Email writing is an art and doing it well takes know-how and practice. But you don’t have to make all the mistakes for yourself in order to write professional emails.
We assembled for you the essential tips for creating highly effective formal emails with a deep dive into formal email formats, structure, and best practices. We also gathered some real-life examples and templates you can use right away with a few tweaks.
What’s in this article
Formal vs informal email writing
Formal email writing is usually in a B2B or B2C scenario or a professional email between colleagues, businesses, or partners. Informal email writing is something you might send a friend, family member, or sometimes even a quick email you’re firing off to a colleague.
When you’re emailing a friend there is not much risk in getting your words or meaning wrong, and there is little risk of hurting your reputation or wrecking an incredible business opportunity. But when writing a business email there is much at stake and many things that can go horribly wrong. This is why our article will deal mostly with formal email writing and how to get it right every time.
Here, we’ll go over all the ins and outs of what goes into an email structure, different email formats you can use, as well as short email templates that you can use in various scenarios. Keep reading to learn how to write the perfect email.
Basic formal & professional email structure
Before we get into different email templates, it’s important to know how to build an email yourself. For the most part, every email, regardless of its contents, will follow the same structure with the same basic elements. You should get to know these elements in order to ensure proper and effective email writing as a whole.
The basic elements of professional email writing:
- Your email address
- Subject line
- Email Opening
- Email body
- Email ending
- Email Sign off
- Email signature/footer
Now let’s break these down, one by one.
Professional email address
Your email address is oftentimes out of your control. If you’re working for a company or operate under the umbrella of a brand your email address will likely include the company or brand name domain.
For example, the emails in WiseStamp are all in the following format: [employee_name]@wisestamp.com. This ensures that we all have a professional business email address. Since only the owner of wisestamp.com can issue email addresses under that domain name, this ensures our emails appear legitimate.
Imagine if each employee would have a random Gmail address like [name]firstname.lastname@example.org, which anyone can create, that would be a bit suspicious. Email open rates are first and foremost dependent on trust, so make sure you have a trustworthy email address or suffer very low open rates.
If you are a freelancer professional, working separately from an established brand, consider buying a domain name for your personal brand. You can look up available domains on Google domain registrar.
Your subject line will be the single most important element in your formal email writing. It is the first thing your recipient will see and unless you convince her then and there that your email is safe, relevant, and high priority (in that order) it may never be opened. If this happens, any effort you put into the rest of the email elements will go to waste.
Your subject line will depend on the purpose or content of your email, but overall, you want it to be something engaging enough for a recipient to click on.
Email subject line guidelines:
- Be clear and specific – avoid using generic or clickbait subject lines that say nothing or make unrealistic promises, like “find out how to double your business in a week”.
- Be original – avoid using those all too common subject line templates you find on the internet. Instead make original subject lines that are relevant, personal, and concise.
- Add relevancy – address something that the recipient will recognize, like an acquaintance’s name or an article/ show/ book they appeared on.
Studies have shown that personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. You also want to tailor your email subject line to your email goal, whether it’s a sales email, a personal email, a newsletter, or something else. I advise that you take the time to think of 3-4 refined options then consider which of them will likely be most appropriate.
The next most important way to hook a recipient into your email is by writing a strong email opening line. Like your subject line, the email opening is mostly used as another filtering stage for most people. If it fails to meet the promise made in the subject line, your readers will ditch it.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to define your main point in 1 or 2 paragraphs tops. If you clearly convey your request or question and your reader feels it’s relevant and interesting, then they’ll continue reading your email. If you manage to get them to stay after this point, in most cases, they’ll return your email. Good for you.
Email opening guidelines:
- Address your recipient by their preferred name – look up an article they’ve written or their LinkedIn page and see what name they use. Some people will use their full name or their nickname accordingly (for example David vs Dave, or Anastasia vs Ana).
- Establish a connection – connect your email to a personal experience that involves the recipient, like an article or a news piece you’ve read about them, or a conversation you had with an acquaintance.
- Match the opening with the subject line – your opening message has to mirror the promise made in the subject line because this is how the reader validates relevancy. If you don’t connect the subject line to the opening, readers will be confused and even assume clickbait.
- Get to the point fast – tell your reader why you contacted her and what’s in it for her.
The body of your email is where you get into your main message. Whether you’re composing an email to establish a new business connection or just following up on a meeting, the body of your email should be detailed enough that the reader isn’t confused, but also brief and to the point. No one wants to sit and read a long-winded email when they have dozens of other unattended messages in their inbox.
Email body writing guidelines:
- Be concise – detail only what’s needed to get your point across.
- Use words that convey (authentic) positive personal emotional – words like “glad”, “excited”, “intrigued”, “confident”.
- Use the word “because” when asking for something – it’s been scientifically shown that people are more easily convinced to do something if told why, and more so if the reason is important for them.
- Show don’t tell – if you can’t explain something in few words, see if you can add a screenshot, a video or a link that explain it better.
- Use headings to split long content into sub-topics – if you can’t avoid writing a long email, make sure to break it up into subsections with headings. This will help your time-scarce readers to scan and find their points of interest.
- Add your concrete request or question in bold text – to ensure your readers do not miss the most important piece of content (your request or question) – set it in a separate line and put it in bold. You can also use some color. If you do avoid light shades (you want high contrast between the text and the white background. Once you pick a color – stick with it.
After you’ve addressed all your main points in the body of your email, you’ll want to end it with a respectful and brief salutation. You can either invite your recipient to reach out for more questions, wish them success, or ask a question. It all depends on the motive for your email. If it was a long email it could also be a good idea to gently reiterate your main request, question, or motivation.
When closing your email, you’ll want to choose a suitable email sign-off. There are different sign-offs you can use for each occasion, such as “best regards,” “sincerely,” or “with love,” but you obviously wouldn’t want to send the last one to your manager. Make sure your signoff is appropriate to your email content and your recipient.
A cool tip you can apply is to add a handwritten signature sign off.
A handwritten signature give your recipient the feeling that you gave the email special attention and a personal touch. You can create one here.
Your email signature (or footer) is your wave of goodbye. The way you do this can affect the impression you’ve made up to this point. If you make this moment memorable, organized, and aesthetic you can get some extra credit and a positive attitude from your reader. On the other hand, if you mess this up, your entire message or offer may be put in doubt. So, make sure your email signature looks visually appealing and well organized.
Consider creating a professional email signature to nail a positive lasting impression. Use the simple text email signature we all used back when email started at your discretion. Whichever you choose, be sure to include all your professional and contact information. It would also be a good idea to add links to your website, social media sites you are most active in, or a landing page.
Professional formal email examples: specific formats for specific goals & uses
In order to get a better understanding of how all the elements of an email work together in different types of emails, it’s helpful to look at some templates. Here, we’ll cover a number of email scenarios and provide you with an example for each one. Each of these letters refers to a specific situation, but you can always tweak the content to make it more relevant to your needs.
Our examples of the most common email formats:
Apology letters samples:
Sample business emails (B2B and B2C):
- Introduction email to client (outreach)
- Sample email for proposal submission
- Proposal submission email
- Quotation email
- Email asking for feedback
Information inquiry letter samples:
Request email samples – professional email asking for something:
- Sick leave mail format
- Letter asking for a discount from the supplier
- Ask for a raise
- Email your boss about a problem (asking for help)
- Email to schedule a meeting
Work update email samples:
Confirmation vs rejection email samples:
Thank you email
A thank you email is usually one that you’ll send after previous communication with someone. You might want to thank them for their help on a project, for fulfilling your personal request that you previously sent, for a job interview, or even for something as simple as taking a phone call or a meeting.
When composing a thank you email, you don’t want it to be too long, so get straight to the point. Additionally, they aren’t necessary 100% of the time and can sometimes just clog up the inbox of someone who might be really busy, so consider whether or not it will be useful for you before you click send on a “thank you” email.
Thank you email for work done or service rendered
Thank you so much for [action they did] It was such a pleasure to work with you, and I’m very excited about the next opportunity to work together again.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can provide any additional information.
[name and job title]
Thank you email for a job interview
Dear [name of hiring manager],
I enjoyed speaking with you the other day at the interview for the [job name]. The job appears to be an ideal match for my skills, ambitions, and interests.
The innovative approach to the corporate culture within the [job field] world confirmed my wish to work at your firm.
I will bring my engineering skills, assertiveness, and ability to engage others to work in a cooperative way within the [name of department] department.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the [position title] at [company]. I have a high level of interest in working for your firm and look forward to hearing from you.
Formal letter of appreciation
Dear Mr./Mrs. [name],
I would like to formally recognize all the hard work and dedication you’ve put into completing [project/task]. Due to your consistent efforts, the project is what it is today and that led to the positive results we were hoping for.
On behalf of [company name, board members, etc.], we would like to formally thank you for your hard work and we would like to let you know that we highly value your contribution and your continued dedication to your job.
We are very grateful to have you as a member of our team and we wish to continue to see you thrive within our organization.
[Name and job title]
Letter of complaint
On January 30th, 2020, I made a reservation at your restaurant located at 1234 Mulberry Lane for a birthday dinner for four people. This letter is intended to bring certain issues to your attention.
Unfortunately, we did not enjoy our dinner due to the fact that the food was very slow to arrive and we received the wrong dishes. It’s understandable that it was a busy time at your restaurant, but the quality of the service was not as expected.
To resolve this problem, I would appreciate it if you could provide compensation in the form of a gift voucher or discount on a future meal.
I’m looking forward to your reply.
It used to be common to send your cover letter and CV as an attachment to your email. However, it’s becoming a lot more accepted to use the email itself as your cover letter and simply attach your CV.
When sending a cover letter email, make sure you’re using formal language, addressing the right person such as HR or the hiring manager, you use a relevant subject and opening line, and the body of your email demonstrates why you’d be a perfect fit for the job and company. Since hiring managers likely receive dozens of email cover letters, be sure to make sure yours stands out and doesn’t drag on too long.
Cover letter example
Dear hiring manager [name],
I was very interested while reading the job posting for the position of [job title]. I believe that the experience I have strongly match the responsibilities of this position. I am enthusiastic about submitting my application for the position.
My most recent position was at [company name], where I was a [job title name ]. Additionally, I recently participated in a [mention an accomplishment in your last job that is relevent]
I have attached my resume to this email. Thanks to it, I believe you will learn more about my experience, education, and achievements.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
If it’s your first time reaching out to someone or a second or even third, the format of your email should be different. A first contact email has to include certain details that provide context.
when writing a reminder email or follow-up email you don’t need to provide a broad context. Instead, you should just briefly and lightly remind your recipients of what you already agreed on (assume that it simply may have been forgotten or placed low in their backlog).
This little push can go a long way in shortening your timetables and making sure you’re items are prioritized. Most people appreciate the reminder and respect you for being steadfast.
Reminder email sample
I’m sure your schedule is very busy, so this email is simply to remind you of your upcoming interview with [name] who is a candidate for [name of position].
The interview will be at [time] on [date] in [location].
Please let me know if there’s anything I can help you with to prepare to interview this candidate.
Apology letters samples
From time to time we all make mistakes, and we all get something wrong. Sometimes our mistakes hurt others, cause them discomfort, or make them frustrated. In these situations, it’s usually the right call to simply apologize.
Apologizing is something that must be sincere or you risk offending the person further. It’s always the best approach to express genuine regret.
But regardless of whatever you truly feel, be very careful to only use words that express empathy for whomever it is you’re apologizing to. Do not lay any responsibility on them, and do not give excuses.
Letter of apology for a client
Dear [client’s name],
Please accept my deepest apologies on behalf of [company or business name] for the poor experience you had at our restaurant.
I want to thank you for bringing these issues to my attention and please know that we are making every effort to correct our mistakes so events like these don’t happen in the future.
As a token of our apology, please accept a gift card in the amount of $50.00 that can be used at our restaurant in the future.
I hope to greet you again soon at [company or business name].
[Your name and job title]
Apology letter from boss
Dear Mr./Mrs. [boss’s family name],
I’m writing to you to express my regret for my behavior on [date] in regard to [event]. I would like to apologize for my words and actions and reassure you that such an event will not happen again.
On the date in question, I got into a verbal altercation with the head waiter about the scheduling, and this led to my inexcusable behavior. I have already apologized to [name of colleague], and I wanted to assure you that I will work to improve my reactions and behavior in the future.
I’d be happy to meet with you to speak about the incident further if you have any outstanding concerns.
I am sorry again.
Apology mail for manager
Dear [manager’s name],
I owe you an apology for providing you with the wrong information on [date] regarding [event]. It was not my intention to provide inaccurate information and I apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused you.
It wasn’t my intention to mislead you, and it seems the false information was a result of a careless mistake. I will be sure to be more thoughtful in the future and learn from this incident.
Please do not hesitate to share any thoughts or concerns with me and I’d be glad to discuss this further.
Business email samples
Introduction email to a client (sample email to approach a new client)
I would like to take a moment to introduce myself and my company. My name is [name] and I am a [job title] at [company name]. Our company provides customers with cutting-edge technology for all their email signature needs.
At [company name], there are a number of services we can offer, such as [short list of services]. Our employees are also highly dedicated and are willing to help you with your every need.
I’d love the opportunity to speak or meet with you to discuss your needs further and to tell you more about how [company name] can help you succeed. You can contact me at [phone number] with any questions you may have.
Proposal submission email
Please find enclosed to this email the proposal you requested regarding your website audit.
We hope that you will find this proposal helpful and insightful and that it meets your expectations. Of course, if you would like to make any adjustments or go in a different direction, feel free to let us know and we’d be happy to discuss with you.
Thank you for entrusting [your company name] with your website audit, and we hope to hear back from you soon.
[Name and job title]
Sending quotation email
Dear [customer name],
We’d like to thank you for sending in your inquiry on [date] regarding a quotation for auditing your website.
Based on an initial estimation, we are happy to offer you a quotation based on your requests. Please find the official pricing quote attached to this email. Note that this quotation includes [list of services], but should you want additional services, we’d be happy to discuss it further with you and provide another quotation.
Please do not hesitate to get back to us with any questions about the quotation or our services.
[Your name and job title]
Email asking for feedback
Hi [customer name],
We really appreciate you using our services on [date] and we’d like to get your feedback on your experience.
Please follow the link [insert link] to complete a short survey regarding your experience. This survey shouldn’t take any longer than 2 minutes and it will help us improve our products and services in the future.
We want to thank you in advance for your time and hope that you enjoyed your experience with [company name].
[Name and/or company name]
Inquiry letter samples
Email of inquiry requesting information
This email is to inquire about the website audit services you posted on your website.
As I understand, you offer services to audit businesses’ websites and provide personalized insight into what improvements can be made. I’d like to request further information with regard to your pricing as well as the scope of the work that will be performed, including specific services that can be expected.
I look forward to receiving your response.
[Your name and job title]
Email asking for a status update
I wanted to check in and check on the status of the website audit project that is due on [date].
Please let me know where you’re at with the project and don’t hesitate to let me know if you require any assistance from my end.
Request email samples – professional email asking for something
A personal request email is usually straight to the point and involves a sender asking a recipient for something. It could be anything from connecting on a professional network, asking to set up a meeting, or even requesting a professional introduction. Following a personal request email, a recipient may decide to either accept or reject what the sender is asking for. In this type of email, it’s important to be very clear with what you’re asking for.
Sick leave mail format
Hi [Name of manager/supervisor],
I am writing to request sick leave from [date range]. I will be undergoing surgery and at the recommendation of my doctor, I need to be off of work for 2 weeks in order to recover. I hope to be back at work on [date].
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Letter asking for a discount from the supplier
Dear [name of the supplier],
Thank you for sending over your catalog of goods. We are very much interested in purchasing [name of the product(s)] from you and would like to get a quote for these items.
Additionally, we are hoping that this will lead to a prolonged partnership between the two of us. Therefore, we are kindly requesting that you provide us with your best possible price since we would like to use your goods on a permanent basis.
Thank you for your understanding.
[Your name and job title]
Ask for a raise
Dear [Name of Manager/supervisor],
I have greatly enjoyed working for [company name] over the last 3 years. During these years, I feel that I have become a valuable member of your team and I have contributed to projects in a significant way.
Since working here, I have accomplished: [list accomplishments].
As an employee, I think I have outperformed the goals set for me. As a result, I would like to have the opportunity to discuss increasing my salary so that it matches my current performance. Please let me know when is a good time for you to meet so that we can discuss this further.
Once again, I am grateful to be part of an organization that provides me with unique challenges and opportunities to continuously learn and grow.
Email your boss about a problem (asking for help)
Dear Mr./Mrs. [name of boss],
I would like to bring to your attention the incident that occurred at [location] on [date] at [time].
I was deeply upset by the actions of [coworker/event]. I tried to speak with them, but this did not lead to any sort of resolution and now I feel as if our professional relationship at work is strained as a result.
I am turning to you for assistance with the matter and I hope that you are able to come up with a solution that neither of us has thought of yet.
Thank you for taking the matter seriously and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Email to schedule a meeting
Thanks for getting in touch with us about our product. I’d be glad to set up a meeting in order to give you more information, answer your questions, and show you how it can work for your business. Does [date] at [time] work for you?
I look forward to meeting with you soon!
Work update email
Email to the client sharing the status of the project
Dear [name of client],
We’d like to keep you updated regarding the progress we’ve made on our project. Please have a look at the tasks we’ve accomplished below and do not hesitate to get back to me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Key highlights and updates:
- [list them]
Tasks accomplished this week:
- [list them]
Tasks to do next week:
- [list them]
Email the boss about work progress
Hi [name of boss],
I am happy to let you know that the project [name of project] that was assigned to me on [date] is now nearing completion. Due to the hard work of our team, the project is expected to be completed on time. Based on the pace of our work, I expect to have the entire project completed by [date].
The remaining elements of this project to be completed are as follows:
- [List them 1]
- [List them 2]
- [List them n]
Thank you for your continued support and guidance and please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions.
Confirmation vs rejection email samples
You might get an email confirmation after you purchase something online, or you can also reply to a formal email confirming receipt of an email attachment, a meeting time, or a company update. A rejection email is similar in that it might reject the item that was proposed in an email, in which case you’d let the sender know.
Dear Mr./Mrs. [name],
It is my great pleasure to inform you that I will be accepting your offer for employment as [job title] with [company name]. The goals for this role that you described are in line with my personal career aspirations, and I hope to be able to learn and grow in this role.
As discussed in our previous meeting, my salary will be [salary] and I will be starting on [date].
I appreciate all the time you took to make the interviews as seamless as they were, and I look forward to working with you soon.
“This is to inform you that” letter
Dear Mr./Mrs. [name],
This is to inform you that your business proposal [title of the proposal] has unfortunately been rejected by our committee. While we did like your idea, unfortunately, the costs involved reach well beyond our budget for this quarter.
We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and encourage you to submit additional proposals if you have others that are aligned with our goals.
Best of luck,
[Your name and job title]
Job rejection email
Dear [name of hiring manager],
This is to inform you that I will not be proceeding in the interview process for [job title] with [company name]. I would like to formally withdraw my candidacy.
At this time, I have accepted a position with another company, so I am no longer in search of employment. However, I would like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to meet with me and for being attentive to my questions about the role.
It was a pleasure meeting with you and I wish you luck in finding the right candidate for the job.
Aesthetics of a formal email
Before you even get started on the content of your email, you want to make sure the aesthetic is appealing and not too out of the ordinary.
Of course, you want to capture the attention of your recipient, but you also want to appear professional, so keep the Comic Sans font out of the equation. What sort of aesthetics should you pay attention to in a formal email? Let’s take a look.
Choice of Font
Don’t start reinventing the wheel here. It’s better to go with a safe bet instead of a creative option when selecting a font. Choose a font that’s easy to read and skim, since if you’re sending a longer email it’s possible your recipient will just skim its contents. Therefore, you want to font to be clear and the letters to be far enough apart.
We suggest going with fonts like Georgia, Verdana, Arial, or Times New Roman
You don’t want your recipient to have to squint to read your email, but your text also shouldn’t appear as if it’s yelling either. Depending on the font you go with you might need to tweak the sizing a little, but in general, font size 12 is what you should be using. You can use size 10 or 11 as well, just make sure it doesn’t look too small before sending your email.
How do I improve my email writing skills?
There are a number of ways you can make your emails shine, and you don’t need to be a professional writer to do it. In fact, there are a few small areas you can focus on to make your emails clearer and more well-received. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when composing an email.
1. Practice optimizing your subject lines
Your subject line is the first thing a recipient sees when they receive your email. Therefore, it’s important that it’s optimized as much as possible. Keep these tips in mind when coming up with your subject line:
- Keep it short, no more than 40 characters is ideal
- Make it personal, use the recipient’s name if you have it
- Use a call to action, like “let’s set up a meeting today”
- Create a sense of urgency, such as “offer to expire soon”
2. Practice summarizing your main point for your email openings
Once you get your recipient to open your email, you don’t want to bore them right away. You have to keep things interesting, relevant, and straight to the point. That’s why it’s crucial to put your main point somewhere in the first sentence, or at least the first paragraph.
While your opening line can be something general like “thank you for taking the time to meet with me,” the very next line should be something more powerful. Whether you ask for the results of a meeting, make a proposal, or initiate a follow-up meeting, this first sentence sets the tone of the rest of the email so the reader knows exactly what the subject is and what to expect from the rest of your message.
3. Research the correct email etiquette to use for your most common scenarios
When sending emails, especially formal or professional emails for work, it’s important to maintain email etiquette. Since many of us answer our emails on our phones while on the go, it’s tempting to reply to emails as we would a text message, but that’s not good practice.
4. Proofread grammar
Finally, before you click send, always give your email a once-over. Make sure your email is free of types, the punctuation makes sense (avoid using too many exclamation points), and that your syntax is correct.
Don’t always rely on spell-checkers, you want to read through your email before sending, especially if it’s an important message to a superior or a client since emails with grammar mistakes can potentially have a negative impact.
There are countless reasons for sending an email, and even if we didn’t cover every single scenario here, you should at least have a better idea of what constitutes a good email. Using our tips and examples, you’ll be able to compose better emails that get you the results you want.