Professional Email Templates: Email Formatting & Examples

Take some of the stress out of writing formal emails with these professional email templates and email formatting examples.

Informal vs. Formal Email Writing

We write emails for many different reasons, but they tend to fall into two categories: informal and formal.

A formal email might be one you send to a friend or family member. A quick catch-up, an invitation to dinner, a recommendation for a great recipesomething simple like this.

Formal emails are generally used in a business setting. They’re common in B2B and B2C sales, and in intra-office communications. Of course, the line between informal and formal emails can be vague, and sometimes you might use elements of each in an email, but it’s important to recognize the distinction.

For example, you may have a good friend in your office and the way you communicate with them will depend on the subject of the email. If you’re scheduling a lunch meeting it may be more informal, but if you’re sending recommended edits to a contract, then it’s likely going to be much more formal.

Everyone has their own style of writing, but you will find you sometimes need to be more formal, and other times, you can use a more relaxed style.

Basic Professional Email Formatting

When you send an informal email, the consequences generally aren’t high. When you send your friend an invitation to dinner, it doesn’t particularly matter whether you mix up a few words and ramble on a little bit.

The same isn’t true when you’re sending a professional email though, so it’s important you focus on the formatting. If you break down the email into its basic elements, then it’s much easier to plan out your communication and structure it effectively.

A professional email should have four basic elements:

  • Subject line
  • Greeting
  • Email body
  • Email signature

To get the most out of your emails, each aspect should be optimized and personalized to the individual you’re emailing.

Subject Line

The subject line might seem like something you fill in as an afterthought, but it’s extremely important. Business people get hundreds of emails each day and far too often, there’s lots of spam cluttering up their inbox.

To save time in their busy schedules, people use subject lines to decide whether or not they’re going to open an email. In fact, 47% of people open emails based on the subject line, so this is a prime opportunity for optimization.

Your subject lines need to grab attention as well as hint at the value you offer.

This can be a tricky balance to find, but a perfect subject line will have a big impact on your response rates.

Greeting

In business, people tend to want you to get straight to the point, but first, you’ve got to take care of the formalities. If you’re quickly going back and forth in an email then this might not be necessary, but most of your emails will start with a greeting.

For those people who’ve spent time debating whether to start with “hi,” “hello,” or “hey,” a common question is what is the best salutation?

The key is not to overthink it and always do some research on the person you’re emailing. Use LinkedIn to find out the recipient’s preferred name (e.g. Dan vs Daniel) and keep it simple.

While “hey” might lean more towards the informal side, “hi” and “hello” are perfectly acceptable, and a good way to begin your email.

Other acceptable options include:

  • Dear [name]
  • Greetings
  • Hi there
  • Hi everyone

You’ll develop your own style with greetings, but there’s no need to overcomplicate them.

Email Body

Once you’ve grabbed the recipient’s attention and extended them a pleasant greeting, then you can get into the body of your email.

This is where you will craft your message and persuade the reader to take action.

However, don’t get too carried away!

Emails work best when they’re short and concise. Nobody wants to see a big block of text and have to read an essay. Instead, it’s important to keep your email to the point and make it look appealing to read (keep paragraphs short and use headers to break things up).

Always keep your emails focused on one message. If you’ve got more than one point to talk about, then it’s better to separate them out into different emails. Stay focused on your point, give the recipient all the information they need to make a decision and ask for action.

You’re writing an email for a reason – you want to achieve something. Finish your email by highlighting the action you want the person to take, and they’re much more likely to do it.

Include an Email Signature

Creating a clean email signature is an easy step and it makes you look much more professional. This will make it simple for the recipient to find out who you are, what you do, and how to contact you.

Very often, we send emails to people we’re not familiar with, so being able to identify yourself is important. Your email signature should include information like:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Link to your website
  • Link to your LinkedIn profile

This will help the recipient paint a clearer picture of who they’re talking to and increase the likelihood that they respond.

Professional Email Template

There are so many different reasons to write a professional email that it’s difficult to write a generic template that fits everything. Each situation requires something slightly different, so you will need to tweak it, but this professional email template can help you get started.

Subject Line: [Issue] – [Salutation] [Your Name]

Dear [research recipient’s preferred name],

First Paragraph:

The first paragraph should be short and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush because people’s time is precious. For example, if you’re applying for a job, include the job title, how you discovered the opening, and what action you would like to happen.

Middle Paragraph:

This is where you showcase the value you offer and demonstrate why the recipient should take action. Make sure you don’t focus too much on yourself but also talk about the company/person you’re reaching out to.

In the job application example, this would mean talking about some of the great work the company has done and how its values match yours.

Final Paragraph:

Thank the recipient for their time and reinforce the action you would like them to take with a call to action.

Closing:

Sincerely,

Your email signature

Email Templates for Specific Situations

The generic email template above can be molded to fit any situation, but sometimes you want something a little bit more specific. Here are some common situations where you will find yourself writing a business email and some templates to help you get started.

1. Announcement

You may not necessarily need people to take action when you send an announcement email, but you do need people to read it. Here’s how you can make sure that happens.

Subject Line: Exciting updates to the team: Meet [name]

Hi team,

I’m excited to introduce you to our new [new team member’s position]. [name of new team member] brings great experience in [industry] and will be [job specification]

[name of new team member] is [fun detail new employee might want to share e.g. a huge Star Trek fan], so feel free to say hi and strike up a conversation.

Sincerely,

[Your email signature]

2. Business Follow Up Email

Networking is still a very important part of business. When you meet new people, it’s important to make sure you nurture the relationship and one of the ways you can do this is through a follow-up email.

Subject Line: Great to meet you at [event]

Hi [name of recipient],

It was great meeting you at [how you met]. I really enjoyed our conversation about [subject] and would love to catch up and discuss it further in the future.

Your work as a [job title] at [company] is intriguing and I’d love to hear more about what you do. If you have time in the coming weeks, then it would be great to grab a coffee.

I’m generally free on [days], do any of those work for you?

Sincerely,

[Your email signature]

3. Request

One of the most common business emails you will write is a request. Whether it’s requesting days off, asking for a raise, or something else, it’s important you get these emails right. Even if you’re nervous about the request, there’s no point beating around the bush. Instead, get to the point in a simple but well-crafted message.

Subject Line: Vacation Request for [date]

Dear [name of recipient],

I’d like to use my PTO for a vacation starting Friday, September the 5th until the next Friday, September the 12th.

I will ensure that all my tasks and responsibilities are taken care of in advance and I have discussed my current caseload with my colleagues, [name] and [name] so they are up to date.

I look forward to your approval,

[Your email signature]

4. Question

Questions can range from the most simple yes/no to the extremely complicated. When you’re emailing someone with a question, it’s important to keep things simple and not draw people’s attention away from the points you need answering.

Subject Line: Are We Updating Our Sustainability Policies?

Dear [name of recipient],

In light of the latest governmental advice, I was wondering if we would be making imminent changes to our sustainability policies?

Our brand has been a leader in sustainability for many years, and as this is something I’m deeply passionate about, it’s been a great source of pride. I’m hoping we can continue to maintain our commitment to the environment in line with the new advice.

It would be great to know if you plan on updating our policies, and if you’re looking for any input, then I’d be very happy to contribute.

Sincerely,

[Your email signature]

5. Complaint

Unfortunately, there will be times when you have a complaint and need to voice your frustration. This is a part of doing business, but it can be a difficult email to approach. The key thing is that you make your point clear and keep things simple.

Subject Line: Complaint Regarding [subject of complaint]

Hi there,

I recently bought [subject of complaint] from your store in [location] and it’s not working. When I went to return it the next day, the attendant couldn’t offer me any help in fixing it and wouldn’t allow me to return the product for a refund.

I have been using your store for many years and am extremely disappointed in the poor level of service.

Please could you look into this issue and resolve the problem for me.

Sincerely,

[Your email signature]

6. Apology

We don’t always get things right in life and sometimes that means we have to make an apology. This isn’t fun for anybody, but you can take some of the stress out of it with this simple apology template.

Subject Line: [subject of apology]

Hi [customer name],

We found an issue with [what] on [when].

What does this mean for you?

[note detailing effects of issue]

[note reassuring customers]

We were quick to notice this issue with [subject of apology] and have limited the disruptions as much as possible. Our technical team has been working around the clock to solve the issue, and we can inform you that as of [time], everything is back to normal.

From everyone at [company] we’d like to apologize for the inconvenience this might have caused. We’re now analyzing the problem and using those insights to ensure there will be no recurrence of the issue in the future.

Sincerely,

[your email signature]

7. Termination

Many business situations can be delicate. One situation that’s particularly delicate is termination. Of course, you’re not going to be terminating someone’s employment over an email, but you might have to terminate a user’s account, or something similar.

Subject Line: Immediate Termination of Your Account

To whom it may concern,

We have terminated your account with [company] with immediate effect.

[reason]

Having spoken with you on [date and time] regarding [issue] we have seen no change in [usage type]. Following multiple communications, you continue to breach our terms of use, meaning we have no choice but to suspend the account.

Sincerely,

[your email signature]

Key Takeaways

Writing professional emails is an important part of life. Even in our personal lives, there will be moments where we need to use a more formal style of writing.

When you’re writing an important email, it’s easy to overthink things, but if you keep things simple and to the point, you will have more success. Break the email down into sections, focus on personalization, and keep it short and sweet.

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