possible. Use honorifics, as appropriate. Forexample, write Dear Professor Smith, not Hey.
- Body text.This section explains the main message of the email. For a formal email, useproper grammar and complete sentences.
- Signature.Your email closing should be formal, not informal. Use your first and lastname. If you’re writing on behalf of an organization and you know the title ofthe person you’re sending the email to, use it.
As we mentioned earlier, there are many similarities betweena business email and a professional email. This tutorial explains the properway to structure a business email:
- How to Master Proper Business Email Format - and Avoid Professional DisasterLaura Spencer27 Oct 2020
Your email font choice is also important when you’reformatting a formal email. Although many modern email platforms allow you touse many different fonts, it’s best to stick with a common, readable font likeVerdana, Calibri, Times New Roman or Georgia. Helvetica and Arial are common sans-serif fonts you could use as well.
Avoid novelty fontslike Comic Sans, handwriting fonts like Bradley Hand, and script fonts likeBrush Script. Remember that if you choose an unusual font for your formalemail, that font may not be supported by some email platforms.
Also, stick to one or two fonts in your formal email. Usingtoo many different fonts can make your email look too casual. Too many fontsmay even make your formal email less readable.
4. Sending a Formal Email
Once you’ve written and formatted your formal email, you’realmost ready to send your message. But before you press that Send button, review your emailcarefully. Look for:
- Spelling errors
- Mistakes in a name
- Grammatical errors
Remember, a sloppy email full of mistakes makes a badimpression.
Also, pay attention to the email address you’re using tosend the email if you want to be taken seriously. Many of us created emailaddresses when we younger that aren’t appropriate for formal emails. If you canget it, your email address for formal emails should be a variation of your namewithout any extra characters.
Here are some examples of appropriate and inappropriateemail address:
Email Address #1
Save this type of email address for casual emails to your family and friends.
Email Address #2
This email address can be used forformal and professional emails.
Note: These emailaddresses used here and throughout this article are for example purposesonly. They aren’t intended to represent real email addresses.
If you’re a student or writing on behalf of an organization,it’s a good idea to use the email provided by your educational institution orthe organization you’re representing. Most colleges, for example, provide theirstudents with email addresses in the format:
5. Using Templates for a Formal Email
One way to add extra impact to your formal email is to use aprofessionally designed signature template. A signature template adds graphicinterest to your email. A signature template also includes your completecontact information.
Here’s an example of an email closing with a professionallydesigned signature template:
Notice the difference that a quality template makes. For more great examplesof email signature templates, review the article:
- 24 Professional (HTML + PSD) Email Signature Templates: 2022 DesignsSean Hodge08 May 2022
You may not have much experience writing formal emails, butif you need to write one it’s important to do it right. Writing a formal emailisn’t difficult when you know what to do.
A formal email is quite differentfrom an informal one. There’s a proper structure, formatting, and tone that youshould use for a formal email.
Now that we’ve explained what you need to know about formalemails, you’re ready to write, format and send your own formal email. Good luck!
In addition to writing great emails, it’s also important to keep on top of your email inbox.
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Envato Tuts+ Senior Associate Editor Business, North Texas, USA
Laura Spencer is our Senior Associate Business Editor here on Tuts+. She uses her business knowledge to help a wide variety of audiences. By sharing her knowledge in well-researched articles, she hopes to help others do well. Laura graduated with a degree in business. Besides Tuts+, Laura's work has been published on many sites including Vandelay Design Blog, FreelanceM.ag, Freelance Folder, Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Woman's Day, LifeHacker, and more. She's also written over 40 business study guides for continuing education companies. Laura has also managed her own writing business since 2002. Before that, she worked in corporate America as a technical writer and also as a marketing writer. As a lifelong learner, Laura continues to seek out better information to help her readers. Check out her latest ideas on her blog.
- Get to know your reader first. Good writing starts with good thinking. ...
- Start with a captivating subject line. ...
- Watch how you start your email. ...
- Don't take them on a journey. ...
- Make sure you sound human. ...
- Stop before you send. ...
- Bring it back to the reader.
- Keep the subject line simple.
- Open with a proper greeting.
- Give the purpose of your email.
- Writing the body text.
- Wrapping up your email.
- Signing off.
- Double check everything.
Dear , As requested by , I am sending over the following documents: I hope these documents meet 's requirements. Please, let me know if anything is missing or needs to be changed.How do you email professionally? ›
- Start with a meaningful subject line. ...
- Address them appropriately. ...
- Keep the email concise and to the point. ...
- Make it easy to read. ...
- Do not use slang. ...
- Be kind and thankful. ...
- Be charismatic. ...
- Bring up points in your previous conversation.
- Ask yourself if you included a close in your first attempt.
- Resist the urge to re-send your first email.
- Don't follow up too quickly.
- Write a truthful subject line.
- Start the message with a reminder of your last touchpoint.
7 alternatives to “I look forward to hearing from you”
- 1 Use a call-to-action. ...
- 2 I'm eager to receive your feedback. ...
- 3 I appreciate your quick response. ...
- 4 Always happy to hear from you. ...
- 5 Keep me informed . . . ...
- 6 I await your immediate response. ...
- 7 Write soon!
Are you looking for the secret of how to write a professional email that is sure to impress not only your bosses' but other colleagues when they read it check out the three parts of email that are crucial when it comes to writing. They are the subject, body, and finally the signature.What are the four basic parts to a professional email? ›
- The subject line. Arguably the most important component of the email, the subject line is the deciding factor in whether your message is read or deleted. ...
- The salutation. The start of the email sets the tone for the main body. ...
- The bit in the middle. ...
- The ending.
- Begin with a greeting. Always open your email with a greeting, such as “Dear Lillian”. ...
- Thank the recipient. If you are replying to a client's inquiry, you should begin with a line of thanks. ...
- State your purpose. ...
- Add your closing remarks. ...
- End with a closing.
Please take a look and let me know what you think of this draft. I'd like to receive detailed feedback on this version of the document. I'd appreciate it if each of you can take a few minutes to review and comment on the report.
For example, say “Please, find the attached file you requested yesterday.” ✅ When you don't want to specify any particular file, avoid using “the”. You can simply write, “Please, find attached.” or its abbreviated form: PFA. ✅ “Attached” is the correct word for electronic communications.How do you send an email to submit documents? ›
Dear Sir/Madam, I Raghuram M, interviewed for the post of sales manager on 16 Jan 2021. Here I am submitting the required documents which you asked me in the interview. So please find the attached files, and please let me know if I need to submit any additional documents.What are the five email etiquette rules? ›
- Use a clear, professional subject line. ...
- Proofread every email you send. ...
- Write your email before entering the recipient email address. ...
- Double check you have the correct recipient. ...
- Ensure you CC all relevant recipients. ...
- You don't always have to "reply all" ...
- Reply to your emails.
Your email message should be formatted like a typical business letter, with spaces between paragraphs and no typos or grammatical errors. Don't mistake length for quality—keep your email brief and to the point. Avoid overly complicated or long sentences.Do and don'ts of business letter writing? ›
- DO write with the reader in mind. ...
- DON'T become over-reliant on your computer's spelling/grammar checking facility. ...
- DO keep writing as simple and succinct as possible. ...
- DON'T be tempted to use sarcasm jokingly in written communication. ...
- DO structure and organise your business writing.
Using bullet points and numbering items can be a great tool for concise emailing. Don't over-communicate as it can become difficult to decipher what part of the message deserves the most attention. Avoid redundancy when scheduling meetings- you likely don't need to include very much text about that topic beforehand…How do I write a good email to a client? ›
- Subject Lines are Important. ...
- Use Bullet Points and Highlight Call to Action. ...
- Keep it Short. ...
- Don't Muddle Content. ...
- Be Collegial. ...
- Watch Your Tone. ...
- Avoid Too Many Exclamation Marks and No Emojis. ...
- Avoid Quotes That Could be Offensive to Others.
- Avoid gendered language.
- Avoid exclamation points.
- Avoid casual language like "Hey,"
- Avoid overly formal language like "Sir" or "Madam"
- Avoid using "To Whom it May Concern"
- Avoid using times of day, such as "Good morning" or "Good evening"
- Avoid using "Dear [Job Title]” if possible.
- Don't write like the reader is your best friend. ...
- Don't assume the reader knows who you are and why you are emailing. ...
- Don't use informal language and emoticons. ...
- Don't ramble on and on and on. ...
- Don't forget to proof read for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Direct response copywriting is the process of writing sales copy that has the goal of getting an immediate response from the customer. This is one of the reasons why direct response is looked at so highly in the writing and business world.
Email copy is pre-written text designed for a specific marketing or sales purpose. One example could be an email letting your subscribers know about an upcoming sale. Email copy is different from standard correspondence because it's not written in the moment.Who is the best email copywriter? ›
- Hana Abaza: @HanaAbaza. ...
- Michael Katz: @MichaelJKatz. ...
- Ian Brodie: @ianbrodie. ...
- Nate Green @TheNateGreen. ...
- Kristin Bond @EmailSnarketing. ...
- Jeanne Jennings: @jeajen. ...
- Dan OShinsky: @danoshinsky. ...
- Bill McCloskey @BillMcCloskey.
- What's Your Objective? ...
- Brevity is Golden. ...
- The Subject Line – Stress the Topic and Importance. ...
- Every Word Counts. ...
- Make it Snackable. ...
- Be Clear and Simple in Style. ...
- Compose on a Non-Smart Phone Device. ...
- Consider When Email is Not Appropriate.
- Tailor the message to the recipient. You need to do your research. ...
- Validate yourself. ...
- Alleviate your audience's pain or give them something they want. ...
- Keep it short, easy, and actionable. ...
- Be appreciative — and a little vulnerable. ...
- Finally, don't use a template.
The idea of a cold email sequence is to provide your prospects with step-by-step information about a product or service they had no idea about. In most cases, prospects don't even know who you are. Or, they may be interested in what you're selling but aren't ready to make a buying decision at this point.