7 tips for writing great emails

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Writing effective emails is an important skill. Follow these seven tips:

  1. Write a good subject line

    Make your subject line short and clear:

    • Use six to eight words
    • Be descriptive. The receiver should know what it is about.
    • Follow instructions if it is a job application (example: “Application for Job code #12345”).
    • Don’t use all caps. Also, don’t use “hello” or “hi” as the subject line.
    • Don’t write “Important” or “Urgent”.
  2. Make your email formal at work

    Don’t use casual remarks and emojis. Always be pleasant and respectful. Be courteous. Say “thank you” when appropriate. For more tips on writing emails in the workplace, read 8 formal email etiquette tips you should remember.

  3. Be brief and concise

    Write a greeting, body and conclusion. Start your email with a brief greeting and intro (example: “Hello! I’m writing in response to your email about…”). Write the most important message of your email next. This is the body. It should have all the necessary details that you want to say. End your email by saying what action you expect (examples: “Let me know if this works” or “Call me if you have questions”) and a closing greeting. Keep it within three to four short paragraphs.

  4. Keep it clean

    Make your attachments:

    • virus-free
    • the right format. Use commonly used formats like doc, pdf, and txt. Ask the receiver to be sure.
    • small. Compress them (zip). Big files may slow down their computer.

    Don’t use email for sending large files. Use Google drive or Dropbox, or photo sharing sites like Facebook or Flickr.

  5. Check before sending

    Check your spelling and grammar before sending. Make sure names, dates and other details are correct. Read your email aloud to make sure. Send it to yourself to see how the email will look like.

    Never click “Reply All” if it is not relevant to everyone on the “to” line. Busy people do not like emails that they do not need.

  6. Don’t reply to an email when you are angry or tired

    Cool down before you reply. Understand the sender and the situation clearly. Write an answer when you’re ready. See if it will be better to call the sender.

    Don’t answer a long or important email with “Okay” or “Agree.” It sounds like you don’t really care. Write at least two to three sentences. Explain why you agree. Say “thank you” for the email if you have nothing to add.

  7. Reply promptly

    Answer emails within 24 to 48 hours. Send an acknowledgement email if you need more time (Example: “Hello, I have received your request. I will need to gather information which may take several days. I will get back to you as soon as possible.”).

Article updated November 6, 2020.

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