Today people use email for business and pleasure. It’s slightly different to the traditional letter; it’s occasionally perceived as a little less formal than a letter. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the standard form of the letter. In this post I will show you how to improve your email writing.
If you want to get more detailed advice about business email, buy my ebook, Better Business Email.
If you’re writing an informal email a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ will do. It’s a nice touch to use the name of the person you’re sending the email to: that way, they know that you haven’t sent the email to the wrong person by mistake.
If you’re writing a business email, ‘Dear’ is the standard opener. You may often see business emails without ‘Dear’, and with only the name. This is only acceptable when you have already established a working relationship.
For friends, use given names (e.g. John) or nicknames (e.g. Johnny). For business it’s more complex.
If you have a working relationship already, you can use a given name. If you don’t, it is best to use a title (that is, Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.) followed by the family name.
Never use a title followed only by a given name. It looks and sounds strange.
Get to the point!
A lot of people have full inboxes. Say what you want to say. Make it short, but include details and keep it interesting. This is true for both personal and business emails.
Use ‘Yours’ or even ‘Bye’ in personal emails. For business or formal emails, ‘Yours faithfully’ is the most appropriate for first contact. In further emails, use ‘Yours sincerely’.
Sign off with your name. Your given name is fine for personal emails. Use your full name in business emails. You can use your title with your full name but be aware that this looks extremely formal.
Business emails should include an automatic signature with your company name and address, URL and telephone and/or fax number.
Check your spelling and you are ready to send your email.
Here are some examples:
It was great to bump into you the other day. I wish I’d had more time to chat and maybe go for a coffee.
I have some time off next week. Do you want to meet up for a coffee, dinner or drinks sometime?
Let me know.
Dear Mr. Smith,
I was very pleased to have met you again at the conference. I was disappointed that I did not have time available to discuss your company’s language training needs.
I am available for most of next week. If you would like to let me know a time that is convenient for you, I would like to meet you to discuss this.
I look forward to your reply.