How to Write a Formal Email (2023)

Imagine this: You’ve been asked to email a potential client to pitch your product or service. You want to make a good impression and convince them that your offering fits their needs best.

However, you’re unsure how to structure your email or what language to use to convey your message effectively.

Have you ever stared at a blank screen, unsure how to start a formal email? Perhaps you’re struggling to find the right words or wondering if your message will be professional and effective.

Writing a formal email can be intimidating, especially when communicating with colleagues, clients, or superiors in a professional environment.

In this article, we will guide you through the essential elements of a formal email, provide tips on writing a compelling message that gets results and help you avoid common pitfalls that can undermine your credibility.

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What is a formal email?

A formal email is a type of email that is typically used in professional or business settings. It is written formally and follows certain conventions email etiquette and guidelines different from those used in casual or personal emails.

In a formal email, it’s essential to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation and to address the recipient by their proper title and name.

When it comes to writing formal emails though, the key is to remember that you’re not just shooting the breeze with your buddies – you’re representing yourself and your company or organization. So, it’s essential to use a respectful and professional tone while still being clear and concise.

Some common situations where you might need to send a formal email include job applications, business inquiries, and professional correspondence with colleagues, clients, or customers.

Overall, a formal email is a professional and respectful way of communicating important information or requests in a professional setting, and it can help you make a positive impression on the recipient.

Where do formal emails fit in?

You won’t write a formal email to a friend, so where do formal emails fit in? Well, there are plenty of places where formal emails need to be written.

Formal emails are typically used in a variety of professional communication business contexts, such as:

  1. Job Applications – When applying for a job, it is important to use a formal email to communicate with the employer. This helps to convey a professional image and demonstrates your attention to detail.
  2. Business Proposals – Formal emails are often used to submit business proposals to potential clients or investors. A well-written email can help to convince them to invest in your business idea.
  3. Communication with Clients – Formal emails are essential when communicating with clients, as they help to establish a professional relationship and convey a sense of credibility.
  4. Complaints and Disputes – Formal emails can be used to raise complaints or disputes with suppliers, vendors, or other business partners. A formal email can help to maintain a professional tone while clearly outlining the issue and requesting a resolution.
  5. Performance Feedback – Formal emails can be used to provide feedback to employees or team members on their performance. This can help maintain a professional and constructive tone while ensuring the feedback is clear and actionable.
  6. Announcements and Updates – Formal emails can send announcements or updates to employees or stakeholders. This can help ensure that the information is conveyed clearly and professionally and that everyone is aware of important developments.

Breaking down the structure of a formal email

When writing a formal email for business purposes, it is important to use a structured format that is clear, concise, and professional. Here is a detailed breakdown of the structure of a formal email:

Subject Line

The subject line of a formal email should provide a summary of the content of the email. This helps the recipient understand the email’s purpose and prioritize their responses accordingly. It should be short and to the point, ideally no longer than 8-10 words.

For example:

Subject: Meeting Request for Sales Proposal


The salutation is the formal greeting you use to address the email’s recipient. Depending on the relationship and level of formality, there are different ways to address the recipient. For instance, you may use “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./Professor” for more formal situations or “Hello/Hi” for less formal situations. Always use the person’s name if you know it, and double-check the spelling to avoid errors.

For example:

Dear Mr. Smith,

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph of a formal email should provide a brief introduction and context for the email. This includes any necessary background information or explanations to ensure that the recipient understands the purpose of the email. This paragraph must be clear and concise in order to avoid confusion or misunderstandings.

For example:

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Jane Smith, and I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss a new sales proposal that I believe will interest your company. I have attached a summary of the proposal for your review.

Body Paragraph(s)

The body of the email should contain the main message or information you wish to communicate to the recipient. It is important to organize the information logically and clearly, using paragraphs if necessary. Use formal language and avoid contractions, slang, or abbreviations. Use bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate to make the information easier to read and understand.

For example:

Our proposal is for a new product line that we believe will be a strong addition to your existing offerings. The product is designed to appeal to a wide range of customers, and we have conducted extensive market research to ensure that it meets the needs and preferences of your target audience. The key features of the product include:- High-quality materials and construction- Innovative design and functionality- Competitive pricing compared to similar products on the marketWe would be happy to provide more detailed information on the product and answer any questions you may have.

Closing Paragraph

The closing paragraph of a formal email should summarize the key points of the email and provide any necessary follow-up instructions or requests. This is also an excellent opportunity to thank the recipient for their time and consideration and express your willingness to assist them if they require further information.

For example:

Thank you for your time and consideration of our proposal. We believe this product has excellent potential for your company, and we look forward to discussing it with you in more detail. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns or would like to schedule a meeting to discuss the proposal further.


The sign-off is the final part of the email, and it should be professional and formal. Depending on the relationship and level of formality, there are different ways to sign off the email. For instance, you may use “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” “Yours truly,” or “Respectfully.” Include your name, job title, and company (if applicable) below your sign-off.

For example:

Sincerely,Jane SmithSales ManagerABC Company

The best tips to follow when writing a formal email

Use a professional email address

Imagine a client sending you an email from an address called “partygirl2021”. You will surely have a hard time taking the client or the contents of the email seriously. Plus, it’s just weird.

When sending formal emails, your email address should be professional and appropriate for business communication. Avoid using personal or humorous email addresses. Instead, use an email address that includes your name or company name, such as “janesmith”

Using a professional email address shows you are serious about your business communication and committed to presenting a professional image. It also makes it easier for the recipient to identify you and your company.

Keep the email concise and to the point

Sure, you could write a thousand-word essay when emailing a friend, but your boss would hate that. They may not bother reading the five chunky text blocks you sent. This is why emails to be sent formally should be concise and to the point.

Avoid writing lengthy emails that are difficult to read and understand. Keep your email concise and focused on the main message or purpose. A concise and focused email is more likely to be read and understood by the recipient and can help to avoid confusion or misunderstandings.

Bad email: Hi John, I hope this email finds you well. I just wanted to touch base to let you know that I have been working on the project we discussed last week. I have been putting much effort into it, and I think it is going well. I wanted to ask you a few questions about the project and get your feedback. Could you please let me know when you have some time to chat?

Good email: Hi John, I have a few questions about the project we discussed last week. Could you let me know when you have some time to chat?

Use a clear and specific subject line

The subject line of your email should clearly and specifically describe the purpose of the email. This can help ensure the recipient prioritizes your email and responds promptly.

A clear and specific subject line can help to ensure that your email is read and understood by the recipient and can help to avoid delays or misunderstandings.

Bad subject line: Important Information

Good subject line: Urgent Request for Meeting on Monday, May 10th

Use formal language and tone

Writing an email without formal style and tone is like wearing sweatpants to a job interview. It’s unprofessional and can negatively impact the outcome you desire.

Formal emails should use professional language and tone, avoiding slang, contractions, or informal expressions. Use proper grammar and spelling, and avoid using ALL CAPS, bold, or italics for emphasis.

Using formal language and tone can help to maintain a professional image and convey a sense of credibility, respect, and attention to detail.

Bad language: Hey John, what’s up? Can u send me the report by tmrw?

Good language: Dear John, I hope this email finds you well. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to send me the report by tomorrow.

Address the recipient correctly

Imagine receiving an email addressed to “To Whom It May Concern” or misspelling your name. It can leave a negative impression, make you feel disrespected, and damage the effectiveness of business communication. Properly addressing the recipient in a formal email is essential for establishing a positive relationship and conveying professionalism in formal email writing.

7 examples of formal emails

To give you a headstart on how to write a formal email, we’ve created a selection of formal email writing examples for situations you may encounter.

Although it can be useful to view a professional email sample, we don’t advise copying and pasting these into your own emails. Every official email you send out should be customized to your unique situation. Instead, prior to coming up with your own, consider these as a crucial tool to deepening comprehension on how to write a formal email.

Introductory email

Subject: Introduction to John Smith, New Marketing ManagerDear [Recipient],I am pleased to introduce John Smith, who has recently joined our company as the new Marketing Manager. John has extensive experience in marketing and has already made significant contributions to the team.Please join me in welcoming John to our company. I am confident that he will be a valuable asset to our team and will help us achieve our business goals.Thank you for your attention.Sincerely,[Your Name]

Formal thank you email

Subject: Thank You for Your AssistanceDear [Recipient],I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for your assistance with [describe the specific help you received]. Your expertise and support were instrumental in helping me achieve [describe the achievement or outcome].I am grateful for your time and effort, and I wanted to take a moment to thank you personally. Your professionalism and dedication are greatly appreciated.Please let me know if there is anything I can do to repay your kindness. Thank you again for your help.Best regards,[Your Name]

Resignation email

Subject: Resignation LetterDear [Manager's Name],I am writing to inform you of my resignation from [Company Name]. My last day of work will be [Date], which gives us [Amount of notice required by company policy] notice.I want to thank you and the rest of the team for the opportunities and experiences that I have gained while working at [Company Name]. I have learned a great deal during my time here, and I will always appreciate the support and encouragement that I received from everyone.Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make the transition process smoother. I will do everything I can to ensure a seamless handover of my responsibilities.Thank you again for everything, and I wish the best wishes for you and the team continued success in the future.Sincerely,[Your Name]

Time-off request email

Subject: Time-Off RequestDear [Manager's Name],I am writing to request time off from work for [number of days/hours] from [start date] to [end date]. I would like to use my vacation time for this period.I have made arrangements to ensure that all of my work will be completed or delegated to another team member before my departure. Please let me know if there are any specific tasks or projects that require my attention before I leave.Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to returning to work after my time off.Sincerely,[Your Name]

Sales pitch to a client

Subject: Introducing [Product/Service]Dear [Client Name],I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to introduce you to [Product/Service], our latest offering that can help your business grow.[Include a brief description of the product/service and its benefits to the client's business]We believe that [Product/Service] can make a significant difference in your business, and we would be happy to schedule a call or meeting to discuss it further.Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a demo of [Product/Service].Thank you for considering [Company Name] for your business needs.Best regards,[Your Name]

Formal apology

Subject: Apology for [Describe the Incident]Dear [Recipient's Name],I am writing to express my sincere apologies for [Describe the incident and what went wrong]. We understand how important [The affected party's concern] is to you, and we are sorry for any inconvenience or frustration caused.We take [The affected party's concern] seriously, and we are taking steps to ensure that a similar situation does not happen again. [Describe the steps taken to address the issue]We value your business and would like to offer [Compensation or gesture of goodwill, if appropriate]. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to make things right.Thank you for your understanding and patience.Sincerely,[Your Name]

Formal reminder for an important event

Subject: Reminder: [Event Name/Date]Dear [Recipient],I am writing to remind you of the upcoming [Event Name/Date]. We hope you can join us for [Briefly describe the event and its purpose].The event will be held on [Date/Time] at [Location]. Please RSVP by [RSVP Date], so we can make the necessary arrangements.We look forward to seeing you at the event. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.Thank you for your attention.Sincerely,[Your Name]

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