Writers Write creates resources for business writers. In this post, we include a step-by-step guide to help you format your emails.
In today’s post, I want to help you format your email.
A Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Format Your Emails
How To Set Up And Format Your Email
1. Your Address
Your company will provide you with an email address. If you do not have an address from a company, make sure you set up a professional, easy-to-access address. Gmail is a good choice. Using firstname.lastname@example.org is a good idea. Yahoo and Hotmail are out-dated and do not make a good impression.
Tip: Do not add a strange background in the body of your email. This makes it difficult to read, distracts the addressee, and it is likely that your email will be marked as spam.
Remember when you send an email from your company email address you do so as a representative of that company. You are accountable for what you write.
2. The Date
The email program generates the date. Keep in mind that emails are admissible in court and are considered a ‘paper trail’.
3. The Recipient’s Name and Address
Check the recipient’s name and address. Your email program has a memory of previous recipients with whom you have communicated. It will ‘suggest’ recipient names as you type. Be careful that you do not accidentally add incorrect names. It can be embarrassing for you and bad for your business if you get this wrong.
4. The Font
- Use a sans serif font such as Helvetica, Calibri, Verdana, Lucida Sans, or Arial.
- It should be 11pt or 12pt.
- It should be black.
5. The Greeting
Always be friendly, but professional. Do not use ‘Hi’ in business emails. Hi is an interjection. It is not a greeting. ‘Dear’ is a good choice for formal emails. ‘Hello’ is good for less formal emails.
You do not use a comma after the greeting in plain English.
6. The Subject
Subject lines are important. They tell readers why they are receiving the email. Keep them short and factual. Include a brief description of the contents of the email.
6. The Text Of Your Email
The main body of your email should have single-spacing between lines and a blank line (not an indent) before each new paragraph.
Each new paragraph should start on the left hand side. Use the inverted pyramid to structure your email.
7. The Closing, Your Name, Your Signature
- Leave a one-line space.
- End with an appropriate closing phrase, such as ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Kind regards’.
- You do not use a comma after the phrase in plain English.
- Your signature should be set up according to company guidelines.
- If you have your own business, make sure your email signature is properly set up.
- Keep it professional. Do not include verses, quotes, emoticons, or glitter fairies.
- Your closing, your name, and signature should be on the left hand side.
- If you send email from your phone, set up your signature there.
Have look at the example below for basic set-up and formatting tips:
How To Structure The Body Of An Email
1. Include the Reason for Writing
I am writing to:
- inquire about
- apologise for
- comment on
- apply for
- inform you
2. The Purpose
Once you have introduced the reason for writing your email, move on to the specific purpose of your email. Here are a number of possibilities:
I would be grateful if you could…
Agreeing To Requests
I would be delighted to…
Giving Bad News
I am afraid that…
3. Attaching Documents
I have attached (Do not write ‘Please find attached’. Your email is not a clue in a treasure hunt.)
4. Closing Remarks
- Thank you for your help.
- Please contact us again if we can help in any way.
5. Reference to Future Contact
I look forward to:
- hearing from you soon
- meeting you next Tuesday
- seeing you next Thursday
6. The Finish
- Yours faithfully (For formal emails – if you do not know the person)
- Yours sincerely (For formal emails – if you know the person)
- Best wishes (If your business is informal)
- Kind regards (If the business is informal or person is a close business contact or friend)
We hope this helps you to set up and format your emails. Remember that we need to present a professional from when we conduct business.
If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
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