email writing · writing tips

Basic Email Course: The Structure of Your Email

email

I’ve had some questions about what your email should contain. So I’ve made a check list of the things that should be in your email.

What You Should Include in Your Email

The basic structure is like this:

1.       Greeting:

Hi John, Hello Deirdre, Dear Ms Smith

If you’d like to learn more about greetings, go here.

2.      Opening sentence.

The opening sentence can do several things:

A Tell your reader where they know you from.

B State the purpose of your email. It can be an informative email, a complaint letter, a request, to ask a question, or to sell something. Don’t leave the reader guessing what your email is about. Many people get an awful lot of emails and if they won’t understand what your email is about in the first seconds, there is a chance they won’t read it until the end…

C Tell your reader what to expect. Is this a sad email, start by: We’re sorry to inform you that…

If this is good news, start with: We’re glad to inform you that…

An article about openings is here.

3.      The main body of your message.

You can have several subjects to talk about. In that case, you should also announce this in your opening sentence.

What are some rules to follow in the body of your email?

A Keep the language simple: Write shorter sentences. In most business emails, one comma (,) is enough.

B Avoid wordy descriptive nouns, adjectives or connectors. Instead of writing “We are awaiting your taking action” write: “We’re waiting for your response.”

Instead of writing “We’ll be holding a discussion regarding this issue,” write: “We’ll be discussing this issue.”

Instead of writing “We’ll be looking into this matter shortly and will send you a confirmation about our decision,” write: “We’ll communicate our decision as soon as we have one.”

A bonus of keeping your language simple is you will make fewer mistakes!

C Divide your text into paragraphs. A text with paragraphs is much easier to read and understand.

4.    Instruction on the next step  

The last line is to give some instruction about what you’d like your reader to do next. 

For example:

A Ask them to get back to you:

Could you let me know by Thursday 5 December what your decision is?

B Execute some request:

Please handle my request to transfer money to my savings account asap.

C Ask for a confirmation:

Please let me know whether my proposed price offer is okay with you.

I’ll be awaiting your confirmation that our meeting is Wednesday 4 December at 2.

D You confirm something:

Your account will be handled by H. Dreisler, whose extension number is 9548.

The e-tickets will be sent to you asap.

Your rental car voucher will be emailed to you within five business days.

E You’ve covered all the points you wanted to say, and now you’re just waiting for an action to start:

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Should you need further assistance, our helpdesk is available 24/7.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

F You can say thanks:

Thank you for your assistance/pleasant cooperation/time and attention.

5.      Closing:

This usually takes the form of Yours sincerely (Br.) or Sincerely yours (Am.) when you don’t know the people. If you do know them, you write Best regards or Kind regards. “Best” will also do, as will “best wishes.” When you write to a friend you can also close with Yours, Cheers or See you.

The Subject Line

Something that is very important is the subject line. You don’t write this in your email, but in the box above your email. I’m sure you know what box I’m talking about.

subject-line

My tip here is to be as specific as you can. Don’t be vague or too short.

Have a look at some bad and good subject lines:

  1. Bad subject line: Change

Good subject line: Deadline of Teocane Project Put Forward

  1. Bad subject line: Your Job Application

Good subject line: Request for Job Interview

  1. Bad subject line: Meeting

Good subject line: Our Meeting on Thursday 5 December

Please note: There is no full stop (.) at the end of your subject line. You Should Capitalize All the Important Words.

Exercise

Improve the following subject lines:

  1. Bad subject line: Brochure

Good subject line:

This email is from a travel agent to a client who has asked for brochures on cruises in the Caribbean.

2. Bad subject line: Holiday

Good subject line:

This email is from a friend sending his/her friend tips about cheap and good hotels to stay in while in Paris.

3. Bad subject line: Course

Good subject line:

This email is from a student asking about the dates of the English full immersion course that he/she is going to take at Oxford University in the summer of 2014.

4. Bad subject line: Wedding

Good subject line:

This email is to congratulate friends in another country on their wedding and to say sorry again that they couldn’t be there.

5. Bad subject line: Schedule

Good subject line:

This email is to say the team should speed up the project, and their new deadline is one week earlier.

Scroll down to read some possible solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suggested Answers: 

1        Good subject line: Brochures about Cruise in the Caribbean

2        Good subject line: Tips about Hotels in Paris

3        Good subject line: Dates of Full Immersion English Course

4        Good subject line: Congratulations on Your Wedding

5 Good subject line: New Deadline for Project

2 thoughts on “Basic Email Course: The Structure of Your Email

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