Writing emails has become a part of almost every person’s daily life. But there is a difference between writing emails in an informal way and a formal way. The formal standard for writing emails is expected when emailing within the business and academic world. This blog outlines how to write a formal business email, and what to avoid. 

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Subject Lines

The first part of the email is the subject line. This is a very effective part of an email that gives a one-sentence or less explanation of the email. The subject line needs to be utilized because people are very busy nowadays, and can overlook an email you send if the subject line is not utilized. “Your email subject line will often determine whether or not anyone will read your message” (Insider). You want your subject line to be short and specific. Furthermore, it should also be personalized to the person our audience you are emailing. You want to put the most important words first in the subject line and eliminate filler words. Also when asking for something in your email, whether it be participation or a reply, make sure you indicate that in the subject line. For example, if asking a team member a question you can put in the subject line “Reply by Friday: …..”. Here is an example of a good subject line: 

The Body

The body of the email contains all the details about what you are talking about. Because business emails are formal, you want to start your body with a formal introduction: Dear ____,.

What goes in the blank is whoever you are addressing. This can be a colleague, supervisor, professor, etc…. It is important to start your email off formally to show respect and professionalism. Next, you want to add the details of what you are emailing about. Make sure you are clear and concise. As mentioned earlier people receive many emails each day and do not want to spend more time than needed trying to figure out what the point of your email is. To help ensure an easy read of your email utilize space, bolding, and bulleting. Use space to separate ideas, and bold important words within each idea. For example, if you are asking for someone to join in a work partnership, you would want to bold the line where you directly ask this. Lastly, when listing something in an email, bullets should be utilized as it breaks up the ideas and adds clarity.


At the end of the email, you want to specifically state what the purpose or goal of sending that email is. This allows the reader to understand what they should be taking away from your email. You also want to specify if there are any attachments to the email, so the reader does not miss them. Similar to the formal greeting in the opening of the body, you want to close the email formally. For example, you could say: 

Thank you for your time and consideration, 

   Sincerely (Your Name). 

The last part of your email is your signature. The signature is important to give the reader context on who you are. It should say your name, job/organization, and contact information ( cell, work phone, email). You do not need to include all three: cell, work phone, email, but it is typical to include one phone number and an email. 

If you would like to learn more about writing formal emails or how to create an email signature explore the articles below!