How to Compose a Professional E-mail

So, you’ve kind of, sort of (finally) figured out the adulting thing. It’s time to switch the flip from personal to professional and apply the same mindset. Meet your new best friends: spelling, grammar and punctuation. Whether you’re starting your own business or settling into the 9-to-5 grind, learning how to compose a professional e-mail should be at the top of your to-do list. In today’s world of talking, texting and typing, our socially accepted (and shared) lazy habits tend to translate from our social circle to our workspace. From replacing words with emojis to using short forms, the struggle to compose and communicate in a professional way is real.

In many cases, when it comes to developing and maintaining relationships with co-workers and clients, e-mail serves as a primary mode of communication. And when dealing with someone outside of the office, it’s likely that online correspondence is the one of the two ways to form an overall opinion of this individual; with the phone being the other. Before clicking the cursor, keep in mind that the structure of a professional e-mail depends on one thing: the type of working relationship that you have with its recipient.

Open & Close

First thing’s first, match the introduction and conclusion of a professional e-mail in tone and style to tie together its message. Quick tip: always address the note using Mr., Mrs., or Ms. (followed by the last name). Don’t know the name of the recipient? No problem. Make “To Whom It May Concern” your go-to first line. Wrap up with a safe and simple send off. Choose one of the classics: Best, Best Wishes, Regards, Warm Regards, Thanks or Many Thanks.

Think & Type

Don’t write and run. Unless you’re composing a quick reply, take time to think about what you want to communicate — and do so in a clean and clear way. In addition to the format of the e-mail, be mindful of its words, phrases, spaces and punctuation marks. Find the balance between getting to the point and creating a sense of flow. Feel free to add a personal touch by paying the person on the other end a sincere compliment or wishing them a good week.

Review & Edit

Whether an e-mail or a social media comment, every piece of writing should have a once-over. Things to note while proofreading and editing: basic spelling and grammar, proper nouns, verb tenses, sentence structure, content, consistency and overall flow. Take a minute to re-check little things like the number of paragraphs and the spelling of homonyms. If you find that your e-mail is longer than usual, consider attaching a Word document to avoid miscommunication.

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