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Emails have become the most common form of business communication. They can be conversational and often they do not adhere to rigorous forms and standards of business writing.

Even though emails are not as strict as say, official letters, there is a clear distinction between work emails and personal emails. In the business environment, one sloppy email could mean the loss of major contracts and opportunities, and much more the possible loss of credibility.

Formal emails must follow a structure; they are not just a click-and-go affair. Some common pitfalls for many young professionals include inappropriate subject lines, incoherence, bad punctuation and inappropriate choice of words.


Primarily, emails are intended to communicate a concern or information to colleagues, supervisors, employers, business associates etc. Formal emails cannot be written in shorthand or in “SMS language” regardless of their pseudo-formality.

It will be unfortunate for your employer, client or business associates to say of you that you are incapable of ‘writing a simple email’. Below are 5 simple but important points to consider when sending a formal email:

Subject Line– It is absolutely crucial that you include a subject line in all official emails. Subject lines are the preamble to formal letters; it explains the purpose of your emails to its recipient(s). Emails that do not have subject lines are quite easy to ignore. This is because most professionals have dozens of emails coming through their inbox each day; they will not have the time to comb through your mail in an attempt to figure out the crust of your message.

Addressing the recipient– After making sure that your subject line is not blank, the next important item is how you address the recipient. Addressing your recipient is recognizing that you are talking to an actual person. Imagine how ill-mannered it would be to walk into an office and without greeting, go straight to the matter at hand! More so, make sure you address your recipient appropriately, avoid language like “hey” or “sup.”

Grammar– The use of correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling cannot be overlooked in formal emails. If you use improper or incorrect language, and neglect to re-read your mail before sending, your message may lose clarity and you might also fail to make a good impression on the recipient.

Formatting your email– Emails read a whole lot better when written in shorter sentences and paragraphs.  Don’t send a long jumbled message in a one paragraph email. Make good use of spacing by separating paragraphs with different ideas.

Signing off– It is essential to close off your email by signing off appropriately. Is ‘Cheers’ too casual, or should you stick to the safe but predictable ‘counting on your usual corporation’? Whichever way you choose to sign off, it must be consistent with the general tone and content of the email.

We will, in subsequent posts discuss the details of how to undertake a careful application of each one of these points so your email will have the intended impact.

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