When you enter the professional sphere in any international industry, there’s a strong possibility that your role will include writing professional emails in English on a regular basis.
There are lots of situations that call for a professional email, including:
Applying for a job
Making an enquiry with a company
Arranging an appointment
Resolving an issue with a client
No person can function efficiently and successfully in an international environment without being able to write a professional message in English in any of the above circumstances, so it’s essential to learn how.
If English isn’t your first language, writing professional communications may feel daunting. However, even though most people are sympathetic to the fact that communicating in a second language can be challenging, your ability to write a professional email in English is a reflection on you, and making mistakes doesn’t look good.
Emails can be a cause of confusion for many people. They can be written both formally and informally. It really depends on who the recipient is. The confusion is usually when formal emails contain language – vocabulary and expressions – that are more informal. Many people write as they speak and this is an added distractor.
The key thing to remember is that emails are written records. Don’t write or phrase something in a way that can be misunderstood or cause confusion.
Length – short or long emails. This depends on what the purpose of the email is – are you asking for something or giving information. Emails that are too long can go unread, so be careful. They need to be to the point!
Tone – this is your workplace and you are emailing colleagues, clients, and management. Remember they aren’t your best friends from school. You need to be friendly but professional. Don’t write in an over familiar manner unless you have a close relationship with her person, to avoid miscommunications.
Vocabulary – as with any writing piece you shouldn’t repeat the same words. You need to vary your expressions and how you say things. As with tone, think about the language you use. This is work after all.
Throughout the email you need to be careful of your grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation so you present a professional image, of both yourself and the company.
Structure – you can write a good email in five parts. They are a greeting, thanking the recipient, stating your purpose of the email, adding any closing remarks, and closing the email.
Main text – this is where you state the purpose of your email. It is best to keep this short and to the point. You can give all the information you need to/or ask, but be careful not to add additional information that isn’t needed or add irrelevant sentences to the email. Keep the sentences short and clear.
It might be true that there are lots of different reasons to send a professional email, but when it comes to writing one, you can always fall back on the same method. Whether long or short, most written communications follow this same basic structure, meaning that you can follow the steps below to craft a clear and concise message every time. In the following table, we breakdown the key sections of a professional email with example formulas.
“Dear xxxxxxx” or “Dear Mr/Mrs Jones” - when your relationship is formal.
“To Whom it may concern” or “Dear Sirs/Madam”- If you don’t know the person’s name.
Using “hi” or “hello” is too informal.
Thanking the recipient
When you reply to an email you should say “thanks in some way”. It makes you appear more polite and put the reader at ease.
“Thank you for contacting XXX company”
“Thank you for your prompt reply”
“Thank you for the email”
“Thanks for getting back to me” - here you can also add “so quickly”
Stating your purpose
“I am writing to enquire about……..”
“I am writing in reference to………”
“On the subject of your previous email……….”
It is polite to thank the reader again.
“Thank you for your patience and consideration.”
“Thank you for your consideration.”
“If you have any questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to let me know.”
“I look forward to hearing from you.”
Closing the email
Adding a closing before you name.
Professional and formal options are -
Using “cheers” and “thanks” is too informal.
This might seem like a lot to remember to include in your professional emails, so another strategy is to remember what you should not include instead.
The number one rule here is: avoid inappropriate informalities at all cost. We’ve already looked at the importance of politeness and gauging the level of formality in your written communications because those things can be of crucial importance. However, even if you’re not entirely sure on how to best phrase your email or which politeness formula is most appropriate, we advise always erring on the side of caution and avoiding risky informalities (such as first names, abbreviations, or exclamation marks).
Professional emails are about business, and even if you get along well with someone, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to share information about your personal life. Don’t include information about your family or what you did at the weekend unless it’s really relevant.
Many of us can clock up tens or even hundreds of emails in a day, so it can be easy to get a little lost in our inbox. However, when it comes to potentially delicate matters of business, remember not to include unnecessary or even inappropriate recipients in the ‘To’ field. Taking a few seconds to double check you haven’t included a client in an email thread about the pricing of a service could end up saving you face and money.
A professional email is like most other types of important written communications: if you want to do it well, it requires consideration and precision. The messages you send to colleagues and clients are a reflection of you and your company, so take a minute before you press send to check off our top tips for writing the perfect professional email in English.
First things first: have a purpose. The only good type of professional email is the one that actually needs to be sent. If you’re wondering what the purpose of your email is, the likelihood is you don’t need to write it in the first place. If, however, you do have a clear purpose: put it at the center of what you write. Get to the point and stay there.
Putting content aside, show some respect. Whether you’re replying to one of a hundred customers, writing to the CEO, or sending a memo to your colleagues, always remember to show the appropriate level of respect. Just because you’re on good terms with someone, that doesn’t mean a “please” or “thank you” can be omitted.
When it comes to professional emailing in English, there are lots of dos and don’ts, but one thing we can tend to forget in the rules of it all is being yourself. Work communications are important and should be taken seriously, but it also works in your favour to show that you’re not a robot. There’s no harm in showing a little personality if you follow our first two tips.
Thank you for the email following up about the change in contract. I have spoken with HR and the adjustments in job title, salary, and benefits have been completed. I have attached the new contract for your consideration.
Could you please review it and get back to me by 5pm on Thursday 15th June?
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing in response to your job posting for the “Country Manager” role on LinkedIn.
Please find attached my CV and a covering letter, outlining my motivations to join your team and the reasons why I am an excellent candidate for this position.
If you have any queries regarding my application, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
As you navigate the challenges of writing good professional emails in English, it’s important to be able to recognize what differentiates formal and informal writing styles. Let’s look at a few elements that make up formal and informal writing.
Informal writing often includes:
Abbreviations, such as “ASAP” to mean “as soon as possible”
Informal vocabulary, such as “cheers” instead of “thank you”
Informal punctuation, such as exclamation marks
A more fluid structure, such as omitting the “to” and “from” sections
Formal writing should include:
A set structure, including a greeting, paragraphs, and a closing
Appropriate titles and greetings, such as “Mr” or “Ms”, “Dear”, and “Yours sincerely”
Accurate grammar with no oral shortcuts, such as “The client whom I contacted” instead of “The client who I contacted”
We’ve given you the building blocks to get started with writing your own professional emails in English in this article, but what about if you want to take things a step further? GlobalExam can help with that.
As well as having a comprehensive e-learning platform with vocabulary and grammar exercises to perfect your English, we’ve launched a virtual lesson tool for students to benefit from one-on-one and group tuition.
Virtual lessons with one of our TESOL-qualified teachers are a fantastic way to consolidate your learning and prepare yourself for face-to-face interactions in the business world. If you’re looking to develop your professional email writing skills, we suggest booking an individual 30-minute lesson.
An individual virtual lesson on GlobalExam allows you to choose what you study with your teacher, and to benefit from one-to-one focus and feedback.
GlobalExam has now expanded into the world of business and professional English. We can now support learners who wish to study to get ahead in the workplace, no matter what type of business area you work in. Being able to increase your ability to communicate in English, in a professional manner, is a huge advantage in the business world. Our courses cover skills and career pathways. Targeted language studying will definitely help you achieve your goals faster.
Each course is made up of different skill parts. These are short chunks of learning, about 15 minutes long, that you can fit into your busy schedule. It is scenario based learning with real-life work situations, so you can really relate and immerse yourself into the learning. The dashboard also gives you the freedom to change your career or skill area you are currently studying. You can also change your level if you need to. Take our business English course.
You can choose to practise Business English on a specific topic, not related to any job in particular: