Writing a Professional E-Mail

With the business world’s growing reliance upon technology and computers, e-mails are quickly replacing formal letters. Hard copy documents are becoming a thing of the past, and more professionals use e-mail as a form of daily communication between coworkers as well as a means of presenting a formal request. Here are some quick tips to keep your e-mails professional and current.

Keep it Professional

Don’t be overly friendly and excited; it can easily come across as unprofessional. Refrain from using exclamation points and words with all capital letters

Make Sure to Proofread

Watch out for formatting errors; careless errors can cause you to lose credibility and potentially cause the person receiving your e-mail to not take your request seriously

Create a Clear, Searchable Subject Line

It’s important to have a subject line or the receiver might delete the e-mail. Include searchable words so that the reader can easily find it again at a later time

Send from a Professional E-mail Address

It is important to make sure every aspect of your e-mail is professional; don’t send an e-mail to a professional from a personal address or an address that looks like this: PrOfWrItROXXX@gmail.com.

Know What You Want to Say

Make sure your e-mail has a strong direction. You don’t want to seem like you’re rambling. Keep your purpose clear and stay on point. An e-mail that is all over the place can distract your reader from the intent of the e-mail.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Allow enough time in advance when sending a request. Be courteous to the receiver and give him or her enough time to both answer and process the request. If you are implementing or changing a policy procedure, it is important to give enough time to the people it affects to adjust to the change.

Avoid Large Sections of Words

Break up the paragraphs into short sections; using bullet points is an effective way to separate large paragraphs.

Avoid Abbreviations and Acronyms

Too many of these can give the impression of being unprofessional.

Keep it Short

Professionals are busy and don’t need or want to know every detail; they just need to know the essential information. Keep it as brief as possible. Although keeping it brief may seem rude, saving the reader from reading unnecessary fluff is a polite gesture. It shows that you understand your reader’s busy schedule and respect his or her time.

  • If you absolutely have to include more information, put only a few paragraphs in the e-mail and include the rest in an attachment

Be Genuine

We all understand common courtesy and maintaining a polite tone is a must when writing a professional e-mail.  Remember to use “please” and “thank you,” but be careful not to use them in the wrong context.

  • According to Ten Tips on How to Write a Professional Email by Richard Nordquist, “Thank you for understanding why afternoon breaks have been eliminated” is prissy and petty. It’s not polite.


Nordquist, Richard. “Ten Tips on How to Write a Professional Email.” About.com Grammar & Composition. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://grammar.about.com/od/developingessays/a/profemails.htm&gt;.


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