Table of Contents
- 18 Tips to Craft the Perfect Professional Email
- #1: Don’t abuse the word URGENT
- #2: If it’s longer than three paragraphs, STOP
- #3: Start new chains
- #4: Use a hierarchy of facts
- #5: Contain your emotion
- #6 Add the address last
- #7: End on a call to action
- #8: Use TextExpander (or a tool like it)
- Unlock the Secrets of Charisma
- #9: Choose your mode carefully...
- #10: Write a great subject line
- #11: Greet your recipient
- #12: Choose your tone and template
- #13: Sign off
- #14: Include a professional email signature
- #15: Check your grammar
- #16: Increase Send Delay to Avoid Delivery Horror
- #17: Become an email spy
- #18: Make canned responses
- Professional Email Examples
- Email template #1: The job offer
- Email template #2: The resignation letter
- Email template #3: The apology
- Email template #4: The sick day email
- Email template #5: The meeting
- Professional Email Checklist
- Email Like a Boss
Every second that goes by, over 3 million emails are sent and received. So if you want to write a remarkable professional email (that stands out!), this guide is just for you.
Writing a professional email the right way has amazing benefits:
- Get your emails opened, read, and responded to faster
- Be more charismatic (yes, we can definitely do this over email)
- Build your professional credibility by sending clear, concise emails
Watch my video on the best email tips:
Let’s dive in!
18 Tips to Craft the Perfect Professional Email
I have some great email templates down below, but I want to start with the 18 tips to creating a great email.
#1: Don’t abuse the word URGENT
This is URGENT, I need it back ASAP. It’s SUPER IMPORTANT because I’m writing in all caps.
When I see ‘URGENT’ in an email subject, my heart starts to race. I think about actually urgent things like bloodshed or falling off a cliff or Youtube being down–you know, the really serious things.
If you overuse ASAP and URGENT you run the risk of people taking you less seriously when it is actually urgent down the line. Don’t be like the boy who cried wolf.
Take-Away: Don’t use ASAP, URGENT, IMPORTANT unless it is really, really ASAP, URGENT, or IMPORTANT.
#2: If it’s longer than three paragraphs, STOP
“How to write a good email: 1. Write your email 2. Delete most of it 3. Send.”— Dan Munz
If you think your email is too long, it actually might be! If you can save someone time by making your email shorter, they will be ten times more appreciative than having to read a long email (those are likely to be ignored or saved for later!).
Take-Away: If your email is longer than three paragraphs, consider calling. Or perhaps talk in-person. It might even be easier to set up a video call, especially if you are part of a virtual team. Whatever you do, avoid writing a novel in your email!
#3: Start new chains
Have you ever got an email where the subject is just filled with forwards and replies? Or have you ever been on an email chain that is 48 threads long and has nothing to do with the subject or the original question?
Let’s stop the madness! If you are on a chain that doesn’t have to do with the original subject, or it has gone so far off course that you have no idea where you started… then it’s time to start a new chain. Everyone on the thread will thank you.
Take-Away: Don’t let your email chains last forever. A good email should always be retired.
#4: Use a hierarchy of facts
This is my super advanced tip for exceptional email skills. Always put the most important idea up top. At best, people skim their emails. At worst, they don’t finish reading them. Don’t bury your lead. If you have a big question or a big idea, put it right up top so you have a better chance of someone actually seeing it. This is just one of many email mistakes you can make, but is the most important for increasing your response rate.
Take-Away: Get your big idea out as soon as possible.
#5: Contain your emotion
Emotions can destroy your email credibility. And it can go one of two ways.
Overly excited emails can drive people crazy:
- Quadruple exclamation points (!!!!)
- 5 smiley faces (:D 😀 😀 😀 :D) and
- 3 hearts (♥♥♥) later….
… and your email cred is at zero. I love excitement, but don’t get too excited… especially about emojis. You also want to avoid emotional emailing. This is when you are angry, upset, or irritated and you email everyone something a little nasty. I promise you WILL regret it.
Take-Away: If your heart is pounding while you are writing an email, then STOP. Take a break then revisit the email in 24 hours.
Side note: Regarding emojis, it’s fine to throw out an emoji or two, to more familiar friends and closer relationships! I use them sparingly because using them too much might conjure up bad memories of high school for your email recipient. =)
#6 Add the address last
Here’s a big rookie mistake. You open an email and start from the top. To: Subject: Message. Wrong! Always add the address last. You never know when that pesky send button gets a life of its own.
#7: End on a call to action
As a reader at the end of an email, you have two choices: Reply or ignore. As a sender, you always want them to reply. The best way to increase your response rates is to always end your email on a call to action. If you really want to get fancy you can bold it…
Take-Away: What’s the one thing you need them to do, answer, or ask? End on this to make it easy for them to reply.
#8: Use TextExpander (or a tool like it)
Have you ever heard of a tool like TextExpander?
This tool can allow you to create templated messages to take your emails to the next level.
Whether you’re emailing to:
- Reply to a support ticket
- Respond to someone asking for an update
- Update your coworkers on the weekly agenda
- Send out a thank-you email
…Or any email you send out on a regular basis, then this one’s a huge time-saver.
Here’s how it works: simply type a keyword to have your pre-typed message magically appear.
For example, type “;warm” for your warm response to pop up:
Thanks so much for writing in. I appreciate you taking the time to think about this. Here’s what I think we should do…”
That could all pop up when I type “;warm”. Or, for a gratitude closer, you can save a word like “;gratitude” and have a message like this pop up:
“I’m so grateful for your email!
Remember, here’s a recap of how to prepare for our upcoming video call…”
By the way, we have an entire chapter on verbal cues in our latest book and how you can use words to create a better impression at work.
Unlock the Secrets of Charisma
Control and leverage the tiny signals you’re sending – from your stance and facial expressions to your word choice and vocal tone – to improve your personal and professional relationships.
#9: Choose your mode carefully…
Email is not your only option! In fact, email is only the best option for certain situations. You can also make email better.
Before you even consider sending out an email, see if it is the best mode of communication. Should you be conveying your message in-person, through a voice message, phone call, chat or video call? Or better yet, should you add a video? Video emails are the new thing…
Here are my channel “rules of thumb”:
- 1 sentence → chat: If you are writing an email that is only one sentence, consider just chatting it to the person.
- 3 paragraphs → Phone call, voxer, or video email. If you are writing more than 3 paragraphs consider a phone call, a voxer, or a bomb bomb video email.
- More than 5 questions → Video call. If you are asking more than 5 questions in an email, consider making it a video call so you can discuss and build on answers.
Bottom line: Sometimes email is great! And sometimes it is not your best first choice.
#10: Write a great subject line
Did you know a single word can make or break your email? According to Quicksprout, a one word difference in an email subject line changed visitors’ click rate by 46%!
To create a great email subject line, great copywriters use a method called the “four U’s”:
Unique subject lines are anti-boring and fun, like: “Wanted: My missing pizza slice. Cash reward: Optional.” or “It happens tomorrow… our meeting.”
Ultra-specific subject lines are straight to the point: “Here’s the Q2 2020 Financial report” and “Updated due date for Editorial Calendar.”
Urgent subject lines are either a hit or miss (I’ll cover more of that later). It’s best to avoid using words of urgency unless your email is really important.
Useful subject lines contain what your audience will find useful. This goes back to knowing your target audience—what will they consider beneficial to them?
Pro Tip: User gamasco from Reddit mentions a great tip you can use in your next email. Clearly state what you want in the first line of your e-mail, while only providing the context in the email’s body. For example, you might have a subject line, “Here’s the new friendship article—please edit” with the details in the body. This helps save both time and cognitive load by being to-the-point!
#11: Greet your recipient
This is the first thing in the body of the email, and one thing that a lot of people forget. When writing a business email, it’s important to always include a salutation, just like if you’re greeting someone for the first time. Here are some common examples:
Be sure you get their spelling right! I always hit archive when someone spells my name Vannessa. Or calls me Victoria–happens weekly. Yes, really.
#12: Choose your tone and template
There are 2 different ways you can approach your business email: casual and formal. If you take the casual approach, you can build rapport faster. If you go formal, you’re being safer but keeping that barrier up.
The tone you choose all depends on your company culture and who you’re talking to. If it’s a friend / your neighbor / close coworker, you can probably get away with the casual approach. If it’s your boss, supervisor, or hiring manager, well…
“Sup, bro! How’s work goin’ today?” doesn’t sound so good, unless you two are BFF’s. Try using these phrases in your email to choose either a casual or formal tone:
|How’s it going?||How are you?|
|Hey John!||Dear John,|
|Wanna grab some lunch together?||Would you like to grab lunch sometime?|
|I finished the project!||The project was completed.|
|I’ll get you the article ASAP.||I will send you the article as soon as possible.|
|I’m so happy to meet you!||I am happy to make your acquaintance.|
Since the body of the message is the bulk of your email, I’ve also created professional email templates and examples you can use—whether it’s a job offer, resignation letter, apology email, and more (more on these later).
#13: Sign off
This is the last part of your written email where you sign off with a closing remark. The sign off should wrap up your message and for the most part, end on a high note!
Here are some examples of common email sign offs you can use:
#14: Include a professional email signature
An amazing signature is the final chance you have at making a lasting impression. You can opt to sign off by simply typing your name (ie. Vanessa Van Edwards), but it lacks a certain unique factor that a signature can have.
You can go all out with your signature—I’ve seen so many fancy email signatures that look amazing, like this animated signature by Jennifer Jones:
Eye-catching photo, gifs, and chocolate!? It looks amazing, but many email services may just send it as an attachment or block it altogether since it takes up a lot of precious email real estate.
Instead, my best tip for email signatures is: Keep it simple! No images, plain text, to-the-point.
Having a great, simple email signature makes you memorable and look professional. It can be as simple as your full name and position:
Or you can add links to market yourself and show that you have / are working for a reputable company. Here is the one I currently use…
#15: Check your grammar
Grammarly reviewed 100 LinkedIn profiles of native English-speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry. The findings?
- Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their LinkedIn profiles were promoted to higher positions. The ones who didn’t make it to director-level positions made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes.
- Fewer grammar errors correlated with more promotions. The professionals who only had 1 to 4 promotions over their careers made 45% more grammar errors compared to those who received 6 to 9 promotions.
But you probably didn’t need a study for you to know that grammar is important. Some people, like Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, won’t even hire people who use poor grammar. Check your emails for proper grammar using tools like Grammarly— it might mean the difference between inviting someone out for lunch and eating them!
#16: Increase Send Delay to Avoid Delivery Horror
Have you ever accidentally hit the “Send” button too early and your reaction was something like Gloria’s from Modern Family:
If so… you are not alone. Luckily, you can fix it by increasing your send delay.
What is the send delay?
The send delay is the countdown timer that starts right after you hit the send button. It’s a great feature to have for catching any last-minute typos, or if you have a last-minute change of heart before sending that angry email to your coworker.
Here’s how: If you’re using Gmail like I am, head on over to the settings.
Next, under the General tab, look for the ‘Undo Send’ option. Increase the send cancellation period from the default 5 seconds to 30 seconds.
Finally, save your changes and you are set!
#17: Become an email spy
When we send a Facebook message, we know when someone reads it. Why not email? Sending a little notification if someone opened your email should be a default feature, so you know if someone reads your email… or if they’re just ignoring it.
Knowing when someone reads your email keeps you one step ahead of the game.
The best way to track when your email has been read is to use HubSpot Sales.
HubSpot Sales is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to track opens and clicks of an email (and it’s not just for sales!).
The best part? The person who opens the email won’t know it’s being tracked. This way you’re undercover, like a ninja camouflaged under the darkness of the night, your email recipient none-the-wiser. You’ll be a true “email spy”!
#18: Make canned responses
Did you know you can save all the email templates in this article to your email account and use them again and again to your heart’s content (hopefully not the resignation one!)? Here’s how to do this in Gmail:
- Under the Settings —> Advanced tab, make sure that Templates are enabled.
- Click on the Compose button on the upper left corner to create a new email.
- Copy one of the email templates below and paste it into the email, or craft your own go-to email that you plan on reusing.
- Click on the 3 dots on the bottom right of the email —> Hover over Templates —> Save draft as template —> Save as new template.
- Finished! You now have a brand new template email you can reuse for later.
Professional Email Examples
So you’ve got an important email to send. If you don’t know how to start a professional email, I’ve got you covered! Professional email formats vary, so here’s a list of email templates you can use as a “cheat sheet” for a variety of situations. Starting with…
Email template #1: The job offer
Got a job offer or looking to give one? Great! Jobs change lives, so it’s important to send a great professional job email. Here’s how to write an email for a job you want to offer, accept a job offer, or decline a job offer through email.
Offering a Job
Every good job offer email should highlight 7 employment details, including:
- Acknowledgment of Offer. The first thing you should do is let your potential employee know that you have a job offer for him / her.
- Job / position title. Clearly state the position of the job, as well as any additional duties he / she may not be aware of.
- Summary of benefits and salary. Highlight any important benefits of this position.
- Starting date. Include your proposed start date, and offer flexibility (if any).
- Expression of excitement or gratitude. Clearly indicate your gratitude and thank your potential employer for the interview process.
- Attached employee agreement / contract. Attach a detailed form, and ask for a signature of acceptance, if needed.
Offering a job email example:
Here’s a job offer email that Scott, Science of People CEO, wrote for one of our new team members (sensitive information removed):
Accepting a job offer email template:
Subject line: Job Offer from [Company name]
Dear [insert recipient’s name],
Thank you very much for our call yesterday! I am very excited to speak with you and hear about your enthusiasm for this position. We are thrilled to offer you the position of [position name] at [Company name].
I have attached our employment agreement for your review, but here are some details:
[summary of benefits, including salary]
We would be excited for you to start next week on [starting date], if you’re available at that time. Please let me know if a different date would work better.
If you have any other questions or concerns please let us know and we’d be happy to answer. We’re very excited to welcome someone with your passion and talent to help spread the word far and wide.
Accepting a Job Offer Email Template
Got a job offer? Great! You have a few options depending on your next step:
- Accepting the Offer. This can be as simple as expressing your thanks and gratitude, and filling out any forms or contracts (if any).
- Thinking things through. If you need time, you can let your potential employer know that you will need a few business days to make a decision.
- Negotiating a position. Before you negotiate, read our science-backed article on how to negotiate!
When accepting a job offer, keep these things in mind:
- Write a clear subject line. Clearly state you are accepting the offer in the subject line.
- Repeat that you’re accepting the position. Again, repeat your acceptance in the first line, along with the position title and company.
- Show thanks. Thank the company and / or hiring person for the opportunity.
- Give a summary. Restate and acknowledge your acceptance of the offer conditions, including the salary, benefits, and start date.
- Offer your support. Ask the recipient if he / she needs anything else from you.
- End on a high note!
Accepting a job offer email template:
Subject line: Job Offer Acceptance – [Your name]
Dear [insert recipient’s name],
I will gladly accept the offered position at [company name] for the position of [job title]. Thank you very much for this exciting opportunity to be a part of the team.
I have fully read the employee agreement and have attached a signed copy to this email. I confirm that my starting salary will be [salary amount] and my starting date will be on [date].
If there is anything else you need from me prior to the start date, please let me know. You can contact me by phone at [phone number] or reach me by email. I am excited to work alongside you and the rest of the team shortly!
Pro tip: Want to make a lasting impression? Try giving a phone call to your new employer instead of writing an email.
Declining a Job Offer
Have you ever heard of the rejection study where they found a broken heart feels the same as a broken arm? Rejection hurts— even to your potential employer. Here’s how to (kindly) reject your job offer in 4 steps:
- State the offer. Include the company name and offered job position.
- Show thanks. Express your gratitude for their time and efforts.
- Decline the offer. Keep this step brief and try not to get too-detailed.
- End it on a high note!
Turning down a job offer email template:
Subject line: Job offer – [Your name]
Dear [insert recipient’s name],
Thank you for offering me the role at [company name] for the position of [job title]. It was a pleasure to talk with you, and I appreciate you taking time to interview me.
It was a difficult decision, but I have decided to decline the offer because [I have accepted a position at another company / I will stay at my current position with my company / I have chosen to pursue a different career direction].
Again, thank you for your time and consideration, and I hope our paths will cross in the future.
Email template #2: The resignation letter
Quitting your job is never easy, especially over email. When resigning, it’s best to do it in-person and follow up with a physical letter, or even over the phone. But if you have to do it by email (for example, if you’re a work at home employee) there are some guidelines to follow:
- Put it in the subject line. You want to be clear, so add the word “resignation” or “resigning” somewhere in your subject line.
- State your position. No matter how small the company, it’s important to state your position and / or company name—after all, this is a formal resignation email, and it’s a good idea to keep tabs.
- Give a 2-week notice. This is the norm across all jobs in America, and it helps establish a good relationship with you and your employer. If you can’t give a two-week notice, give as much time as you can. Let your employer know the day you are resigning.
- Express gratitude. Show thanks for the opportunity you had to work with your employer. Do NOT talk negatively about your employer—this is email after all, and all records are never erased.
- Give your reason. Keep your reason short and don’t go into specifics, unless you are really close with your employer.
- Offer your support. Make sure your company knows you are open to helping them during your transition.
- Leave your contact info. If your company needs to contact you in the future for any reason, leave your contact information for them.
Pro tip: Avoid discussing your resignation with your coworkers before it is official. This will avoid any unnecessary drama and potential “secrets” getting leaked to your boss.
Resignation Email example:
Resigning from a job email template:
Subject line: Resignation – [Your name]
Dear [insert recipient’s name],
I am sending this email to inform you of my resignation of [job title] at [company name], effective [date]. I wanted to let you know that it was an amazing experience working here and I wanted to thank you and the team for the support and great times we had together.
I know this is quite sudden, but I have decided to resign because [reason]. If I can be of any help during this transition, or if you need anything from me before my resignation date, please let me know.
You can also contact me at [telephone number] or [email].
Again, thank you so much for the opportunity to work at [company name]. I am truly grateful for having worked here, and I hope we keep in touch in the future.
Email template #3: The apology
Oh, you messed up? That’s okay, we all make mistakes! The problem is, how do we own our mistakes?
First, here’s what NOT to say, courtesy of a tweet from United Airlines:
The phrase “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers” doesn’t seem so sincere, does it? That’s why there was a lot of public backlash for this “apology.”
Luckily, there are some tips to make a great professional apology email without coming off as insincere:
- Subject line. Say “I’m sorry”, or “I apologize”. Be sure you mean it!
- Address your values. State your beliefs and values, and why you are a person of good moral character and trust.
- Address the issue. Explain the mistake you made, and why this one mistake contradicts your values.
- Say you’re sorry. This needs to be genuine and in your own words, if possible. Avoid pointing fingers and own your mistake.
- Explain your game plan. This is the most important part. Tell your recipient how you will change or what actions you will take to make things better.
- Ask for forgiveness. Don’t be afraid to show a little emotion to demonstrate how sorry you really are.
Apology email example:
Thankfully, incorporating the above tips, United Airlines did much better with their official apology email:
“We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred” sounds much better! Plus, the full email explains all the changes United Airlines will make to prevent this issue from happening again.
Apology email template:
Subject line: I’m so sorry – [Your name]
Hey [insert recipient’s name],
I know it’s important to [state value / belief]. That’s why I feel bad when I [mistake here].
I apologize for doing that. I have no excuse for making that mistake, and I really want to show you how I can do better next time. In order to make up to you, I will [do x,y,z].
Please forgive me for my mistake. I really hope you can accept my deepest apologies.
Email template #4: The sick day email
We’ve all been there: You wake up one day with a scratchy feeling in your throat and a dizzy, hot feeling in your head. You’re sick, and you’ve got an even bigger problem—you need to tell your boss.
Here’s how to write the perfect sick day email in 6 steps:
- Clear subject. Like any other professional email, write the subject clearly like “Sick Day – [Your Name]”.
- List your reason. Let your employer know that you are feeling sick, and what is preventing you from coming to the office. This can be anything from “fever” to “cough” to simply “not feeling well.”
- Your expected ETA. Let your employer know when you expect to come back. If you don’t know when, let them know you will come back on a specific date as long as you get better.
- Tell them your availability. Depending on how sick you are, you can tell your employer that you’ll be available to contact by email or phone. If you’re too sick to do either, let them know that you won’t be checking your email.
- Reschedule. Got an important meeting? Project due? Outline in your email that you will be rescheduling them for a later date. You can even ask a colleague to help out if possible.
- Give credit. Make sure you note any doctor’s notes or hospital forms you can send to your employer so they know what you’re up to during your sick day.
Pro tip: Don’t wait. The earlier, the better… especially if you don’t know if you’re going to spend the day at home or at the doctor’s office. And if you’re already late? Send in that email ASAP!
Sick day email template:
Subject line: Sick Day – [Your name]
Hey [insert recipient’s name],
I wanted to let you know as soon as possible that I will not be coming into work today because [I’ve had a fever since last night / my stomach hurts / I caught the flu]. I went to the doctor’s office, and I’ve been told I can return starting tomorrow, as long as my symptoms clear. I can provide a doctor’s note for you when I come back to the office.
I will also be available to [check emails / work remotely] while I am recovering at home. As for the meeting scheduled today, it will be best if we can reschedule it for tomorrow.
Thank you for understanding,
Email template #5: The meeting
Setting up the meeting is just as important as the meeting itself.
Whether you’re setting up a meeting with someone familiar or with people you don’t know, time conflicts or an unclear agenda can plummet your chances of having a meeting down the hole. Here are some expert tips and a super simple email template you can follow for the perfect meeting email, everytime.
- Subject line. Have a specific subject line such as “New Meeting this Friday” or “Scheduling a Meeting”.
- State the reason. What is the reason for the meeting? Be specific on the problems or updates you’d like to tackle. This will be your agenda for the meeting.
- Give the time and date. Set up an appropriate time that works for everyone. In the case you are unsure, you can also suggest different times for the meeting.
Setting up a meeting template:
Subject line: New Meeting this Friday
Hey [insert recipient’s name / everyone],
I wanted to reach out and set up a meeting to [address problems / give updates]. Can we meet at [time and date]?
Please confirm if this works for you, or if another time or place works instead. I look forward to our meeting!
Follow up email after meeting template:
Did you set up a meeting but get no reply? Studies show that if it’s been more than 2 days, you’re 90% likely to not get a reply. Perhaps your email got buried underneath a hoard of other emails. Here’s a quick follow-up email:
Subject line: Are you coming?
Hey [insert recipient’s name],
I haven’t heard back in a while. I was just checking up to see if you are coming to the scheduled meeting!
Thank you email after meeting template:
Did you have an AMAZING meeting? Did you learn something new from the others who attended? Try expressing your thanks to these wonderful people! This is also a great opportunity to provide value (aka introduce people to each other)!
Subject line: Seriously, great meeting!
Hey [insert recipient’s name]!
Thank you so much for our meeting earlier today. It was great getting to know your thoughts on [agenda topic]. You are really good at [explaining / giving presentations/ etc.]. Plus, I really enjoyed our conversation about [something interesting].
There’s someone I met earlier who’s really good at [relevant topic]. That person is [His / Her name] who works at [Company name]. I think they can really provide some insight into what we talked about earlier. Can I introduce you two?
Again, thank you for the excellent meeting earlier. I am positive that your recommendation will turn out great! I hope we can keep in contact and talk again soon.
Professional Email Checklist
Here’s a final checklist before you send out your professional email. Make sure your email covers everything before you hit that “Send” button!
- Does my email contain an email subject line with at least one of the 4 U’s?
- Do I properly greet the email recipient using either casual or formal tone?
- Do I clarify my intentions for writing within the first paragraph?
- Have I proofread my email for grammar or spelling mistakes?
- Have I noted any attachments inserted into the email?
- Does the ending contain a call to action?
- Did I close with an appropriate sign-off?
Email Like a Boss
Here’s a final little bonus for you. Check out this handy go-to email guide I love from @danidonovanl: