Emails are among the most commonly used means of communication in the world… and for good reason! They’re an immediate way to share information, and allow you to interact with people and businesses both within and beyond your country’s borders. Good writing skills are vital for writing a strong, clear, and actionable email in English. It can help you get that job abroad, get accepted into a university, and make and maintain international friendships, to name but a few. Continue reading for useful tips about email writing in English and how to write a perfect email in English!
Are you also learning German? Check out our article on how to write an email in German.
The subject line is the first point of contact the recipients of your email will have to your email. To write a good subject line, you need to give a clear and precise message, indicating the content of the email or reason for writing. This should be done in as few words as possible so as to grab the attention of the reader. Having an inaccurate or unclear subject line or not having one at all could push the recipient to delete it without even opening it!
Writing an email in English requires clear and short sentences. Break up the content into paragraphs with each paragraph discussing a different topic. This makes the email a lot easier to read, less overwhelming, and reduces the risk of miscommunication which is typical of any form of online communication. For a business email, the tone should also be polite, respectful, and courteous—they are taking time out of their day to read your email and respond to you after all.
Particularly for formal and professional emails, having a personal signature at the end of your email that includes relevant information to the recipient can be super useful. Not only that but it makes you come across as being very professional yourself! This information can include your name and surname, job title, and link to your personal or company website and to your LinkedIn profile, for example.
Make sure you double and triple check your email for typos, grammatical errors, spelling and punctuation mistakes. It’s easy to make these mistakes even in your own language! If you are contacting a university or future employer you want to make sure your email is absolutely flawless otherwise it can give the impression that you are unprofessional and rather careless. Having a spell checking tool will help a lot here, or if possible, get a native English speaker to check it for you. Don’t forget to also double-check email addresses for all recipients!
In short, the structure of an email in English is the following:
In an informal email, where you know the person quite well, you can just open your email with a simple “Hey [First Name]” or “Hi [First Name].”
For a formal or professional email in English, you want to use “Dear [Title] [Surname]” or “Hello [Title] [Surname].” For example, “Dear Mr. Smith.”
Important: Directly after the above greetings, you want to use a comma (,) after their name.
If you don’t know the name of the person to whom you are writing, you can just use “To Whom It May Concern:.” Note that the entire phrase is capitalized, then followed by a colon.
This is usually only appropriate to include when you know the person to whom you are writing, usually in an informal email. This can either go after the greeting or just before the closing. Examples of small talk can include asking about the person’s family, a mutual friend, or an activity that you have in common.
If you are writing to someone for the first time, you want to clearly indicate the reason for writing. This should be consistent with the subject line of the email. You can start off by introducing yourself briefly and then follow on with “I am writing with regard to…,” I am writing to let you know…,” or I am writing in response to…,” for example.
There is no formula for writing the body of the text as this varies according to the context of the email. It’s important to keep clear and short sentences here and to divide the body of text into several paragraphs.
Choosing the most appropriate closing for a professional email depends on the action you wish the recipient to take. This can be, for example, “I look forward to hearing from you soon,” “Thank you in advance,” or “For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.” This should then be followed by “Best regards,” “Kind regards,” or “Yours sincerely” on a separate line with your signature (first and last name) directly below.
There are less guidelines to follow with informal emails with appropriate closings including “Thanks,” “See you soon!” or even a brief sentence like “I’m really looking forward to meeting you in person.” You can then just sign off with your first name.
So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about how write a perfect email in English. Again, don’t forget to proofread, proofread, proofread!