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Learning Objectives:

  • Introducing the learner to writing formal professional emails.
  • Identifying the elements of emails.
  • Writing appropriate content for formal emails.
  • Proper formatting for official emails.
  • Some dos and don’ts for senders of official emails.
  • Activities to facilitate the writing of effective emails.

What is email?

Email stands for electronic mail. It is a method of transmitting data, text files, digital photos, and audio and video files from one computer to another through the internet. Despite being a relatively recent invention, email has become indispensable for business communication.

The primary reasons for this are:

  • Email facilitates almost instant communication all over the world.
  • It is a free or low-cost means of communication.
  • It is accessible from any computer with an internet connection.
  • It enables easy transfer of large amounts of data.
  • It can be easily sent to multiple recipients.
  • Email messages can be drafted and edited easily without having to re-write or print them.

Point added for a correct answer:  
Points for a wrong answer:
Ignore the questions' coefficients:

1. The e in email stands for


2. Which of the following is a requirement for sending emails?

Large amounts of data.
A computer with internet connection.
Audio,video and digital files.
Multiple recipients.

Your score is 0 / 0

Elements of an email

A typical e-mail consists of the following essential elements (though they may differ slightly across various service providers):

1. The “to” field – this contains the e-mail address of the recipient.

2. The “subject line” – this is a brief pointer about the core idea of the email.

3. The “body” – this contains the actual text written in the e-mail.

4. Attachments – these are files of data that can be sent along with the e-mail; they may include text, photographs and audio-visual files.

5. The “cc” and “bcc” fields – to enable sending of the same message to multiple recipients.

Take a quiz here

Before writing an email

Before you write an email, you need to answer these questions:

  • The purpose of writing – Why am I writing this message?
  • The desired outcome – What do I expect as the result of this message?

Purpose of writing emails

In a professional context, emails are usually written for three purposes:

  • Giving information: e.g. ‘A meeting of all Customer Response Executives will be held on Friday at 10 a.m.’
  • Asking for information: e.g. ‘ Please send me the progress report of your project for this quarter’
  • Requesting action: e.g. ‘Could you call the clients and fix up the timing for our meeting next week?’

Besides these, emails could also be written for maintaining goodwill e.g. birthday greetings or festive greetings.

Writing the subject line

Most professionals receive a large number of emails every day. Very often, a quick glance at the subject line

helps them determine the importance of the message and sometimes whether the message will even be read.

So it is important for you to ensure that your subject lines are properly written.

Every e-mail you write should have a subject line. An email with a blank subject line

can be confusing for the recipient. It may also indicate carelessness on the part of the sender.

Subject lines should be like newspaper headlines: crisp, concise and containing the important idea

in the message.

Consider this subject line: Meeting for an email which reads:

Dear Ms. Nayar

We had scheduled a meeting on Friday 10th January at 10 a.m. to discuss the restructuring of your team.

The meeting has been rescheduled for Monday 13th January at the same time.


Suresh Varma

The subject line"Meeting"is vague because it does not tell Ms. Nayar which meeting is being referred to.

Nor does it give her any idea about the content.

She will have to open the email and read it to find out what it is about.

A more specific subject line would read

"Fri 10th Jan. meeting rescheduled "

Take a quiz here

EOM or End of Message

Sometimes the subject line can itself become the message if the message is very brief. Writing EOM

at the end of such messages tells the receiver that s/he need not open the email. This is quite useful

for sending reminders.

e.g. Self-appraisal deadline 20th December EOM

Take a quiz here

Point added for a correct answer:  
Points for a wrong answer:
Ignore the questions' coefficients:

1. Should you send emails without a subject line?


2. A good subject line is brief.


3. A message with EOM at the end of the subject line need not be opened.


Your score is 0 / 0

Writing the salutation

Every email should begin with a salutation, particularly if the recipient is someone outside the organization.

The salutation should contain the recipient’s title, name and surname.

Dear Dr. Ajish Bargode,
Dear Ms. Vibhuti Panchal,

For internal communication i.e. for emails exchanged within the organization, salutations may be less formal or may be avoided altogether.

Hello Shashikala
Dear Mishra

Writing the body of the email

In order to write a good email:

Be focussed

A good email should contain only one core theme. This not only helps the recipient to deal with the information;

it also makes storage and retrieval of messages easier. If we want to convey information related to two different topics,

it is better to send two separate emails.

Be concise

Convey only necessary information. Repetitions, long explanations and excessively formal phrases should be avoided.

Brevity saves time for both the sender and the recipient and ideas are conveyed quickly and accurately.

Be correct

Use correct spellings and grammar. Use appropriate vocabulary. The facts, figures and other data sent via email

should be properly verified. Careful attention should be paid to the correctness of names, designations, addresses and so on.

Be clear

The content of an e-mail should be simple and easy to understand. While writing to a person who may not know you personally,

it is important to include a brief introduction. Vague information can only create confusions and misunderstandings.

Take a Be clear quiz here

Use a proper tone

An email is not as formal as a business letter; it is somewhat more direct and conversational in tone. We must maintain professional

formality in our writing style. First person pronouns and direct requests are permissible.

I believe that…
Could you send me the data right away?

Yet, an overly friendly or casual tone should be avoided.

Emails exchanged by team-mates or members of the same organization are often more casual than those sent to outsiders like dealers or clients.

Formatting the body of your email

1. Choose an appropriate font and font size for your emails. Avoid using too many fonts in a single email. It is, however,

acceptable to use different fonts and font sizes to indicate headings and the body of the text.


Take an editing quiz here

2. The text should be neatly spaced out into paragraphs to maintain readability. Paragraphs contain distinct ideas but

they should be linked together by connectors like Also, My second suggestion, As a result, Another, Finally and so on.

3. Bullet points should be used wherever possible.

4. As far as possible, try to limit your text to a single page view; if the reader has to scroll down, it means that your email

is rather long. Long email messages may not be read completely or may not be read at all.

5. Graphics and animation are used to make messages colourful and lively but this is frowned upon in official communication.

Use simple text and avoid fancy effects.

6. ALL CAPS are perceived as shouting and it is thus rude to write an email using all caps. Avoid using short forms and abbreviations as far as possible though some of them are becoming acceptable in internal communication.

IMHO – In my honest opinion or AFAIK – as far as I know.

7. Make sure that names of people are spelled correctly and proper titles are used. Research has proved that

nothing annoys people more than seeing their name misspelt.

Signature line

The signature line in an email usually contains the name of the sender. To make it more specific, the sender’s designation

and company name could also be included. Telephone numbers should be provided so that the recipient can call the sender

for immediate clarifications.

Prof. Raksh Zakaria
Department of Botany
Noronha College
91-22-2677 4411

A default signature line can be saved so that you need not type your signature in each email; it will automatically appear

at the end of the body of the message.

Polite closing

External emails are usually concluded with a polite closing such as:

Best / Kind / Warm regards
Yours faithfully
Thanks and regards
All the best

Take an e-mail editing quiz here
Another editing quiz

Sending attachments

  • Send attachments only when necessary. Do not clog up the recipient’s inbox with unnecessary attachments.
  • Ensure that attachments are in a format that is accessible to the recipient. For example, a .docx file cannot be opened

    by someone who is using .doc on their computer.

Privacy and Security

  • Official email should not be used for sending or receiving personal messages. Many companies have a policy

restricting the use of their email service for personal purposes. Official email ids can be accessed by the authorities

through system administrators. Hence it is best to avoid writing any personal matters or anything against the company

or its employees using the official email service.

  • Email accounts are perceived as secure because they are protected using passwords. However, these passwords can be

easily hacked by hackers or even criminals to gain access to your data. Sending confidential or sensitive information

via email is not secure unless you use special encryption and data protection methods available for the same.


Language in an email - some dos and don'ts

  • Language in an email should be simple and direct, yet formal. Use of first person pronouns like I, we is permitted.
  • Avoid long, complicated sentences and excessive formality.

[math]\times[/math] The documents attached by you provide evidence of the correctness of your claim and are

under consideration by the authorities.

[math]\surd[/math] The documents you have attached support your claim; they are being considered by the authorities.

  • Use the correct tense.

…ing should be used only for actions that are actually in progress and not for stating facts.

[math]\surd[/math] We are considering the offer.

[math]\times[/math] I am not having the documents.

[math]\surd[/math] I do not have the documents.

  • Eliminate redundancy.

[math]\times[/math] The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

[math]\surd[/math] The meeting will be held at 2 p.m.


[math]\surd[/math] The meeting will be held at 2 in the afternoon.


*Avoid jargon.

[math]\times[/math] We are beginning to perceive a need for more comprehensive practice activities among the student community.

[math]\surd[/math] Students need more comprehensive practice activities.


  • Use active voice.

[math]\times[/math] Self-appraisal reports will be screened by an independent external observer.

[math]\surd[/math] An independent external observer will screen self-appraisal reports.

  • Be politically correct and gender neutral.
[math]\times[/math] The customer can redeem his loyalty points during the first 10 days of each month. [math]\surd[/math] The customer can redeem his / her loyalty points during the first 10 days of each month. Or [math]\surd[/math] Customers can redeem their loyalty points during the first 10 days of each month.
  • Look out for commonly-occurring spelling errors. Many email services offer an in-built spelling and grammar check

which can be activated through the settings.




  • Proofread your email before hitting the “send” button. Emails once sent cannot be retrieved hence it is better

to make sure that they are error-free before sending them.

Complete the email Quiz [here]

Receiving email

  • Check your email inbox regularly.
  • Reply to emails as promptly as possible. If you require time to research or prepare a detailed reply,

send a ‘holding’ reply. Acknowledge the receipt of the email and indicate the time when you will send the details.

  • If you are going to be unable to read and reply to emails, use the automatic response service to keep

the sender informed when to expect a reply.

Take another editing quiz