Writing Professional Emails: Part 1 – Understanding the Recipient Fields
Writing Professional Emails: Part 2 – Know Your Audience and Greeting Styles
Writing Professional Emails: Part 3 – Fonts and Formatting
Writing Professional Emails: Part 4 – Main Body Written Content
Writing Professional Emails: Part 5 – Signatures
Writing Professional Emails Part 6 – Attachments
Writing Professional Emails: Part 7 – Replying Etiquette and Features
This article is written to provide you with a high-level understanding of what is included in the main message of an email, along with formatting.
Before you begin writing your email message, it is important to ask yourself some key questions like “What is the purpose of this email?”, “What information is important to communicate regarding the topic?”, and “Who is the audience that is going to read it?”.
When you ask yourself these questions, you are giving yourself an opportunity to reflect on the intent of the message you are about to communicate, including what information to impart and how you will adapt your writing style so the recipients understand what is being communicated to them.
Previously in this series we discussed the components to consider when preparing to write your email, in this part of the series, we are going to discuss writing the main email message.
As mentioned in part 2 of this series, we recommend refraining from using gender specific pronouns or terminologies, as this may be considered disrespectful to assume what gender someone identifies as. When greeting your recipient(s), use terminology that does not specify a gender such as using the recipients preferred name or generalizing the group of individuals in categories like “employees,” “staff,” “everyone,” or “team.” You can also greet the recipients by simply saying “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon.”
Main Message Content
When it comes to writing the main message, best practice is to stick to one topic at a time and only provide information relevant to it. This ensures that the recipients are focused on the main topic that is being communicated to them, when messages are lengthy and jump around, it can cause confusion or lead to miscommunication.
Emails are not the time to show off your intellect on a topic. This is why we suggest refraining from writing everything you know about a topic and only relaying factual information that is relevant to be communicated.
Since emails are not intended to show off your intellect on a topic, we recommend writing in an executive summary format to ensure that what you are communicating is not intimidating to read. It is more appealing on the eyes when you write in an executive summary format, as it takes less time for the recipients to read and understand what is being communicated to them.
You do not want to be known as “that person,” the person who writes lengthy emails that people ultimately take to ignoring or skimming through, so set the tone right from the start by keeping your emails to an executive summary which contains only pertinent information relevant to the topic! By doing this, you increase the recipient’s engagement, comprehension, and response rate.
In circumstances where your message might be lengthy, you have the option to either attach an internal memo document ( available to download below) which outlines the details of your message or to use bullet point lists to capture key points for readability purposes, as seen below.
Once your message is written, now it’s time to conclude your message. When concluding your message, please provide the recipients with further instructions on any actions that maybe required with a deadline or who to contact if they have any questions or concerns regarding the email topic.
Please Note: More often than not, recipients may need further explanations. This is why we recommend concluding your message with who to contact, so their questions or concerns are answered.
Using approachable language in your message is always best practice, as this increases the chance that your email is going to be received in a positive tone, maintains professionalism, and demonstrates respect. We would like to remind you to please use caution with approachable language, as it can be easy to begin writing in a “familiar” style, which can be perceived as disrespectful towards certain personnel who you have no relationship with or have a high authority/profile position. To learn more about this topic, keep an eye out for our future article on Non-Violent Communication.
When writing your email communique, we recommend paying close attention to grammar and spelling, a common mistake for writers is relying on spellcheck or autocorrect, as this feature does not always catch all errors or “correct” spelling. We recommend doublechecking the spelling of names, titles, products, etc.
When you uppercase entire words or use excessive punctuation, recipients may assume that you are yelling or disingenuous as they read your email. It is best practice to only use uppercase when writing out acronyms and using no more than one punctuation mark consecutively.
If your email has different topics, relating to similar topics (as seen above), it is best practice to use bolded headers, so recipients understand when a new section with information is going to be discussed.
There are times when you may need to redirect recipients to an external/internal weblink in an email message, to ensure the message remains as short and simple as possible, take the time to shorten the URLs, so the message looks clean and not cluttered with unnecessary written content.
Now that you understand how to write the main message of an email, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you that an email is a permanent document. So please take caution when writing, refrain from writing anything that could potentially come back to haunt you. Always be aware to keep emails straightforward and respectful, as the message could be easily misinterpreted and scrutinized.
Please stay tuned for part 5 of this series when we discuss Email Signatures.
Download our resource Writing Professional Emails – Part 4 – Guide and Template (zip).