Email in the 21st century has become one of the most used methods by which to communicate. People around the globe now use email to keep in touch with friends, communicate for business practices, and use it as a frequent form of communication between student and instructor at educational institutions. Yet, many people are unaware there is a specific type of email called a 'formal email' which is used for professional business-like purposes and follows its own rules of 'email etiquette'.
A formal email is composed much in the same way as a formal letter you would pen by hand. If you are someone who needs to communicate for academic or business purposes, you should know how to write this type of correspondence. The following tips will help you create a formal email:
- Salutation - always begin by addressing the person you are writing to. Start with Dear followed by the person's name. If you are unfamiliar with the person you are addressing, Dear Sir/Madam is perfectly acceptable. A comma will always follow the name.
- The Body/Content - always state your intent or purpose in the first paragraph and keep all other paragraphs short and to the point. Bullet points can be especially effective if you are explaining steps, listing questions, or suggesting options. Put a double line break in between your paragraphs.
- Grammar rules - formal emails should always follow the same grammatical rules as any other writing. Remember to use capitalization whenever it is warranted. Many formal email mistakes include omitting or the misuse of capitalization. Capitalize I, the first letter of pronouns, the first word of a sentence, and all acronyms (USA). Never use capitalization for your entire message!
- Closing - closing a formal email is just as important as the salutation. If you are personal with the recipient of the email, a 'Have a great day' or 'Take care' will do. However, if your email is going to someone you do not know on a personal basis your closing will need to be a bit more formal- 'Yours sincerely' or 'Best regards' will be acceptable closings in these instances.
- Signature – Your email signature matters! Common sense dictates that you use your name along with all your contact details. This makes it easier for an immediate response or for future reference. Never sign a formal email with an inspirational message that you like or a witty quote. While fine for an impersonal email they simply are not appropriate when signing a professional business-like email.
Remembering the rules of formal email writing is crucial to being taken seriously. Writing an email in a formal manner will enable you to get your point across and will ensure you receive the recognition you deserve. Being polite and courteous also goes a long way when you are communicating, no matter who your recipient is. The key to a formal email will be writing in a manner which is going to be the most effective in communicating your purpose for writing.