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Video:Learn ESL: Tips for Writing a Business Email

with V. Victoria Shroff

Writing business emails is a standard daily practice in just about any type of office, so it's important to know the proper protocol for writing them. This About.com video will explain how to write a business email.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn ESL: Tips for Writing a Business Email

Hello, I'm V. Victoria Shroff with Shroffcommunications@yahoo.ca in Vancouver, BC, for About.com. In this video, you will receive tips for how to write a business email.

Email is a short form of the word electronic mail. It is a communication sent electronically over the internet. An email can be used as an inter-office or internal written communication tool or it can be sent to someone outside the company or institution.  

Questions Before Writing a Business Email

Before you begin writing a business email, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. What is the intended purpose of the email that I plan to write?
  2. Who is the intended recipient? 

Writing the Business Email

Once you have thought carefully about the preliminary questions and gathered the necessary facts and email addresses, you can begin composing the email.

Email does not usually follow the format of a letter. In fact, most email programs have as a template the built-in formatting of a memo, with the to, from, date, time and subject line built in. Email should be written in short, succinct sentences so that the points you need to make are made briefly and clearly. Keep in mind at all times the K.I.S.S. principle, which stands for "keep it short and simple."

Emails can also be somewhat informal within a corporate or institutional setting, but this does not mean that slang should be used or that etiquette can be set aside. In fact, proper etiquette, punctuation and grammar are key points to business writing.  

Components of a Business Email

Generally, there are 5 basic components to an email:

  1. Heading - The first line is the 'From' line. This 'from' line will have your name on it. The next is the 'To' line and this line is where you list the email addresses of all of the recipients within your office and those outside your office who will be receiving a copy of your email. The date is automatically created by the email program. The fourth line is the 'Re' or 'Subject' line.  Here you list what your email is about. Be very clear and specific as to what topic or issue you are emailing about. The more specific you are, the quicker a recipient will understand what you are trying to communicate.
  2. Main Body - This is the core section. List your main concern first. Put in some detailed information as to what is in issue, but keep the KISS principle in mind. 
  3. Closing - List your suggestions for how to address the core issues or problems. Specify the steps that need to be taken, by when and by whom. 
  4. Attachments - You may choose to put back up information, such as a report, in another document that can be attached to your email, but if you do, be sure to make reference to this fact in the closing.  
  5. Signature Line - This can be your template signature or you can type in your name.

Once you have completed writing the email, but before you press 'Send,' read it again and ask yourself if you have fully answered the preliminary questions clearly. Who was the email intended for and was the purpose fully met. 

Final Points to Remember

  • While an email is not a letter, salutary remarks are polite and should usually be included.
  • You can also attach or scan a formal business letter or memo to an email.
  • Make good use of formatting by underlining or highlighting key points.
  • You may want to include your email address and phone number in the signature line for convenience.
  • You should follow business etiquette or netiquette at all times.

Thank you for watching. For more information, go to About.com.

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