Writing Effective Business Emails

In this post of Writing Effective Business Emails, we will be covering following:


  • Limit to who really needs to know.
  • Make it clear in text who has action and who is info addressee.
  • Use BCC to protect Email addresses unless everyone knows each other.
  • Watch Reply All.
  • Use address book & validate often.
    • Avoid typing addresses free hand; many addresses are similar; watch auto fill.
    • Send same message to multiple recipients by editing message as new or cutting and pasting.
  • Make sure forward does not embarrass sender.
    • Get permission if in doubt.
    • Never “disrespect” sender in forward or reply.
  • Fill in addresses last to avoid sending an incomplete Email by mistake.

Subject Line:

  • Headline (think newspaper).
  • Grab Attention.
  • Summarize message.
  • Make it easy for recipients to triage your Email and find it later.
  • Don’t “Reply All” to a message to grab addressees without changing subject.

Opening Lines:

  • With reference to your letter of 8 June, I …
  • I am writing to enquire about …
  • After having seen your advertisement in … , I would like …
  • After having received your address from … ,I …
  • Could you please help me with the following…..
  • This is to inform you that…..

Closing Lines:

  • If you require any further information, feel free to contact me.
  • Please let me know in case any other information is required.
  • I look forward to your reply.
  • I look forward to hearing from you.
  • I look forward to seeing you.
  • Please advise as necessary.

Message Text:

  • Keep the message focused and readable.
  • Keep it short.
  • Break into paragraphs; skip lines between.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Use plain text editor, not MS Word.
  • Avoid HTML.
  • Avoid fancy typefaces.
  • Write in standard professional English with Capitalization and correct spelling.
    • Don’t try to impress.
    • Avoid chat speak, e.g., gr8 & emoticons, J.
  • Don’t type in All Caps
  • Avoid !!!
    • Avoid using URGENT and IMPORTANT.
  • Use * * to highlight text if you need.
  • Proofread & Spell check.
  • Quote back selectively when replying to long messages.
    • “Yes, I agree.” is useless without context.
    • Top quote vs. bottom quote – no consensus.
    • Avoid “Fisking,” replying line by line in an argumentative manner.
  • For URL links, use Outlook inbuilt function to shorten long URLs or enclose in < >.
  • Identify yourself clearly to new contacts.
    • Hello, I am… The reason I am writing…
    • Hello, so-in-so suggested I contact you…
  • Respond Promptly.
    • Apologize if you aren’t able to reply promptly.
    • Interim reply when too busy.


  • Cut and paste relevant parts of attachment into text of Email.
  • Upload attachments to shared location / sharepoint and use URL links.
  • Recipients who do not know you, may be reluctant to open attachments or click URLs.
  • Ensure you insert attachment to avoid sending emails like “Oops, here’s the attachment.”
  • Post large attachments in a blog (if any) and then send an Email announcement.

Signature Line:

  • Include (For receivers information)
    • Your name
    • Title
    • Organization
    • Email address
    • Website / Blog
    • Phones
  • Can be shortened for frequent correspondents.

Confidentiality and Security:

  • Have a separate Email account for newsletters, announcements etc.
  • Delete browser history, cache, cookies, userids and passwords after using a public Internet connection.
  • Logout and close all Apps after using a public Internet connection. (Restart if possible.)
  • Don’t open company emails on non-secure personal computer.
  • Back up your Email.
  • Beware of spam.
  • Beware of Phishing attacks.
  • Never include personal or financial info in an Email.
  • Don’t unsubscribe from anything, you did not subscribe to.
  • Beware of friend’s Emails.

Using Outlook:

  • Organize Email into folders.
  • Keep a copy of all sent Emails.
  • Review and clean out folders periodically.
  • Don’t print Emails unless its important.
  • Use “out of office” status when away.

10 common Email habits that waste time and cause problems:

  • Vague or nonexistent subject line.
  • Changed the topic without changing the subject.
  • Including multiple subjects in one note.
  • Sending before thinking.
  • Inadvertent replying to all.
  • Omitting the context of a reply.
  • Misaddressed recipients.
  • Displaying addresses of recipients who are strangers to each other.
  • Replying vs. forwarding.

Points to Remember:

  • Write a meaningful subject line.
  • Keep the message focused.
  • Avoid attachments.
  • Identify yourself clearly.
  • Be kind — don’t flame.
  • Don’t assume privacy.
  • Distinguish between formal and informal situations.
  • Respond Promptly.
  • Show Respect and Restraint.

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