Writing Professional Emails



When you send an email at work, you are doing more than sharing information between yourself and another person. You are showing that person:

  • Who you are and what your company is all about.
Everything we write is a reflection of part of ourselves. In fact, even in hard news writing it is tough to completely remove your personality from the piece.

Your word choice, your tone and the angle at which you look upon the world all come through in to some degree. This is no less true in professional emails.

Before you write, answer these 4 questions.

Who is my reader?

professional emailsAm I writing to a peer? A customer? My boss? The company president? Know who your reader is so that you can tailor your language and your message accordingly.

For example, you would not reveal company secrets to a customer or vendor, but you can openly write about these same secrets in an email to your boss.

What is the purpose of my email?

Are you sharing information? Are you answering a question? Are you looking for information? Whatever the purpose, be crystal clear about it before you write.

Perhaps you are responding to a customer complaint. Your purpose would be to address their concerns and offer to resolve the issues. However, if you are seeking information about a new policy, your email would ask questions and seek a specific response.

How much does the reader need to know?

This goes beyond confidentiality concerns. Rather, it is a matter of giving enough, but not too much information to the reader to accomplish whatever purpose your email has.

If you are updating employees on a new dress code policy, you want to establish exactly what the policy, when it goes into effect and to whom it applies. However, there is no need to give a detailed account of the way it came to be drafted.

What result am I after?

Do I need a response to my email? If so, make that clear throughout the text. Are you asking another person to take on a task? If so, ask them to confirm their understanding and set up a date to review their progress.

If the email is informational only, and you do not need a response, perhaps a read receipt will do, so you can track which recipients have read your message.

Keeping these questions in mind while you plan and write professional emails is key to making them effective. It also helps you to put across the image you wish the reader to have of you and your company.


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