An email consists of a subject line, salutation, body, greetings, and sometimes attachments.
And it’s “email” – no hyphen. In the early days instead of writing “electronic mail” it was abbreviated to e-mail. Over time “email” has become a word in its own right, so the hyphen has fallen away.
The subject line should be specific
Don’t refer to something ambiguous like “Your email” or “Our meeting”. Be specific. The recipient should immediately recognise what it’s about. That’ll also determine how fast they’ll respond.
Keep the email chain going. If you’ve replied and are waiting for feedback, use your last email to follow up. Don’t respond to an earlier email with new questions. That later complicates trying to establish what happened when, and where you’re at.
And DON’T use an email on a different subject to write to a person about something else. That creates confusion and wastes time. First upon receipt, and later when you’re looking for emails on a certain subject, you’ll have to wade through unrelated material again.
If an email was sent to a group, but your response is of no interest to the entire group, don’t hit “reply all”. In addition to the sender, only copy in those people who need to read your response.
Addressing the recipient
“Dear” plus their name for most emails; for colleagues or people with whom you have a good relationship “Hi” plus their name is also fine.
The body of your email
The contents of the email should be easy to read and laid out in a logical manner. If you’re covering several issues, it helps to have sub-headings in your email.
Have you ever noticed that many people only respond to the last question you asked and totally ignore all the others? And then you have to write back and ask again. To avoid that, repeat at the end what you need to know by listing your questions again.
This is not social media – use words. A business email is equal to a business letter. The only difference is the means of delivery. It should look professional and be written in business language.
Among close colleagues, your writing style can be a bit more informal. But keep in mind that emails are often forwarded and nothing in your email should be so casual – or personal – that it’s inappropriate for somebody else to read.
“Regards” is the most used form, “Kind regards” is also fine (but then “regards” is all lower case).
In letters we still write “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully” (if it’s very formal), but these forms aren’t used in emails.
No comma after “Dear …” in the beginning of the email, nor after “Regards”.
© Andrea Paulsen Communications