By the time you finished school, you might have perfected the art of letter writing only to find out later in college that emails are used far more frequently. So now, you are stuck with familiarising yourself with a different form of correspondence. While you can learn it through trial and error, it still helps to have some pointers, especially for tricky situations like asking for a leave from your boss. Let’s get started then, shall we?
Although the basic structure for all emails is the same, there are nuances that separate one email from the other. Let’s find out about these by discussing each element of an email:
1. Subject line
This is the first line that your recipient sees and the first impression that your email makes, so don’t skip it! Keep it simple and write a subject line that actually indicates what your email is about. Here are a few examples:
Request for a letter of recommendation
Urgent request for final approval by 5 p.m. – Use this only when your work is a high priority. If your deadline is close and you still have not received a response, you should get on a phone call or meet in person to discuss it if possible.
Internship application for the post of…
Request for leave
Thank you for the opportunity – You can use this while writing a thank you email after an interview.
Try to keep your subject line short. According to a study by Boomerang, subject lines with 3 – 4 words had the best response rate.
The greeting generally consists of a salutation and an opener.
The salutation varies depending on the context.
In a strictly formal setting such as writing to an employer, you should use the following format:
Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. (last name),
If you are not familiar with the gender of the recipient or they are gender non-conforming, you should avoid the title, and write it in the following manner:
Dear (first name) (last name),
Dear Sir or Madam is used when you are addressing your email to a specific person but do not know their name and gender. However, this is rarely used.
If you do not know whether you are addressing it to one person, you can write:
Dear (name of organisation/department) team,
In a semi-formal setting such as internal communication at your workplace, you can write the salutation as –
Hi (first name),
Once you have written the salutation, next up is the opening line which sets the tone for your email. This can vary according to your relationship with the recipient. For a formal setting, you can begin your emails with the following tried and tested openings:
I hope this email finds you well.
I am reaching out to you about…
I would like to request a leave…
Thank you for getting in touch/ Thank you for your interest.
It was nice to meet you at the animator’s conference and chat about the…
If you are initiating contact with a new person, you could begin by introducing yourself. You could also personalise your email. Research a little about them over LinkedIn or other social networks and find out about their communication style or any recent work, which struck a chord with you and is relevant to the email. This will help you in building a rapport. For example:
Such an email where you write to someone you don’t know is called a cold email. You could be doing this to expand your professional network, to seek advice from an industry expert, to pitch a business idea, or even to make a sale. It’s important that you take time to craft such emails because it primarily benefits you. You should personalise it, keep it short, and show how it can benefit the recipient if possible.
On the other hand, an email to colleague at your workplace can be written without an opening sentence, especially if you communicate regularly.
Even the most avid readers are in the habit of skimming through content today. So, keep your message concise by briefly giving your recipient all the details they need. For example, if are asking for a leave, state your reason, specify the date and time, mention how you will manage your work or make up for the missed time, and tell them how you can be contacted.
While first impressions have received a lot of fanfare, last impressions are equally important. To end things on the right note, you can use one of the following:
I look forward to hearing from you/meeting you.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Could you please let me know by Wednesday?/ It would help if you could respond by Wednesday.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I apologise for any inconvenience caused.
The closing sentence is followed by a sign-off. Please don’t leave it at ‘sent from my Android phone/iPhone’. The following are your safest bet in any situation:
Sincerely – you can use this when you are sending a cover letter or resume.
For a more casual correspondence, you can use any of these:
Kind regards/warm regards,
Your signature should consist of your name, designation, and any other information that you want your recipient to have such as your contact number, website link, LinkedIn account, etc. For example:
Herbology Teacher, Hogwarts School
To avoid the hassle of writing it in every email, you can create a signature in your email account that will be sent with every email.
Email writing tips
To ensure smooth-sailing in your correspondence, you can keep the following tips in mind –
1. Keep it concise
Our inboxes are bombarded with emails day in and day out (around 121 daily). The last thing anybody wants is an essay disguised as an email. A concise copy will make it easier for the recipient to read your email and respond. So keep your email brief without missing any key points. If you need to pass on a lot of information, you could request a meeting in your email. This shows that you are considerate about the recipient’s time.
2. Proofread your email
Once you have written your email, review it for any grammatical or spelling errors, make sure that you have attached any files that you have mentioned, and remove any repetition. This doesn’t take a lot of time and improves the readability of your email.
3. Use appropriate font
Use a font that is unlikely to change across different devices, avoid using colors, and use bold and italics sparingly. Improper formatting can be a major turn off for the reader and can even appear spammy.
4. Figure out an appropriate time to send your email
It can be disheartening to not receive a response on an email that you spent your precious time on. One of the reasons for this could be that it got buried in a sea of emails. This could happen over the weekend, during off hours, or over a vacation.
If you have already spent many anxious days waiting for a response, you could also send a polite follow-up.
1. Choose wisely between Reply and Reply to all
Reply to all is considered a faux-pas if used incorrectly. You should use it only when you want to convey your message to all recipients.
2. Use CC and BCC appropriately
There are 3 ways to send an email. The contact that you are directly addressing your email to should be in the To field. Additionally, you can use CC when you want to send a copy of the email to someone, but you are not looking for a response from them.
Lastly, there is BCC which refers to blind carbon copy. This means that the recipients cannot see each other’s email addresses. This is helpful in protecting each recipient’s privacy. You can also use BCC to politely remove someone from an email thread that is of no interest to them. For example, if your colleague has introduced you to a helpful contact, you can move your colleague to BCC by writing this:
Thank you for introducing us, Simran (moving you to BCC).
3. Avoid humour
Suppress your urge to crack any jokes because humour can be easily misinterpreted in the absence of any verbal cues.
These were a few pointers to help you become proficient in the subtle art of email writing. Remember to persevere through the trials and tribulations, and you will find yourself writing effective emails in no time! If you want to get hands-on practice, you can check out Internshala’s Business Communication Skills training. You can use coupon code BLOG10 to get a discount of 10%.
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