How to write a business email in English
In many English speaking businesses, email is the main form of communication. Here are some quick English language tips to help you write professional emails.
Who to Include
- To - for people who the email is addressing and who may need to respond
- CC (Carbon Copy) - people who also need to see your email
- BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) – people who you want to see your email, but who you don't want others to see. This is secretive and needs to be used with caution.
Note: Unless it's important that everyone reads your response, avoid using Reply All when responding to a group email. This is a quick and easy route to irritating people!
It is important that your subject line states exactly what your email is about, but is not the entire email. Keep it short.
- Good: Marketing Meeting Agenda
- Bad: A copy of the marketing meeting agenda for next Tuesday. Please can you take a look.
In most workplaces, basic fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman and Calibri are used. You should normally use black font color. Don’t use unusual fonts and colors until you are sure this is acceptable!
Starting the Email
If you are writing an email to someone who is outside of your company, it is best to start with:
- Dear Sir/Madam
- Dear Mr/Miss/Mrs (last name)
- To whom it may concern
If you are writing an email to another colleague, it is best to start with:
- Dear (first name)
- Hello (first name)
Body of the Email
The length of an email depends on the message. Generally:
- Use paragraphs and break up text regularly. This makes your message easy to read.
- If you have a question or key message, do not hide it in the middle of your email. Mention it early and make it clear
- Write in a professional tone. Be careful when making jokes or funny comments, as some jokes do not translate to different cultures. Something that may be funny in New Zealand might not be in England!
- Short is better. Do not write your whole life story in an email. The longer the email, the less likely it is your recipient will read it all.
Ending the Email
Any of these endings (or salutations) are considered professional and are acceptable.
- Sincerely, ________
- Best Wishes, ________
- Best Regards, ________
When sending to someone who is within your company, or that you have a more comfortable business relationship with, you may end an email with:
- Many Thanks, ________
We hope these tips help you write better business emails in English. You can learn more about business English by taking a course with Kaplan!
Are email "rules" different for your country or language? Tell us in the comments!