How to Write Business Emails
Summarize the email in a 6-8 word subject. It is important to make sure you include a subject, since an email that does not have a subject may be ignored. Your subject should be short and to the point and it should highlight the main message of the email.  The ideal subject gives the reader all they need to know or informs them they need to make a decision. People who receive hundreds of emails a day may only open emails with particularly compelling subjects. Make sure to place the most important words in the subject first because the entire subject may not be visible on a mobile device. Ideal subjects are 6-8 words and personalized to the recipient. 
- Examples of good email subject lines
- Marketing meeting 6/7 at 3 PM. Can you attend?
- The printer broke. Can I replace for $200?
- Your PetsAlive.org shipment will arrive on 9/8
- Examples of bad email subject lines
- A meeting
- A printer
- On the way to you
Make emails concise. People are busy, and they do not want to spend much time reading work emails. Make your emails as short as they can be while still providing all the details necessary.  Your sentences should be short and to the point.
- Before sending your email, read over it and eliminate any irrelevant information. Generally, if you have provided excess or off-topic information, delete it.
- Some people try to create and send emails containing five sentences or less. If you can do this, it is a good guideline for keeping an e-mail brief and to the point. You can do this by answering the questions, “Who am I? What do I want? Why am I asking this person? Why should they do what I am asking? What is the next step that I/they/we will need to take?” However, this applies to the average e-mail, not an e-mail that demands a lot of detail, or a quick “thank you” to your co-worker who sent you that link. 
Write the email so that it can be skimmed and acted on. Use formatting that will help your reader get quickly to information they need. Bold the most important sentences or concepts in a long email.
- Use bullet points and bold text to help make the email easier to skim and act on.
Include URLs or attachments if that will help the reader process the email faster. Never force the reader to hunt for a URL or attachment in another email.
- Example of good URL implementation
- “The agenda for the marketing meeting is in this Google doc URL: Google.com/sample”
- Example of a bad URL implementation
- “The agenda for the marketing meeting is in the email I sent you on the 4th.”
Ask clearly for the action you want the reader to take. Do not make the reader guess that you are asking for a decision, or advice, a referral, or a purchase. Ask for directly and unequivocally for what it is that you want, need or expect!
- Asking clearly is especially important if you are sending to multiple people. And, make sure to call out the name of the specific person you need to make the decision. For example: “Elizabeth: Would you prefer I go down path A or path B here?”
- Alternatively, if your email is only informing someone of something rather than asking for an action, clearly label the email as “FYI” in the subject or in first sentence.
Part Two of Three:
Maintaining Formality and Professional Image Edit
Use a formal tone. The tone of your email should remain professional and straightforward. Strive for a confident and courteous tone.  Try to leave emotional or informal language out of the email entirely. Avoid contractions and abbreviations whenever possible. Remember, full-length phrases often seem more formal.
- For example, the following email is too informal for business: Thanks for the snakes you sent. I’m sorry to say that two were dead. Send more soon, plz. Talk to ya later!
- A more formal version of the previous email: Thank you for your shipment of the four ball pythons to our store, Pets Alive! on March 2, 2015. Unfortunately, two of the snakes appear to have been hurt during the delivery and were deceased when I opened the snake crate. I would like for you to send two replacement snakes as soon as possible. Please email me or call the store with further questions or to make arrangements for a new shipment.
- Sometimes a more informal e-mail is appropriate “in house” with co-workers you know well and if it is in line with “work culture”. However, do not use text abbreviations, use complete sentences, and do not write anything that you would not want your boss to read.
Proofread your email. Do your best to ensure that your email does not include grammar or spelling mistakes and uses standard punctuation – no ALL CAPS, for example.  Many email programs include a spell check option; if your email has one, use it! Poor grammar almost certainly will undermine the message that you are sending, so, if possible use an grammar checker.
- If you are sending an email to a large number of people or if the email is particularly important, you may want to have someone (or several individuals) proofread it before you send it.