The way you start the email sets the tone of the message and builds the recipient’s first impression of you. Unfortunately, many don’t pay enough attention to it. What’s the proper way to start my email then? Well, it depends. The appropriate greeting for your email can be formal or friendly, depending on who you communicate with and your purpose.
10 Powerful Tips for Writing an Effective Email
There’s a difference between writing an email and writing a truly effective email. Brushing up on your email writing skills can be the difference between getting a prompt, favorable response or a swift deletion. Boost your email skills with these 10 powerful tips and you’ll be on your way to crafting effective messages that get results.
When writing an email, it’s important to use an informed, detailed subject line. When a reader sees the subject line, the wording should immediately reveal what the message is about. It should also be relevant enough to the content of the message that it includes a term the recipient would be likely to search for if it becomes necessary to find the email again. This can determine whether readers open your message and if they’ll be able to find it later, both of which are important for effective email messages.
Avoid attachments .
Rather than forcing you reader to download an attachment and open it in a separate program, you will probably get faster results if you just copy-paste the most important part of the document into the body of your message.
If you telephoned someone outside your closest circle, someone who probably wouldn’t recognize your voice, you would probably say something like “Hello, Ms. Wordsworth, this is Sally Griffin.” A formal “Dear Ms. Wordsworth” salutation is not necessary for routine workplace communication.
|To: Professor Blinderson
From: [email protected]
Subject: [Blank]Yo goin 2 miss class whats the homework
|Professor Blinderson will probably reply, “Please let me know your name and which class you’re in, so that I can respond meaningfully. I don’t recognize the address [email protected]”|
|To: Professor Blinderson
From: [email protected]
Subject: EL227 Absence, Oct 10Hello, Prof. Blinderson. This is Morris Ponsybil, from EL227 section 2.This morning, I just found out that the curling team has advanced to the playoffs, so I’m going to be out of town on the 10th.According to the syllabus, it looks like I will miss a paper workshop and the discussion of Chapter 10. May I email you my Chapter 10 discussion questions before I leave town? And could I come to your office hour at 2pm on the 12th, in order to discuss the paper? I’ve asked Cheryl Jones to take notes for me.Thank you very much. I’ll see you in class tomorrow.
|If you are asking the other person to do you a favor, providing the right information will give him or her a good reason to decide in your favor. In this case, Morris Ponsybil shows his professor he cares enough about the class to propose a solution to the problem his absence will cause.|
Even if you already have a connection with the person you are contacting, a little context is helpful. Every fall, I get emails from “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” who ask a question about “class” and don’t sign their real names.
If you are following up on a face-to-face contact, you might appear too timid if you assume your recipient doesn’t remember you; but you can drop casual hints to jog their memory: “I enjoyed talking with you about usability testing in the elevator the other day.”
While formal phrases such as “Dear Professor Sneedlewood” and “Sincerely Yours,” are unnecessary in email, when contacting someone outside your own organization, you should write a signature line that includes your full name and at least a link to a blog or online profile page (something that does not require your recipient to log in first).
Respond Prompt ly.
If you want to appear professional and courteous, make yourself available to your online correspondents. Even if your reply is, “Sorry, I’m too busy to help you now,” at least your correspondent won’t be waiting in vain for your reply.
While most people know that email is not private, it is good form to ask the sender before forwarding a personal message. If someone emails you a request, it is perfectly acceptable to forward the request to a person who can help — but forwarding a message in order to ridicule the sender is tacky.
Use BCC instead of CC when sending sensitive information to large groups. (For example, a professor sending a bulk message to students who are in danger of failing, or an employer telling unsuccessful applicants that a position is no longer open.) The name of everyone in the CC list goes out with the message, but the names of people on the BCC list (“blind carbon copy”) are hidden. Put your own name in the “To” box if your mail editor doesn’t like the blank space.
Be tolerant of other people’s etiquette blunders. If you think you’ve been insulted, quote the line back to your sender and add a neutral comment such as, “I’m not sure how to interpret this… could you elaborate?”
But before reading her second message, I replied at length to the first. Once I learned that there was no need for any reply, I worried that my response would seem pompous, so I followed up with a quick apology:
What I meant to say was “[I] should have looked more carefully at my[list of incoming] email [before replying],” but I could tell from my colleague’s terse reply that she had interpreted it as if I was criticizing her.
If I hadn’t responded so quickly to the first message, I would have saved myself the time I spent writing a long answer to an obsolete question. If I hadn’t responded so quickly to the second message, I might not have alienated the person I had been so eager to help. –DGJ
Decide on the best way to sign off the email
Considering that your email greeting gives the ever-important first impression of yourself to the recipient, your sign-off dictates what kind of taste your message leaves in their mouth. Deciding on the best way to end your email can be time-consuming as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, overlooking the importance of the sign-off is like stumbling on the finish line.
The most common examples of email sign-offs are:
The best way to sign off an email always depends on the recipient, your relationship with them, and your email’s purpose. Choosing the right one for each context requires a bit of further reading. For that purpose, we have written a comprehensive guide on best email sign-offs from the most formal ones to those not suitable for the office.
Check your spelling
Incorrect spelling indicates carelessness and can destroy all the thought and effort you put into making your email better. Spelling checkers like Grammarly are great, but they won’t catch everything and, at times, fail to read into the context. That’s why you must train yourself to pick up the errors yourself.
Flowrite is an AI writing tool that turns short instructions into ready-to-send emails and messages in seconds. It takes care of the email structure, capitalization, grammar, spelling, punctuation – you name it. The emails our tool generates are native-level English, so you don’t have to worry about that either. Essentially you can focus on your thoughts and ideas, and Flowrite will give them wings. We dare to say that it’s the fastest way to start writing better emails, and many of our users have said that they have learned a lot by using it.
To get started, write a couple short sentences your email could consist of. Don’t worry too much about the phrasing or grammar, but aim to jot down thoughts as they naturally come out of your head. After this, you are ready for the next step.
How to use Flowrite
1. Write short bullet points as instructions
2. Choose the type of email you want to write
Now is time to consider who’s the recipient and what you are trying to achieve with the email? Perhaps you are cold contacting a potential hire, following up on a sales lead, or scheduling a meeting. We got it all covered.
3. Witness AI to generate your email
Now it’s time for some magic. After selecting the suitable template, you take it easy for a couple of seconds it takes for Flowrite to generate a fully-fledged email based on your instructions. In case you are dissatisfied with the outcome, it will create a new version with a click of a button. If you trust your email writing skills better, you can also make manual changes before sending the email.
This is possible thanks to our use of the latest advancement in artificial intelligence. If you are still not convinced that it can help you compose better emails, let’s forget the instructions altogether and let Flowrite write the whole email for you.
You are starting to catch up on how to write better emails already, right? We hope that these email writing tips (and perhaps our tool) could get you started on your journey to send better emails with confidence and build trust in your email writing skills.
Want to learn how to end an email? Discover professional email sign-offs and learn the email closings to keep away from. By the time you’ve done reading you’ve learned all ways to end an email you need to know.
Email writing tips
An effective email closing includes a closing phrase and identifies the sender. Just as there are formal and informal email salutations, there are also formal and informal email closings. The type of closing you choose depends on the target audience for your email.
Use the Right Email Subject Line
This a bad subject line. It’s vague. The words "important email" don’t tell the reader anything about the email. Also, it’s misleading. If the reader opened the email, they’d see that they won’t get $100 unless they win a contest. Finally, the three exclamation points at the end of the subject line make this subject line look spammy.
Rather than the vague phrase, "important email," the second subject line tells the reader that this email lists new features for XYZ—a product they own. And the phrase in parenthesis makes it clear that the $100 is a prize.
Common email writing mistakes (and what to do instead)
1 Omitting necessary Oxford commas
The Oxford comma can be somewhat polarizing when thinking about how to write a proper email, depending on which style guide is utilized for professional communications in your industry —it’s usually either shunned or hailed as a tool for clarification. Either way, a lot of people have strong opinions about it. But leaving them out can lead to confusion, depending on the sentence.
Just like a healthy marriage, AP style calls for clear communication. We also believe in the value of compromise. So as a reminder, the Stylebook doesn’t prohibit all Oxford commas. If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma. https://t.co/vGsuRrwpQW
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) August 15, 2018
What to do instead: While the Oxford comma may not be suitable in certain contexts, it’s usually a good idea to use them in emails. That’s because it can help you save time and avoid miscommunication, confusion, and even legal trouble.
Grammarly users know that when it comes to hedging, it’s better to omit it than leave it in, especially in emails. And if you’re worried about coming off as impolite, don’t be: Contrary to popular belief, hedging language makes you sound less confident, which can ultimately undermine your writing.
3 Extremely long and/or unclear copy
Would you read an email that was 1,000 words long? Probably not—most people skim emails that are on the long side. And if you add hard-to-follow sentences or mixed messages, to your draft, you’re even less likely to get a satisfactory response. (Or any response.)
“I get a ton of [emails] that are just these huge blocks of text. And I understand why they do that—so you have enough detail. But it’s really hard to read and I’m not going to read the whole thing,” says Kat Boogaard, a Wisconsin-based freelance writer.
What to do instead: Keep it concise and focus on the matter at hand. Then end with a call to action, a requested response date, and make it clear that you’re open to questions and follow-ups (if that’s the case).
4 Being too casual (or formal)
Depending on your circumstances, wavering too much to the casual or formal side of writing can be a misstep. Being overly casual is often seen as a rookie mistake, but stiff, formal language can also be detrimental to your message.
What to do instead: In striking the perfect balance between formal and casual, the key is thinking about the relationship between yourself and the recipient and take social cues as your communication progresses.
“You kind of want to see what someone else is doing and participate, play along, sort of acknowledge the way communication develops and the way expectations in a relationship develop,” says Dan Post Senning, an etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute.
“Be careful in new relationships. The intelligent use of emoticons in emails can help you be more understood. At the same time, a lot of people will read it as unprofessional, so until you’ve established that relationship, you want to be careful with how you use it. Take care and think about it,” says Post Senning.
Not all email cliches are cardinal sins. Certain aspects of your emails are bound to be a little formulaic. After all, most emails have the same basic structure, and there are phrases that you may use to ensure clarity or cover your bases. But if you’re going to repeat phrases, make sure they have a clear purpose.
What to do instead: Try reading the draft for cliches, tone, and voice to more effectively communicate your message while keeping the reader engaged. Ask yourself: If your boss (or mom) read this email, would you be happy with it? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track.
What to do instead: Try reading your draft out loud, using the text-to-speech function on your phone, or running it by a colleague before sending it off. Grammarly can also help you catch these repeated or overused words.
7 Robotic language
Email may be a descendant of snail mail, but that doesn’t mean your messages should sound like an old-timey version of yourself. In fact, emails should sound like the person who is writing it. So using phrases that sound like something out of a Victorian novel isn’t the best move if you want to connect with the reader.
“Let’s face it: Nobody wants to read a college textbook. You want to read a blog or an article or a real conversation. They’re a person, they’re not a robot. So use language that sounds like something you would say if you’re just sitting in a coffee shop,” says copy chief Schafer.
Next-level email writing moves
Once you’ve got the proper email format and you know what mistakes to avoid, it’s time to focus on making your drafts stand out from the myriad emails most people get every day. Here are four strategies to take yours to the next level:
“In the absence of other information, our interpretation often defaults to the negative,” explains communication-etiquette expert Post Senning. “When you’re talking about negative communication, you’re [missing] the information that is tone of voice, the twinkle in your eye, the good humor that you intend something with or even the genuine care or concern with which you’re offering critique. So be really careful. When something reads as negative to you, it probably comes across as even more negative to someone else.”
Strike the right tone
You wouldn’t want to get an email that reads, “Dear [client],” or which references your work in public relations when you’re actually in sales, because it would immediately show that the sender is either mass emailing you, or they didn’t do the proper research and find the right contact. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that every email you send has a tone that’s crafted specifically for the recipient, and that you’re sending it to the right person.
So even though it may be tempting to use templates, it’s important to personalize it and keep in mind the communication style of the recipient before hitting send. To accomplish this, a quick Google search or a peek at the recipient’s LinkedIn or Twitter feed can do wonders.
Before sending, try putting yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a gut-check on tone and content. And if you have a hard time reading your own tone in email, Grammarly’s tone detector can help you determine how you sound to your recipient.
Follow up—in good time
If you’re sending an email, you’re likely looking for a timely response. But with the large amounts of emails most people sort through each day, things can end up getting lost. As a general rule, a follow-up message should never come less than twenty-four hours after sending the initial email.
In other words: Don’t be the person who sends a follow-up request two hours after sending. In extreme cases, that kind of behavior can even get you blocked. “When you’re taking more time and actually caring about the person on the other side of the email, you’re immediately going to see a much higher response rate. I had to learn that the hard way,” says copy chief Schafer.
Make it easy on the eyes
Most of the messages you send will likely be on the shorter side, which is great for rapid responses and getting things done. But for longer emails, scannability is the name of the game. That’s when things like bolded font, bullet points, underlined sentences, and a TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) section come in handy.
“I think people feel this pressure that you need to be this perfect communicator with this huge vocabulary and these perfectly structured sentences. And I don’t know that that’s always the case because you’re just two people, communicating,” says freelance writer Boogaard.
Hack #6: Why follow-up is more important
Nothing is more frustrating than sending a well-crafted and written email – only to receive no reply! Don’t hesitate to email them back. Follow-ups are crucial to get the recipient’s attention and call them out what needs to be taken next. A great follow-up email gets the other user on track and back on the keyboard to write a response. Here are some great templates that you may use to get started.
Make it easy for other people to review your emails by keeping everything organized. Don’t just write them in paragraph form. Identify opportunities to make everything concise and scannable. Use bulletpoints, subheadings and white space to give bigness to certain words and phrases. Draw attention to important deadlines and action points by using highlights, font colors, bold or underlines.
This is the main part of the email where you mention the core content or purpose of the email. Ensure that you write the core email content in clear short sentences. Avoid unwanted jargon, or too technical/industry-specific terms in the very first email, when you are not sure about the recipient’s knowledge in those areas. If you are reaching out, based on research or if someone has recommended this contact, make sure you mention that in the email. This will help the reader understand the context of the email better. If you have a lot to say, it would be better to communicate the main and important items in the first email and save the rest for later.
How to Write Better Emails at Work
Is writing a bad email going to ruin your career? No. But learning the unspoken rules for writing professional emails can improve how competent you appear in the eyes of your colleagues. In this HBR collaboration with YouTube creator Jeff Su, you’ll learn how to better organize your email communications and avoid typical rookie mistakes.
0:00 — Why bother with email etiquette?
1:19 — Include a call to action in subject line
2:13 — One email thread per topic
2:48 — Manage recipients
3:27 — Start with the main point
4:30 — Summarize in your reply
5:10 — Hyperlink whenever possible
5:38 — Change default setting to “Reply” (not “Reply all”)
6:06 — Change undo send options
JEFF SU: OK, real talk. Making email etiquette mistakes in the workplace — it’s not going to capsize your career. But learning the unspoken rules of writing professional emails will affect how competent you are perceived to be in the eyes of your colleagues.
And since there are no standardized training courses for this, in this video, I’m going to first share the very real benefits of getting good at emailing in the workplace, then dive into my top eight tips for professional email etiquette, many of which I learned the hard way during my first full-time job as a management consultant. So let’s get started.
Hi, everyone. My name is Jeff, and I’m truly honored to be able to partner with Harvard Business Review for this video about a nerdy passion of mine: Email etiquette in the workplace. Think back to the last time you received a poorly written email. You might have had to reread it a few times to get the main point, and the action items might have been scattered all over the place.
Worst-case scenario, it led to an unnecessarily long back and forth email thread that could have been avoided had the initial email been properly planned out. Therein lies the beauty of well-crafted emails. Not only does it help you, the sender, come across as more capable by showcasing strong communication skills, but it also saves the reader so much of their time by only surfacing information relevant to them.
So without further ado, my first step is to have a call to action, when appropriate, in the email subject line. Most of us are familiar with a generic “action required” in subject lines, right? My recommendation is just to take it a step further and include exactly what you need the recipient to do and the estimated time it takes for them to do it.
For example, instead of writing “Action required, feedback for project X,” write “Five minutes — survey feedback for project X,” instead. This very small trick gives you a lot more context. It’s a survey for project X. I can get it done very quickly in between the two meetings I have. Or if it’s not appropriate to include the estimated time, be specific about the call to action. For example, instead of “spending estimates for Q4,” write “Elon to approve spending estimates for Q4.” So Elon knows what’s expected of him even before he opens the email.
Step number two: Stick with one email thread for the same topic. I’m going to be honest, I got called out for this by a colleague of mine, but I’m glad she told me. Basically, I used to send out separate emails for the same project whenever I had a new idea or follow-up question. But if you think about it from the recipient’s point of view, they’re missing the context from the original email thread and multiple new emails on the same topic just clog up their inboxes unnecessarily. So the general rule of thumb here is to stick to the original email chain for any given topic so everyone can refer to the same information.
Email etiquette tip number three: Explain why you added in or took out recipients in email threads. There are many situations you have to add someone in to the email thread to get their input, or take someone out to spare their inbox. A professional and easy way to do this is to add a sentence at the very top of the email clearly showing who you added in or took out. I like to add parentheses and italicize the font to separate it from the actual email body. This way, the readers know who the new recipients are immediately.
Tip number four actually addresses a very big pet peeve of mine, which is when senders include a lot information up front, but what they’re really trying to get at or ask for is at the very end of the email. To avoid that, always include your main point first, followed by the context. Just compare these two emails:
“Hi Jane, my name is Jeff and I’m in the product marketing team. We’re preparing a forecast deck for the big boss and he’s looking for the revenue projection numbers for the secret electric car that’s launching soon. Can I trouble you to pull that data for me?”
Top 15 Email Writing Tips For All Businesses
First, you need to understand the set of target audiences and the objective of the email campaigns for preparing clear, concise and actionable email content. You need to craft a compelling subject line in six to eight words.
The pitch of the formal email should be professional and courteous. Kick-start the email on a positive note to create a good impression. Ensure to make the message of the email grammatically correct. Hire someone to proofread your piece of content.
In the last couple of years, if you are writing only casual emails, then brush up your skills for creating a proper email. It would help to improve the conversion rates and increase the click-through and open rates. Many professionals struggle to scribble formal emails.
Formal emails consist of a basic structure with an attractive short and concise subject line, exciting opening and compelling closing copy. You have to format the email by using a professional email address, font, context, and proper salutation. Avoid mistakes like long and unclear content with grammatical errors. Ensure the email doesn’t contain insensitive information.
Anatomy of a good email writing tips
Does that make sense? The subject line gives a prediction of whether subscribers would engage with the email or not. All your efforts go in vain when subscribers ignore your email with a dull subject line. Formal emails have different categories of writing patterns.
1. Craft attractive, and clear subject line:
Email subject line creates the first impression on subscribers. If you want users to open your email newsletter, then craft beautiful subject lines to improve the open rates.
However, 47% of marketers test different subject lines to optimise email performances. So, it’s essential to create compelling subject lines to force the recipients to click through the newsletter. If inboxes get clogged by thousands of emails, it’s necessary to prepare attractive subject lines to help your newsletter stand out.
You can use the one-word subject line to involve an ultra minimalistic approach in the campaign. Using numbers and lists are more comfortable for recipients to process the brain for a quick and easy read.
You should send emails through the company’s email address for internal and external communication. Your email address should get linked up with your real name, not with your nickname. Don’t miss to use hyphens, underscores or periods to secure the email address. Avoid using extra numbers or letters in the email address.
First, make a goal to fulfil an expected outcome from the email campaigns. If you don’t know why you are writing the email, then it is difficult to achieve the defined result. Setting up clear email marketing goals give a proper direction to the campaign and make it easier for the general audiences. Keep the goal simple to avoid any confusion.
Hitting the right tone for your email campaigns ensure to reach out to the subscribers in a meaningful way. Write three emails in three different tones to experiment for understanding the right one. You can stay consistent in the tone to build the credibility of your brands. If you want to stand out in the crowded inbox of your subscribers, then you have to create a highly recognisable tone to attract the right set of audiences through emotions.
The first few lines of your email copy should be interesting to compel them to read the full text. If the subscriber opens your email and finds the first few lines boring, they would stop reading and close the email. Customers would understand from the first few lines that you have something to sell. So, solid opening lines encourage them to take a few more minutes of their day to read the whole copy.
After creating the strong subject lines, you have to craft the strong email salutation. If you mention the main points concisely, readers can scan without struggling much. You can make a list of the features so that readers can have a glance; don’t miss to explain those features in detail to give more information to the recipients.
Ensure to add benefits in your email copy, many subscribers may not be aware why your brand is essential for them. Readers are more interested in scanning mail where they can see the benefits. Many recipients would find your email relevant due to the benefit of your brand.
We are living in a customer-centric market and subscribers like personalised content, and it improves the click-through rates and conversion rates. Relevant content is the main cornerstone of personalised content by using the subscriber’s first name in the email.
Subheads help the readers to absorb the message quickly and grasp the main points effortlessly. Subtitles are essential like headlines and offer a scannable reading for the subscribers. Readers are in a hurry so that they can understand the email with the help of subheads.
It’s important to include professional images or Gifs along with engaging content to capture the readers’ attention. You can take pictures or Gifs from Shutterstock, Canva, Envato, iStock and many more. Keep in mind that simple animated works better than complicated ones.