How to write professional emails

Lisa Whelan

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Using Proton Mail to send professional emails means that your business communications will be kept secure in the cloud. This means your outreach, agreements, meetings, and contacts are all kept secure with easy-to-use end-to-end encryption. However, before you can start making an impact with secure business emails, you need to know how to write professional emails that get the results you want.

What is the goal of your email?

The first step of writing an effective business email is understanding the goal of your message. Ask yourself what action you want your recipient to take once they have read your email. Once you have worked out what your goal is, you can make sure the rest of your email works to support it. Keeping the email concise and aimed at achieving your goal is key to writing a good professional email.

Who is the audience of your email?

Understanding the audience of your business email is key to ensuring your tone matches the circumstances. For example, if you’re emailing the CEO of a company you have not had contact with before, you should keep the email free from jokes and informalities. Once you get to know someone better, you may want to relax this formal approach to your emails so you can work on building a good professional relationship.

If you are writing an email to multiple people using either the CC or BCC functions, you will also need to consider the information you include in your professional email and who you are addressing it to. (For example, you should not use anyone’s name in an email where all contacts are BCC, or include private information in an email that has a CC recipient you do not have permission to share it with.)

How to write a professional email

Now you know the goal and audience of your email, you can start writing it, making sure you keep your message concise, relevant, and easy to read.

Subject line

Your subject line is the first part of the message that your recipient will see, and if you are sending a cold email (such as a sales pitch), your subject line could determine whether your recipient opens the email at all.

  • Don’t make your subject too long, or it may be truncated by the recipient’s email client or app.
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Truncated vs. concise subject line
  • Do not try to “click bait” your recipient into opening your business email by keeping your subject line vague. Instead, clearly summarize why you are contacting this person.
  • Include any additional pertinent information, such as whether the email needs to be responded to by a specific deadline, or if the email is urgent.

Salutations

If you are writing a particularly formal email, you can start the email with “Dear [name]”. However, for most professional emails, a simple “Hi” or “Hello” should suffice. Address the recipient by name where possible. 

If you are sending an email to multiple people, you may want to address them all by name, although if you are using the BCC field, you should not use the names of any of the recipients in the email, as doing so will reveal that they are not the sole recipient of your message.

Formatting

When writing a professional email, you should make sure that the formatting you use makes the email easy to read, and follows formatting rules that will translate over to other email clients — this means using standard web fonts and unicode symbols. Custom fonts are unlikely to appear in your recipients’ inbox.

To make your email look professional and easy to digest, use:

  • Small paragraphs instead of continuous lines of text
  • Include hyperlinks instead of unformatted URLs
  • Bullet points or numbered lists instead of writing lists as paragraphs

How to sign off an email

The end of your email should summarize what your message is about, and reiterate what action your recipient should take once they have read it. Then you should sign off with a professional closing and your full name.

How you sign off your message depends on your relationship with the recipient and how formal the email is. For a close working relationship, “all the best” or “kind regards” are common ways to sign off your email. For more formal professional emails, consider “yours sincerely”, or “with gratitude”.

When writing any business email, you should avoid very informal closings such as “see ya”, or not including any closing at all — even if you have an email signature(new window).

Proofreading professional emails

Once you have written your professional email, you should ensure you proofread it before you send it.

The first step of proofreading your email is to ensure that the goal you set out before writing your email is clear throughout the message. Then prune back any parts of the email that are unnecessarily long, and make sure each sentence is as concise as possible.

Basic errors in your email will often mean that your message does not have the desired outcome once it lands in your recipient’s inbox.

Common email errors that you should always check for include:

  • Forgetting to add necessary attachments
  • Spelling errors and typos
  • Incorrectly spelled names
  • Incorrect dates and times

Sending professional emails with Proton Mail

Choosing the right email provider is an easy way to make sure your professional emails are more effective. Some domains, such as AOL or Hotmail(new window), are seen as informal or outdated, and can affect the way your recipients respond to your email before they’ve even opened it. This is particularly important if you are using your email address to apply for jobs. As business emails can contain sensitive information, keeping your messages private should be a top priority. With Proton Mail, all your business emails and attachments are automatically end-to-end encrypted, meaning only you and your recipient can read the contents of your messages (when sent to another Proton Mail account or when using the Proton Mail Encrypt for Outside(new window) feature).

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Lisa Whelan

Lisa is an activist, writer, and internet privacy advocate. A defender of the right to privacy for people everywhere, Lisa joined Proton to spread awareness and further enable freedom online.

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