How to Format an Email for Business Settings
Emails are one of the most popular ways to communicate. In 2017, 269 million emails were sent worldwide. And that number is expected to increase in the future.
So do you know how to format an email properly? Proper email format helps your emails stand out in your recipient’s inbox. And it’s as important to have professional formatting in an email as it is in a traditional letter.
Are you unsure about your email formatting? Keep reading to find out how to format an email properly. It’s not too late to tweak the way you send out daily emails.
Fonts make a big difference when sending messages. While flashy fonts may do well for marketing materials, you want to keep it simple for business emails.
Choose fonts that have clean lines. Make sure that they are easy to read and free of clutter. When in doubt, stick to classics like Arial, Time Roman, Calibri, and Verdana.
Also, the font size is equally important. Choose font sizes between 10 to 12 points. You want your message to be easy to read. However, you also don’t want it to be so large that the recipient has to scroll a lot to read the entire message.
What about italics and bold text?
Generally, for business communications, they are unnecessary. Additional flourishes such as changing text color or background are also unnecessary for standard business communications. Even worse, it may send the message that you have too much time on your hands.
So, save the creativity for personal correspondence and keep flourishes out of business formatted emails.
Define Your Audience
There are two types of business emails. Defining your audience can help you determine the tone of your email.
Formal email styles may be used if:
- It is required by your organization
- The recipient is someone with an equivalent level of authority
- You don’t know the recipient well
Use an informal style if any of the following applies:
- The recipient is a business colleague you know well
- personal emails that contain both non-business and business topics
- Encouraged by your company
Styles may vary from company to company. Find out which type your company accepts before sending out an email. And when in doubt, go with a formal style.
What do you write in your subject lines?
Your subject lines need to be strong and succinct. Other than your name and email address, it’s also the only thing people see when scanning their inboxes. So this may also factor into the decision to open your email or not.
People don’t open all their emails. Some emails contain irrelevant information or spam. Others may contain viruses. So it’s very likely that your email may go to the trash folder.
Your subject line serves a variety of purposes, including:
- Alerts recipient what to expect
- Creates interest
- Helps recipient prioritize their inbox
So how do you get your email seen?
Make sure it’s clear and free of errors. Some examples of strong subject lines are:
- Application for [job position] – [insert name]
- Referred by [insert name] for [reason for interview]
- [department name] Meeting Location Changed
Keep your subject line simple. State your motives clearly. And resist the urge to ramble.
Try to limit your subject line to 6 to 10 words maximum. But avoid the temptation to leave it blank. Blank subject lines often get filtered to spam folders. And that guarantees that your email won’t get read at all.
Greeting and Salutation
Find a balance between formal and informal. If you are too formal, it may sound pompous. However, too informal and you may come across as unprofessional.
Keep in mind that if your email is forwarded, everyone will see your email. So try to keep it professional. Take clues from your company’s culture.
For example, if you don’t know the person or the recipient is above you in authority, try:
Dear Jane Smith
You may also use the standard formal greeting:
Dear [insert honorific] [last name]:
Dear Ms. Smith:
Furthermore, try to avoid honorifics that imply marital status. Unless otherwise instructed, “Mrs.” becomes “Ms.” for formal emails.
However, if your department starts out their internal emails with “Hey” or “Hi” you can follow suit if you want.
The Email Body
Next, keep your email as brief as possible. Take time to outline your thoughts if needed before writing. Keep to the point and provide basics, but don’t over explain.
If you need to include more information, attach a document with the extra information. Or offer to send more information upon request.
In addition, business emails should follow business letter emails. That means you should double-space between paragraphs. And don’t use indentations.
Lastly, don’t forget to sign your email. Keep your sign-off friendly yet professional. Use “Thanks” or “All the best” or similar phrases. Formal emails can use “Sincerely” instead.
Add a professional signature, too. Most email clients allow you to program this for your emails. Include the following emails in your signature:
- Full Name
- Company name
- Contact information
- Social media accounts (optional)
Before you press that “send” button, there’s one last thing you need to do: proofread! Make a habit of proofreading your emails before sending them out. This way, you can catch grammar or spelling mistakes before any unfortunate misunderstandings occur.
Emails may be standard practice in the business world. And knowing how to format an email for business use can help. Make sure that you follow general email rules to ensure that your message is opened.
In addition, the contents of your letter are equally important. Your format and wording may color your recipient’s impression of you. So, make sure it’s a positive one.