How to write an email P.-O. LOMBARTEIX



An email is a letter

Consequently there are rules to follow

Though there are some differences :

  • Shorter
  • Maybe (slightly) more informal

Some rules: The etiquette

  • Be brief
  • Avoid UPPERCASE !!!
  • Don’t be too informal
  • Easy on emoticons OK ?
  • Be careful with acronyms YKWIM ?
  • ASAP / COP / CU / B4N

Greeting / Opening

There basically 4 different ways to start an email

  • Dear Sir or Madam,
  • Dear Mrs, Mr, Miss, Ms Smith,
  • Dear Tom,
  • Hi,


Paragraph 1 : Why are you writing?

State clearly and right from the start why you are writing
2 options :

The « in response » email

  • Thanks for your email
  • Sorry for
  • Further to our last conversation
  • With regard to what was said during our meeting ...

The speculative email

  • I am writing to enquire,
  • I’m contacting you to ...

Paragraph 2 & 3 : The Content

  • Emails are usually received by dozens a day and should be easy to read and straightforward.
  • Make your point.
  • Be brief.
  • Use short sentences / a limited number of paragraphs

Paragraph 4 : Small talk / Social English

Consider adding some small talk to the content of your email.

But not:

  • On first occasions / contacts
  • Formal situations (when addressing your supervisor or CEO for example)

Basically there two ways to do that

  • At the start of your email
  • Before signing off

  • Long time no hear,
  • How are you? How’s life back in...?
  • Hope you’re fine and that life is treating you well


Paragraph 5 : Closing

A nice way to conclude your email before signing off :

  • Thanks a lot / Thank you very much
  • Looking forward to hearing from you
  • Let’s stay in touch,
  • Keep me posted
  • All the best, Best of luck ...

Paragraph 5 : Signing off

Depends on the opening :

  • Dear Sir or Madam,
    Yours faithfully
  • Dear Mrs, Mr, Miss, Ms Smith,
    Yours sincerely
  • Dear Tom,
    Best regards / Kind regards
  • Hi,
    B4N, Best, Take care, etc.


For typos and mistakes

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Is the file attached?


Example # 1 Formal / Answering

Dear Mr Jones,

Thanks for your last email. I’m fully aware that any delay in delivery may result in production problems and financial loss on your side. Consequently, I can assure you that we will do the best we can to dispatch goods in due time. However we are working with subcontractors that have their own issues to deal with so I cannot be 100% sure you’ll have the goods by Friday. However, if there are any problems, do not hesitate to get back to me and I will see if we can set up a compensation scheme.
Yours sincerely,

Deborah Clark
CEO ACME Trading

Example # 2 Informal / Asking for

Dear Tom,

Hope you’re fine. Just a quick word to ask you whether you could send me your new catalogue and a price list. As the year is drawing to a close, we’re anticipating our orders and supply needs for 2017.
Kind regards,

John Sullivan
Purchasing Manager

Template: example


Useful vocabulary # 1

@ at
Cc Carbon copy
Bcc Blind carbon copy
jo-smith Hyphen
jo_smith Underscore
josmith/ Slash
josmith\ Backslash josmith dot com
ABC Uppercase
abc Lowcase

Useful vocabulary # 2

Boîte de réception Inbox
Messages envoyés Sent
Brouillons Drafts
Joindre To attach (to enclose)
Fichier File
Suite à Further to
Dans l'attente de ... Looking forward to + BV-ing
Transférer To forward