A guide to writing professional emails

The average worker sends and receives almost 100 emails per day, according to US research firm, The Radicati Group. 

It’s the most common tool for business communication, but also one of the biggest sources of workplace stress.

With so many emails to go through but so little time on their hands, many professionals find themselves responding to emails in a quick but clumsy manner.

The average worker sends and receives almost 100 emails per day

Ruth Hill of Mindtools, a professional training site,  suggests that the emails you send reflect your professionalism, principles, and attention to detail.

Emails that are scattered, disorganised and filled with mistakes can make you look less professional, as well as cause miscommunication, confusion and even tension in the workplace.

When it comes to business correspondence, writing polite, concise and effective emails can help you communicate better, get your emails read and elicit a response.

Practising email etiquette can help improve your professional writing. It’s important to be courteous through email, especially if you’re writing to clients, superiors or business partners. 

Begin with a greeting and briefly introduce yourself if you’re writing to someone new.

Once you’ve composed your message, conclude your email with a signature that features your title and contact details. Make sure the size of your company logo is optimised for the email signature section.

Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert and author of ‘Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits’, told Inc. to avoid sending emails regarding lengthy negotiations, last-minute cancellations or devastating news.

Those matters should be discussed over the phone instead. “If you have an employee or a friend you need to deliver bad news to, a phone call is preferable. If it's news you have to deliver to a large group, e-mail is more practical,” Peggy says.

You might be familiar with the old KISS writing mantra: Keep it short and simple. It’s still a great method to follow when writing emails. 

Proofreading emails is a must before clicking sendKeeping your sentences concise and highlighting important details or actionable items using dot-points can help your email recipient to clearly understand the purpose of your email.

It should also help ensure your questions and actions are answered in a reply email.

Writing an attention-grabbing subject line can also increase the likelihood of your email being opened and responded to.

A good subject line helps to summarise the content as well as help recipients decide whether they to read it or not. A typical inbox shows only 60 characters of an email’s subject line, so try to be specific.

Using simple language to convey your message in six to eight words could help you get faster responses. It’s much easier to misinterpret an email because you aren’t communicating in person.

Ruth Hill believes that your choice of words, sentence length, punctuation and capitalisation set the tone and influence how people receive your message.

Keep business emails formal and avoid using abbreviations, emoticons, jargon and slang. When you’ve finished your message, conclude with "Regards," "Yours sincerely," or "All the best," depending on who you’re writing to.

Proofreading emails is a must. Before you click “send”, be sure to check your email for spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes.

You don’t want to be caught with a typo, or worse, misspelling your recipient’s name or business. Reading your message aloud can also help you refine your language or restructure your thoughts.

Responding to emails in a timely fashion can help to improve the relationship with your recipient. 
Try to respond within 24 to 48 hours, unless the matter required immediate attention. 

If you need more time to address the issue, send a quick, polite message acknowledging the email and let them know you’ll be in touch.