How to write a formal email in English

How to write a formal email in English

Writing professional emails in English when you aren't exactly fluent in the language can sometimes prove to be a difficult feat. However, this is an essential skill for many to develop, as English is increasingly becoming the language of business and international dealings. In this article, you will find a list of tips and resources to help you avoid some of the biggest mistakes that non-native speakers may make when drafting professional emails in English.

How to choose the subject of an email in English?

Like in many languages, the Subject field of an email should demonstrate explicitly and concisely the content of your email. Upon reading the subject of your email, the recipient should already know if you have sent the email to get in contact, to ask a question or for more information on a topic, to follow up on a previously explored topic, to apply for a job, etc.

A good way to select the most pertinent email subject is to do so after you have drafted and reread the body of the email.

How to establish the tone of an English email?

There are a range on expressions that you might use in a professional email that depend on your level of familiarity with the person receiving it. But in general, emails in English are less formal than in many other languages.

How to start an English email?

An informal greeting might employ "Hello" or "Hi," suggesting a level of equal news between yourself and the recipient. A formal greeting might, instead, use "Dear," which is neutral and is often used to address clients.

If you are sending an email to an unknown recipient, you may begin your message with "To whom it may concern".

What to write in the body of an English email?

The first sentence of the email should precisely summarize the purpose of the email and should, therefore, be in direct relation to the email's subject line.

You may consider employing phrases like "I am writing in regard to...", "Your name was given to me by...", or "I am writing to you on behalf of..." if it is the first time that you are contacting the person.

If you are responding to an email, phrases like "Thank you for your consideration regarding..." are appropriate.

If you are writing to inform someone of something, you may consider using phrases like "I am writing to let you know that...", "We regret to inform you that...", or "We are happy to let you know that...".

If you are requesting something, phrases like "I'd be grateful if you could...", "Would you be so kind as to...", and "Could you give me some information about..." are relevant.

To follow up on a subject via email, you may consider phrases like "I would like to kindly remind you that...", "Further to...", or "With reference to...".

Always remember to thank your recipient, using phrases like "I would like to express my gratitude for all your help in this matter."

How to finish an email in English?

There are many ways that you might choose to end a professional email, depending on the nature of the message.

You may offer additional help, using a phrase like "If you need any additional assistance, please contact me". You may also choose to thank someone "in advance" for what you have asked them to do in the body of your email. Additionally, you may share the fact that you look forward to hearing from the person soon.

The most widely used closings include "Kind regards" and "Best".

How to add attached pieces in emails?

You may refer to attached pieces by asking your recipient to "please find attached" the document or documents. You may also employ "Hereby attached" or "Please find below", the latter only being applicable if the recipient may find a string of forwarded emails below your message.

American English vs British English

American English and British English can vary quite a bit, and this difference can be underlines in a professional context. You should consider your audience when employing one or the other in order to avoid offending your correspondant. If you have doubts, you can refer to official sources, like the Oxford Dictionary.

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