Mastering the art of writing professional, effective emails is a key skill that can significantly impact your success in the professional world.

From creating positive first impressions to enhancing your credibility, clear and well-crafted emails contribute to effective communication, respect for others, and overall career advancement.

In this blog, we'll explore 8 best practices of formal email etiquette to set you up for success in the business world and beyond.

Let’s dive in!

8 Best Practices of Writing Professional Emails:

  1. Understanding the purpose of your email

  2. Crafting a Clear and Concise Subject Line

  3. Using a professional but friendly tone

  4. Structuring your email for readability

  5. Proofreading and editing for grammar and typos

  6. Being mindful of attachments and file sizes

  7. Responding in a timely manner

  8. Following up and maintaining professionalism

1. Understanding the purpose of your email

Having a clear understanding of the purpose behind your email is crucial for writing a professional and effective message. Before you start composing your email, take a moment to consider what you want to achieve with it. This will help you structure your thoughts and ensure that your message is clear and focused.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when determining the purpose of your email:

  1. Consider your audience: Tailoring your email to the intended recipient is vital for enhancing its impact. Consider the recipient's level of expertise, their role, and any specific information they may need to know. Customizing your email based on their needs will make it more relevant and increase the chances of receiving a prompt and favorable response.

  2. Consider the action you want them to take: Clearly state what you expect from the recipient and provide any necessary instructions or details. If you need them to respond to your email, make it explicitly clear, specifying how and by when they should do so. A well-defined call to action reduces confusion and increases the likelihood of a prompt and accurate response.

  • Consider what context they need: It’s too easy to write a book report instead of an email, packing way more information than is needed. What do you want the reader to remember from this exchange?

Taking the time to understand the purpose of your email will significantly impact its effectiveness and set you up for clarity as you begin writing.

2. Crafting a Clear and Concise Subject Line

The email subject line is the first thing that recipients see, and it plays a crucial role in determining whether they will open and read the email or not. A clear and concise subject line is essential for grabbing the attention of the recipient and conveying the main purpose of the email.

the subject line of an email

Here are some best practices for crafting an effective subject line:

  1. Be specific: Avoid using vague or generic subject lines. Instead, clearly state the purpose of the email in a few words. For example, instead of using a subject line like "Meeting," use a subject line like "Request for Meeting on [Date] at [Time]."

  2. Keep it short: Most people receive a large number of emails daily, so it's important to keep the subject line brief and to the point. Aim for a subject line that is no longer than 50 characters. Long subject lines can be difficult to read and may get cut off in email clients.

  3. Use keywords: Including relevant keywords in the subject line can help recipients quickly understand the context and importance of the email. For instance, if the email is about a project update, use keywords like "Project Update: [Project Name]."

  4. Avoid all caps and excessive punctuation: Using all capital letters or excessive punctuation in the subject line can make the email appear unprofessional and may even be perceived as spam. Stick to proper capitalization and use punctuation sparingly.

  5. Personalize when necessary: If the email is intended for a specific person or group, consider mentioning their name or department in the subject line. This can help them quickly identify that the email is relevant to them.

  6. Include a sense of urgency: If the email requires immediate attention or action, it can be beneficial to indicate this in the subject line. For example, using "Urgent: [Action Required]" can prompt recipients to prioritize your email.

  7. Be honest and accurate: Avoid using misleading subject lines to trick recipients into opening your email. This can damage your credibility and negatively impact your professional reputation.

Remember, your subject line should accurately reflect the content of the email and grab the recipient's attention.

By following these best practices, you can craft a clear and concise subject line that increases the chances of your email being opened and read.

3. Using a professional but friendly tone

When writing professional emails, it's important to strike a balance between a formal email and maintaining a friendly tone. This helps to establish rapport and build positive relationships with colleagues, clients, and business partners. Here are some best practices for using a professional but friendly tone in your emails:

  1. Use a polite greeting: Start your email with a courteous greeting, such as "Hi [Name]" or just "[Name]" This sets a friendly tone right from the beginning and shows that you value the recipient.

  2. Avoid using overly formal language: While it's important to maintain professionalism, using overly formal language can sometimes create a barrier between you and the recipient. Instead, opt for clear and concise language that is easy to understand.

  3. Be respectful: Always be respectful in your choice of words and tone. Avoid using derogatory or offensive language, and treat others with courtesy and empathy.

  4. Use appropriate humor: Injecting a bit of humor into your emails can make them more engaging and personable. However, it's crucial to ensure that the humor is appropriate and aligns with the recipient's sense of humor. Avoid jokes that could be misinterpreted or offensive.

  5. Show genuine interest: Demonstrate your genuine interest in the recipient and their concerns or needs. Use phrases such as "I understand," "I appreciate," or "I'm here to help." This conveys empathy and reinforces the friendly tone of your email.

  6. Keep the tone conversational: Write in a way that feels like a conversation rather than a formal report. This helps to create a sense of familiarity and encourages open and collaborative communication.

  7. Use positive language: Choose words that are positive and uplifting. Instead of highlighting problems or pointing fingers, focus on finding solutions and offering support. This helps to maintain a friendly and constructive tone.

  8. Use appropriate sign-offs: End your email with a polite and professional sign-off, such as "Thanks," "Best," or "Warmly." This shows respect and wraps up the conversation on a positive note.

  9. Proofread for tone: Before hitting the send button, proofread your email to ensure that the tone remains professional and friendly. Check for any unintentional language or phrases that may be misinterpreted.

  10. Consider the recipient's preferences: If you have a long-standing professional relationship with the recipient, take into account their communication style and preferences. Some individuals may prefer a more formal tone, while others may appreciate a more casual approach.

Remember, using a professional but friendly tone in your emails can foster positive relationships and improve overall communication.

4. Structuring your email for readability

For every type of email outreach, it’s crucial to structure your content in a way that promotes readability. A well-structured email ensures that your message is understood clearly and efficiently by the recipient.

email readability score generated with QuickMail

Here are some best practices to follow when structuring your email:

  • Use concise subject lines: Most email service providers truncate subject lines at 55 characters. The subject line is the first thing the recipient sees, so make sure it accurately summarizes the content of your email concisely and is short enough to show in its entirety.

  • Break your email into paragraphs: Long, dense paragraphs can be overwhelming and difficult to read. Instead, break your email into smaller paragraphs to make it easier for the recipient to digest the information. Each paragraph should focus on one main idea or topic.

  • Use bullet points or numbered lists: When presenting information or listing items, using bullet points or numbered lists helps to organize your content and make it more visually appealing. This format makes it easier for the recipient to scan and understand the key points quickly.

  • Highlight important information: Use bold or italic font styles to emphasize important information or key points in your email. This helps draw the recipient's attention to the most critical pieces of information and enhances the overall readability of the email.

  • Provide clear and specific instructions: If you are requesting any actions or responses from the recipient, make sure your instructions are clear and specific. Use numbered steps or concise sentences to outline what you expect from them. This avoids any confusion or miscommunication.

Clear and concise communication is key to professional email writing. Often readers are scanning emails for the most important information.

Using a professional cold email tool like QuickMail automatically generated a readability score for each message. It makes it simple to stay professional and clear.

Creating a format with visual breaks makes it more likely that your readers will walk away with the information you hoped to communicate - and even more likely they will take your desired action.

5. Proofreading and editing for grammar and typos

Poor grammar and careless mistakes can create a negative impression of your professionalism and attention to detail. By proofreading and editing your emails before sending them, you can avoid embarrassing errors and demonstrate your commitment to producing high-quality written communication.

Here are some best practices to follow when proofreading and editing your emails for grammar and typos:

  1. Read your email aloud: Reading your email aloud can help you spot any awkward phrasing or grammatical errors that you may have missed when reading silently. Hearing the words spoken can make it easier to identify sentences that need revision or parts that don't flow smoothly.

  2. Use a grammar check tool: Most email clients have built-in grammar and spell-check tools that can assist in catching errors. These tools can instantly flag misspellings, and grammar mistakes, and even suggest alternative word choices. Utilizing these tools can save time and help you identify and correct errors before hitting the send button.

  3. Check proper names and titles: Double-check the spelling and accuracy of personal and professional names, job titles, and addresses. Misspelling someone's name or using the wrong title can be seen as disrespectful or careless.

By taking the time to ensure your emails are error-free, you demonstrate a commitment to clear and effective communication.

6. Being mindful of attachments and file access

Nothing is more annoying than getting a doc link you don’t have access to or an attachment that can’t be opened. Here are some best practices for handling attachments and file sizes in your professional emails:

  • Keep attachments to a minimum: Only include attachments that are necessary for the purpose of the email. Opt for sending a file link instead when possible to prevent issues with their company’s firewall.

  • Provide a brief description: When attaching files or sharing a link, provide a brief description or context in your email. This helps the recipient understand the purpose of each file and ensures they don't overlook any important information.

  • Check file size limitations: Some email providers have limitations on the maximum file size that can be sent or received. Make sure to check these limitations before attaching large files. If your file exceeds the limit, consider using file-sharing services or cloud storage platforms to send the file instead.

  • Verify attachments and link access before sending: Before hitting the send button, double-check that you have attached the correct files and the recipient has the needed access to open them. It can be embarrassing and inconvenient if you accidentally send the wrong attachment or forget to attach important files.

By being mindful of attachments and file sizes, you can ensure that your business emails are delivered smoothly and the recipients have a seamless experience accessing the necessary files.

7. Responding in a timely manner

When it comes to professional email communication, responding in a timely manner is crucial. Delayed responses can leave the wrong impression and hinder effective communication. Here are some best practices for responding promptly to emails:

  1. Set clear expectations: Let your colleagues and clients know your preferred response time. If you are unable to reply within a certain timeframe, communicate that as well. Setting clear expectations upfront helps manage the sender's expectations and avoid misunderstandings.

  2. Check and prioritize: Regularly check your email inbox to stay updated on new messages. Prioritize emails based on their urgency and importance. Respond to time-sensitive emails first to ensure critical matters are addressed promptly.

  3. Acknowledge receipt: When you receive an email, acknowledge receipt promptly. A simple response like "Thank you for your email. I have received it and will respond soon" shows that you are attentive and engaged.

  4. Provide timelines: When replying to a request or query, provide a clear timeline for when the recipient can expect further updates or action. This helps manage expectations and demonstrates that you value their time.

  5. Consider time zones: Keep in mind the time zones of the recipients when responding to emails. It may be necessary to adjust your response time or mention any potential delays due to time zone differences.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that you respond to emails in a timely manner, fostering effective communication and maintaining positive professional relationships.

8. Following up and maintaining professionalism

Following up is an essential aspect of professional email communication. Keep each conversation in the same thread so the previous emails are available for reference. Having ready access to your entire message makes it more actionable.

Email is a common form of communication in the business world and how you handle email etiquette rules can show that you are proactive and attentive to details. It ensures that important tasks or requests are not forgotten or overlooked.

Remember that each message you send is a reflection of your professionalism and attention to detail. In the fast-paced world of professional communication, the ability to craft effective and professional emails is a skill that can set you apart.

Email Etiquette Honorable Mentions

Using a professional email signature, professional email address, and professional signature will go a long way to help the image of your correspondence immensely. Especially f you are a job seeker or in sales, crafting a professional image is key to delivering an actionable message. 

When you apply these best practices, your email correspondence can become a powerful tool for success in your professional journey. Building credibility through all types of emails is key to creating a positive impression.