How to Write a Formal Email: Tips and Secrets for 2024

How to Write a Formal Email: Tips and Secrets for 2024

The skill of composing powerful formal emails is a must in 2024, when emails remain a preferable form of communication for remote workers and the whole world. 

Preferred communication method among office workers (the United States)

Source: Statista

Mastering the art of crafting well-structured, impactful formal emails is more important than ever since there is no button to fix the email once you send it off. The stakes go higher when writing emails to clients or prospects.

You need to:

  • Ensure that each word is perfect and right.
  • Keep the tone professional, polite, and friendly. 
  • Make your emails clear and concise.
  • Keep conversations engaging and productive. 

Are you ready to dive into the essential tips and secrets, open more doors with your formal emails, and make a great first impression on your recipients?

Learn how to improve your style and email like a boss with our guide.

What are formal emails?

A formal email is a type of business communication. 

Professionals use it to keep in contact with colleagues or prospects by sharing information, requests, or any business communication, etc. Formal emails significantly differ from texts or emails you can send to your family and friends. 

formal email examples of formats

While compiling formal emails, it’s better to adhere to certain rules, including email etiquette guidelines. 

Formal emails can be divided into the following categories.

Type of formal emails Short description
Introductory emails These are the emails you send when you want to say “hey” to someone new, like a potential client or colleague. You’ll introduce yourself, your company, and why you think connecting would be a good idea.
Inquiry emails When you need to ask for help, info, or advice, you’ll send an inquiry email. It could be as simple as asking for clarification on something or as complex as seeking expert guidance on a project.
Announcement emails Got some big news to share? Announcement emails are perfect for letting people know about important updates, upcoming events, or new products or services.
Proposal emails When you’ve got a fantastic idea or project pitch, you’ll want to send a proposal email. This is where you’ll lay out your plan, explain the benefits, and try to get the recipient on board.
Complaint emails Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, and you need to address an issue. Complaint emails are for expressing your concerns professionally and seeking a solution.
Gratitude emails It’s always a good idea to say “thanks” when someone helps you out or does a great job. Appreciation emails show that you value the relationship and the effort put in.
Follow-up emails If you’ve sent an email and haven’t heard back, or you need to make sure something gets done, a gentle reminder or follow-up email can do the trick.
Referral emails When you come across an awesome person or business that you think others should know about, you can send a recommendation or referral email to sing their praises and make a connection.
Apology emails We all make mistakes, and when that happens, an apology email is the way to go. Own up to your slip-up, say you’re sorry, and offer to make things right.
Farewell emails Moving on to a new adventure? A farewell email lets you say goodbye to your colleagues, express your gratitude for your time together, and share your future plans.

Now that we know what formal emails are, let’s break down what they actually consist of.

What do formal emails consist of?

Formal emails have a fixed structure that you need to follow. 

It’s like a formal letter but in a digital format. The fixed structure helps ensure the highest level of formality and maintains a professional tone regardless of sending it to your new prospects or your boss.

formal email ending as a part of formal email

Here’s what you need to know about the ideal structure of a formal email.

Subject line → a concise and descriptive summary

It’s better to keep your subject line of about 7 words. Don’t try to impress your recipients with the very first words. Skip the caps lock, exclamation points, and vague words that don’t really say anything.

Here are some examples of great subject lines:

  • “Meeting Request: Discussing Q3 Marketing Strategy”
  • “Following Up: Project [X] Timeline and Deliverables”
  • “You’re Invited: Annual Industry Conference 2024”

Salutation → an appropriate greeting

If you think of “how to start a formal email,” here are all the answers. 

Formal emails cannot start with “Hey” or “Hi there”—leave these salutations to your family and friends. 

When contacting executives or prospects, it’s better to take a more formal approach in formal email greetings, like “Dear + [Name]” or “To Whom It May Concern” when you don’t know your recipients. 

Find more information about salutations (not only formal email greetings but all the conversations) in our full-scale email salutation guide

Body → the main content of the email

When you’re writing the body of your email, break it down into clear, concise paragraphs:

  1. Start with a sentence that clearly states the purpose of your email. In the middle paragraphs, give the necessary details, context, and any supporting info.
  2. Keep paragraphs short (2-3 sentences) to make your email easy to read and digest.Use bullet points or numbered lists to highlight key points or action items.
  3. Close with a summary of your main points and a clear call-to-action (what you want the person to do next, like respond, set up a meeting, or provide information).

Throughout your email, keep your language professional, clear, and respectful. Skip the slang, emojis, and crazy formatting. Stick to a simple, easy-to-read font like Arial or Calibri, and use bold or italic sparingly for emphasis.

To make sure your formal emails hit the mark every time:

  • Use the person’s preferred name and title, if you know it.
  • Double-check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Use tools like Grammarly or the built-in spellcheck in your email platform.
  • Be aware of cultural differences and sensitivities, especially if you’re emailing someone from a different country or background.
  • Keep your words clear, concise, and jargon-free. Avoid industry-specific terms or acronyms that the recipient might not know.
  • Steer clear of sarcasm, jokes, or overly casual language that could be misinterpreted or come across as unprofessional.

Closing → a polite sign-off, and action you expect

You should end your formal email with a polite closing statement that reinforces your main point or desired action:

  • Thank you for your time and consideration.
  • Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
  • I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Follow your closing statement with a professional sign-off, such as:

  • Best regards
  • Sincerely
  • Thank you

Need more options for professional ways of how to end a formal email? In this guide, you can find a lot (like, really—a lot!) closing options for your email (or, how you can call them—formal email sign-off). 

Signature → includes your full name, title, and contact details

Right after a formal email sign-off, let’s talk about email signatures. 

They might seem like a small detail, but a great signature can really make your emails stand out. Here’s an example of a well-formatted email signature:

signature generator by Reply

When designing your email signature, keep it simple, clean, and easy to read.

Here’s what to include in your signature:

  • Your full name → start with your first and last name, so people know exactly who they’re communicating with.
  • Your title or position → include your current job title or position, so recipients understand your role and expertise. If you have multiple roles or titles, choose the one that’s most relevant to the email conversation.
  • Your company or organization → if applicable, include the name of the company or organization you work for. This helps establish credibility and context for your email.
  • Your contact details → make it easy for people to reach you by including your key contact information, such as your phone number, email address, and website URL. If you have multiple phone numbers or email addresses, include the ones that are most appropriate for business communication.
  • Social media profiles → if you have professional social media profiles, like LinkedIn or Twitter, you can include links to these in your signature. This allows recipients to connect with you on other platforms and learn more about your work and expertise.
  • A professional headshot or logo → adding a small, professional headshot or your company logo can help put a face to your name and make your signature more visually engaging. Just make sure the image is high-quality and appropriate for a business setting.
  • A disclaimer or legal statement → if your company requires it, include a legal disclaimer or confidentiality statement at the bottom of your signature. This helps protect sensitive information and comply with industry regulations.

Make your own signature in a few clicks!

Boost your personal brand with our free email signature maker! Pick a layout, customize it, and you’re done. Super easy and free!

Make your signature →

By including all of these elements in a clear, concise format, your email signature will reinforce your professionalism and make it easy for people to connect with you beyond the inbox.

Before you dive into typing and writing emails, it’s better to take a moment and analyze your target audience and the reason why you need to send this email. What do you expect the recipient to do after reading your email? Share information? Set up a meeting? Share an update?

We got you covered here.

What is the purpose of writing a formal email?

Everything in the world has its own purpose, and emails aren’t an exception. 

With years in email marketing and sales, we know how to craft compelling formal emails to open doors and boost your loyalty. Here’s a simple algorithm to follow while studying your target audience:

Understand why you need to write and send this email 

Before you start writing a formal email, take a moment to think about why you’re sending the email and to whom you’re sending it. What do you want to achieve with this email? Is it to request information, set up a meeting, or share an update? 

Gather any info or documents you need to include to support your message.

Identify your recipients 

Your target audience is the people you’re writing to. Take a deep breath and consider who they are, what they do, and what your relationship is. 

They can be your colleagues, clients, stakeholders, or supervisors. 

Use these simple questions to compile a profile of your target audience:

  • What is the recipient’s role or position?
  • How well do you know them? Is this your first time communicating with them, or do you have an established relationship?
  • What is their level of knowledge or expertise on the topic you’re writing about?
  • Are there any cultural or language differences you need to be aware of?

By understanding your audience, you can tailor your language, tone, and content to their specific needs and preferences.

Define your clear objective 

Next, you need to decide what you want to achieve with your email. What is the message you want to convey and what is the action you whant your recipients to take.

Here we’ve shortlisted the goals of the formal email:

  • Requesting information or feedback
  • Providing an update or progress report
  • Scheduling a meeting or call
  • Asking for approval or permission
  • Delivering important news or announcements
  • Following up on a previous conversation or action item

Try to be clear and specific about what you want. 

It’s a bad idea to blend several goals into one email. In this case, it’s hardly possible to kill two birds with one stone. (When writing this article, no birds were harmed or killed).

What are the basics of email etiquette? 

Formal emails differ from informal ones in one crucial way—you need to follow specific rules and guidelines to sound professional. It’s essential for maintaining a professional image and building strong relationships with your recipients. 

formal sign off email should include 7C

Here are some key tips to keep in mind.

1. Address your recipients respectfully

Always address your recipients by their preferred name and title, if known. 

If you’re unsure how to address someone, err on the side of formality and use a standard salutation. You can choose one mentioned above. 

2. Don’t use colloquial words 

In a formal email, it’s best to avoid using slang, jargon, or overly casual language. 

Stick to clear, concise, professional language that anyone can understand, regardless of their background or expertise.

3. Check, run through, and proofread your email 

Before you hit “send,” take a few minutes to proofread your email for any typos, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. 

Use spell-check and grammar tools like Grammarly or Hemingway to catch any mistakes you might have missed, and read your email out loud to ensure it flows smoothly and makes sense.

4. Leave emojis for your F&F 

Avoid using emoticons, emojis, or excessive formatting like ALL CAPS, bold, italic, or colored text

While these elements can be useful for adding personality or emphasis to a casual email, they can come across as unprofessional or immature in a formal setting.

5. Pay attention to cultural differences

If you’re emailing someone from a different cultural background or country, it’s important to be mindful of potential differences in communication styles, norms, and expectations. 

What might be considered polite or professional in one culture could be seen as rude or offensive in another.

6. Keep to a respectful tone 

Be particularly careful with humor, sarcasm, or idioms, as these can easily get lost in translation or misinterpreted across cultures. \

If in doubt, err on the side of caution and stick to clear, straightforward language.

No time to explain. Give Reply a try for all your emails (including formal)

Reply is like your personal email assistant (with AI and stuff), that helps you craft killer emails in no time. 

It’s got all sorts of handy features that make the process a breeze:

1. Templates galore

Reply’s got a whole library of customizable templates for every kind of formal email you can think of: introductions, follow-ups, thank-you notes, you name it. 

Just pick a template, fill in the blanks, and boom—you’ve got a polished, professional email ready to go.

2. AI SDR

Let Reply’s AI SDR (his name is Jason if you don’t know) handle communication for you 24/7. 

It can autonomously manage conversations and book meetings on autopilot, giving you more time to focus on what matters most.

3. AI writing coach

Not sure if your email hits the mark? Reply’s AI writing assistant has got your back. It’ll give you suggestions on how to improve your email’s tone, structure, and clarity, so you can send it with confidence.

4. Multichannel outreach

Reply offers multichannel outreach to help you cover all sources of communication. Whether it’s email, social media, or phone calls, Reply has you covered, ensuring you can reach your audience wherever they are.

5. Analytics and insights

Ever wonder if your emails are actually getting read and responded to? With Reply’s email analytics, you can track things like open rates, response times, and engagement levels, so you know what’s working and what’s not.

6. All-in-one platform

Reply plays nicely with all your favorite tools and platforms, like Gmail, Outlook, HubSpot, Salesforce, and more. So you can seamlessly integrate it into your existing workflow and get even more done.

So if you want to up your formal email game and save a ton of time and hassle in the process, give Reply a try. Trust Reply, your inbox and outbox (and your sanity) will thank you.

See how Reply simplifies your workflow, keeps your calendar full, and helps you reach your sales goals easily.

Let’s do this →

What are the top formal email examples? 

From nailing the subject line to closing with a bang, these emails cover all the key elements of a winning formal email. Whether you’re writing to a colleague, a client, or your boss, you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks to steal for your own messages.

So without extra words, let’s look through a few killer formal email examples and see what makes them tick:

Example 1: The job application follow-up

So, you’ve applied for your dream job and now you’re waiting to hear back. But wait—what if you don’t? 

That’s where a friendly follow-up email can make all the difference. In this example, we’ll show you how to politely check in on your application status while reinforcing your enthusiasm for the role. 

This simple touch can help you stand out and keep your candidacy fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.

Subject line: Following Up on Marketing Manager Application – John Smith

Dear Ms. Johnson,

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out and express my continued enthusiasm for the Marketing Manager position at ABC Company. It’s been two weeks since I submitted my application, and I wanted to check in on the status of my candidacy.

As I mentioned in my application, I have over five years of experience leading successful marketing campaigns for top brands in the tech industry. I’m confident that my skills and expertise would be a valuable asset to your team, and I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to ABC Company’s growth and success.

If there’s any additional information I can provide or if you have any questions about my qualifications, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to hop on a call or meet in person to discuss further.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

John Smith

john.smith@email.com

(555) 123-4567

Example 1: The job application follow-up

This follow-up email nails the balance between being professional and enthusiastic. It keeps things positive and clear, making sure your message gets across respectfully. Let’s break down what makes this email tick.

What works:

  • Clear, specific subject line that reminds the recipient of the application and position
  • Polite, enthusiastic tone that expresses continued interest in the role
  • Brief recap of relevant qualifications and experience
  • Offer to provide additional information or meet in person
  • Professional sign-off with full name and contact details

What doesn’t work:

  • No specific details about what makes the candidate a good fit for the role
  • No mention of any recent company news or developments that could show deeper interest and research
  • Slightly generic language that could apply to any job application

Example 2: The client meeting request

Need to get your client’s input on your upcoming project? A well-crafted meeting request email can pave the way. 

In this example, we’ll guide you on how to request a meeting to discuss your Q4 marketing strategy. You’ll see how to lay out your agenda, express your appreciation for their expertise, and make it easy for them to say “yes” to your meeting.

Subject line: Requesting Meeting to Discuss Q4 Marketing Strategy

Dear John,

I hope you’re having a great week. I’m writing to request a meeting with you to discuss our Q4 marketing strategy and plan for the upcoming holiday season.

As our team has been working on the initial concepts and budget for the Q4 campaigns, we’ve identified a few key opportunities and challenges that I think would benefit from your input and guidance. In particular, I’d love to get your thoughts on:

  • Allocating budget between social media and email marketing campaigns
  • Partnering with influencers to expand our reach and engagement
  • Developing a content strategy that aligns with our overall brand messaging

If you’re available, I’d like to schedule a 45-minute meeting sometime next week to go over these points in more detail. Please let me know what dates and times work best for you, and I’ll send over an agenda and any relevant documents beforehand.

Looking forward to your insights and feedback!

Best regards, Sarah Thompson 

Marketing Manager at ABC Company 

sarah.thompson@abccompany.com | (555) 123-4567

Example 2: The client meeting request

This meeting request email is a perfect mix of respectful and direct, so it’s easy for the recipient to get on board. The friendly tone and clear structure make it a winner. Let’s dive into the details that make it so effective.

What works:

  • Specific, actionable subject line that clearly states the purpose of the email
  • Friendly, respectful tone that acknowledges the recipient’s time and expertise
  • Bulleted list of key points to be discussed in the meeting
  • Request for specific meeting details and offer to send agenda and documents
  • Professional sign-off with full name, title, company, and contact details

What doesn’t work:

  • No mention of why the recipient’s input is particularly valuable or needed
  • No specific date or time range proposed for the meeting
  • No clear next steps or call-to-action for the recipient

Example 3: The networking follow-up

Networking events can be a whirlwind, but following up is where the real connections happen. 

Whether you met someone at a conference, a webinar, or a casual meetup, a friendly follow-up email can keep the conversation going. In this example, we’ll show you how to craft a warm and engaging follow-up that leaves a lasting impression.

Subject line: It was a Pleasure Meeting You at the Marketing Conference

Dear Olivia,

I hope this message finds you well. It was a pleasure meeting you at the “B2B Growth Summit” conference last week. I greatly appreciated our discussion about digital marketing strategies and the innovative work your team is undertaking at Reply.

As a fellow marketing professional, I found our conversation on inbound marketing particularly enlightening. I would welcome the opportunity to continue our discussion and explore potential avenues for collaboration.

Could we schedule a brief meeting or a phone call next week at your convenience? I am flexible and can adjust to fit your schedule.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to the possibility of working together.

Best regards,

Anthony Miller | Growth at ActiveCampaign

john.smith@activecampaign.com

(333) 756-4321

Example 3: The networking follow-up

This follow-up email is effective because it combines a clear and specific subject line with a polite and enthusiastic tone. It offers a brief recap of the interaction and suggests a clear next step. Let’s dive into the details that make this networking follow-up a success.

What works:

  • Personalized subject line that references the specific event, making it easy to remember.
  • Formal and respectful tone that establishes professionalism.
  • Reference to a specific conversation topic that shows attentiveness and genuine interest.
  • Clear intent for future interaction by suggesting a meeting or call, making it easy for the recipient to respond.
  • Flexibility in scheduling which shows respect for the recipient’s time and increases the likelihood of a meeting.

What doesn’t work:

  • Lack of a specific collaboration proposal that could make the email feel too vague or general.
  • No follow-up on any actionable points discussed during the initial meeting, missing an opportunity to build on that.
  • Generic closing phrase which may not add much value or specificity to the email.
  • No mention of mutual benefits of continuing the conversation, which could make the request feel one-sided.
  • No clear call to action beyond suggesting a meeting, which might leave the recipient unsure of the next steps.

Now that we’ve seen some top formal email examples, you might be wondering: is it okay to use a formal email template?

Is it right to use a formal email template?

The short answer is “absolutely”! 

Using a formal email template can save you time and ensure your message is clear and professional. Templates are especially helpful when you need to send similar emails regularly, like follow-ups, meeting requests, or job applications. 

They provide a solid structure, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

But remember, while templates give you a good starting point, it’s important to personalize them. Add specific details about the recipient or the context to make your email feel genuine. 

This way, your email stands out and shows that you’ve put in the effort.

So, go ahead and use those formal email templates. Just tweak it a bit to make it your own, and you’ll have a polished, effective email ready in no time!

Our closing lines 

In today’s world, where everyone is bombarded by emails, writing a well-structured and impactful email is your winning move.

By understanding the key components of a formal email, following best practices for email etiquette, and leveraging the power of tools like Reply, you can take your formal email writing to the next level.

Remember, every formal email you send is an opportunity to make a positive impression, build strong relationships, and achieve your goals.

So, take the time to analyze your target audience, define your purpose, and craft a clear, concise message that resonates with your recipients.

FAQ

  • How to write a formal email?

  • How do I end a formal email?

  • How to send a formal email?

  • How to start a formal email?

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