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How to Write the Perfect Email: 6 Steps to Creating Business Emails That Get the Job Done

Photo of a dreamy businesswoman, distracted from laptop, sitting at work desk in office. She is wondering how to write a good business email.
Learning to write a proper email is an essential skill in the business world. (Photo: DimaBerlin)

We live in a digital world where communicating on phones, tablets, and computers is the prevailing preference, so writing emails should be second nature to us by now.

But just as writing a well-worded letter was a prized skill back in the day, there’s a true art to writing the perfect email in our online world today.

While anyone can write a letter or email, there is also an art to writing them in a way that makes them stand above the rest. You can follow a few proven shortcuts to get far better results.

Keep reading, and I’ll share the shortcuts you can use to write the perfect email for any occasion.

Whether you are reaching out to colleagues in your office, to external project stakeholders, or to prospects and clients, these six simple steps will ensure you write an email that gets the job done without a lot of annoying back-and-forth.

In a rush? Get this article as a PDF guide so you won’t miss these tips!

1. Be Specific and Concise in the Subject Line

The first component of the perfect business email is being specific in your subject line.

The subject line is the first checkpoint for the reader to decide whether they will even open your email. If the subject line doesn’t attract their attention, they might not even bother to keep reading.

Your subject line needs these elements:

  • A short but descriptive subject heading
  • An objective
  • The action required
  • A due date (if applicable)

When choosing a subject line for your office email, avoid anything vague or mundane (e.g., “Question” or “Important!” or “Meeting Tomorrow”).

Instead, opt for something specific and interesting that will make the recipient want to learn more (e.g., “New idea for increasing sales” or “Meet for 15 mins. before the meeting tomorrow?”).

The ideal length of a business email subject line is three to eight words. Not too short. Not too long. Just right.

2. Start With an Appropriate Greeting

The next step to writing the perfect email is to address your reader with an appropriate greeting.

There are two components to a proper greeting: the salutation and the opening sentence.

When you write a formal email, start with a greeting like “Dear Mr. Smith.” When you write a more informal email to someone you know or in a casual situation, you can start with a simple “Hi” or “Hello, John.”

This might seem like basic advice, but getting the greeting right is a point that needs to be stressed. The greeting sets the tone for the rest of the email. If you get your greeting wrong, you’ll lose the reader right then and there.

Photo of woman using laptop for checking email.
Stay friendly and professional in your email, and respect your reader’s time. (Photo: Rawpixel)

3. Put Yourself in Your Reader’s Shoes

Keep in mind that everybody has different preferences when it comes to communication.

Most people prefer short and concise emails, but some like a more detailed write-up. Be mindful of your recipient’s style so you can tailor your email accordingly.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone in your company will be familiar with industry jargon, so avoid using terms that make sense only to those in the know.

Watch your tone, too. Most office emails should have a professional tone. Not sure if your tone is too casual? Imagine that you’re sending your email to your boss’s boss—would you still use the same language? If not, it may be time to edit.

Remember to be friendly and thankful. Showing gratitude to colleagues who take time out of their busy days to respond promptly is just good etiquette.

Emails are an essential form of communication in today’s business world and communicate vital information throughout your company or to other organizations. Your message must get across clearly and effectively. Ready to send the perfect emails? Have them proofread and edited by the team at Super Copy Editors—we can make sure your emails start strong and end strong. Get your free, personalized quote here.

4. Keep Your Email Short and Clear

People are busy, and they get a ton of emails every day. You can’t afford to waste anyone’s time with long and wordy emails.

With that in mind, here are some things to remember when writing the body of your email:

  • Make your main point first—don’t save it for the very end.
  • Keep your paragraphs and sentences short.
  • Write clearly so your email can be acted on without being returned with questions.
  • Consider using lists and bullet points to make the text more skimmable.
  • Ensure that the body of your email has a purpose that aligns with your subject line.
  • Stick to the same email thread when discussing one topic.

Not sure if you’re being too wordy? Try reading your email out loud. If it takes more than 30 seconds, chances are you need to edit it down. You might even consider making a phone call instead.

Here’s Jeff Su, a productivity expert, speaking about how to write better emails at work:

5. Wrap It Up Quickly

If you are requesting something, make sure you are crystal clear about what it is that you need—when do you need it by, and how should the person reply?

Then, once you’ve said your piece, it’s time for an uncomplicated closing. Keep it straightforward, short, and to the point. You don’t need to write anything fancy or try to impress your reader.

Use a quick and precise sign-off with one of the following options:

  • Sincerely
  • Regards
  • Best regards
  • Best
  • Warmly
  • Kind wishes
  • Thank you
  • Thank you for your time
  • Take care
  • I look forward to your response

Stick with tried-and-true closing sentiments, and you should be just fine.

Example of the Perfect Office Email

Image of an email that says:
Subject: Order for Office Supplies
Dear John,
This email is in reference to the order for office supplies placed yesterday. Please find attached the order form and list of items requested.
We anticipate that the materials will need to be delivered by next Wednesday. If there are any concerns or delays with this order, please contact me at your earliest convenience so we can address them quickly.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Jane Doe

The example email above contains all the necessary components to communicate efficiently and effectively in a professional manner.

  • It has a clear subject line that directly explains the purpose of the email.
  • The writer is concise and to the point.
  • The email specifies what is being requested and by when.
  • It includes an appropriate, cordial closing.

Finally, if applicable, don’t forget to include any attachments or links in your email. It’s embarrassing and wastes everyone’s time when your recipient has to write you back asking for the missing files.

6. Check Your Spelling and Grammar

You’ve almost crafted the perfect email. Don’t press send just yet!

Only one last step remains: Check your spelling and grammar.

You don’t want to have wasted all this time and effort creating the perfect email only to have it ruined by a couple of missed spelling and grammar mistakes, right?

Run your email through a spell-checker in your word processor or email composer if it supports one, but be sure to reread it—just in case.

Spell-checking programs aren’t human, and they don’t always pick up every little detail. They are also unreliable when it comes to taking things like tone, humor, and nuance into account.

Additionally, spell-checking software can’t ensure that you send it to the right person and have used the proper sign-off. They also can’t offer suggestions on making a sentence sound better to the human ear or finding ways to shorten long sentences for brevity.

At the very least, have a colleague proofread and edit your email. A better option would be to send it to a professional business proofreading service. There, your email will be analyzed from top to bottom to avoid missing anything, large or small. There’s no substitute for a trained editor’s eyes looking over your work.

Don’t forget! Download “How to Write the Perfect Email: 6 Steps to Creating Business Emails That Get the Job Done” to keep it handy and take action on it. Click here to download it now.

Final Thoughts on How to Write the Perfect Email

In business today (and in everyday life), you need to know how to construct a proper email that communicates your needs effectively. Nearly 300 billion emails are sent every day.

Besides being a necessary skill in today’s world, knowing how to write the perfect email has many other benefits. People get tons of spam emails, and businesses constantly reject ideas and proposals from emails that don’t follow the guidelines above. If you want to have your emails read and proposals considered, you need to take the time to write the perfect email.

While you can learn the first five rules of how to write the perfect email on your own, the sixth rule is where you should get professional help because, in truth, humans aren’t capable of catching every mistake in their own writing.

To ensure your email is well-written, is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and has the proper tone, your best bet is to have it proofread and edited by the experts at Super Copy Editors. Our team has years of experience putting the polishing touches on emails for every purpose and business type.

Get your free, personalized quote from Super Copy Editors to have us perfect your next email.

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Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I’m Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than 25 years of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes. At Super Copy Editors, we’re passionate about helping agencies, marketing teams, and education companies refine and polish their text to give them confidence and ensure success. Learn more here.

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