How to Write a Formal Email With 10 Samples

How to Write a Formal Email With 10 Samples

Formal emails convey professionalism and respect between two business entities or individuals. A well-structured formal email reflects positively on the sender and their organization, making them an essential tool in any professional environment.

In this article, we explore the concept of formal emails, shedding light on what they are, their integral components, when and where they should be used, and how to effectively write formal emails

Without any more ado, let’s get started.

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What is a formal email?

A formal email is a type of email communication that adheres to professional standards and conventions in its structure, content, language, and tone. 

Formal emails are used predominantly in the professional world and in official contexts. They serve as a key medium of interaction in business, education, institutions between officials and various professionals. 

The main difference between formal and informal emails is that formal emails are written in professional and polite language. They are typically clear, concise and follow a certain structure and style. On the other hand, informal emails are more relaxed and conversational.

Where and when to use formal emails

Formal emails are commonly used in a variety of professional and academic contexts, such as when you are emailing a CEO or your professor. Knowing when and where to use them appropriately can greatly enhance your communication effectiveness and professional image. 

Here are some common instances where writing formal emails is necessary:

Job applications and follow-ups

Typically when applying for a job, you want to come across as a serious, professional applicant. Also, you want to create a good first impression and get them to remember you. So, it only makes sense that you use formal email language in your application, cover letter, or resume. 

The same applies to follow-up emails after interviews. This shows your professionalism and respect for the position and the company.

Communication with superiors and colleagues

In a professional setting, it’s essential to maintain a certain level of formality when communicating with your superiors or colleagues, especially when discussing official matters, presenting ideas, or reporting on tasks.

Keep in mind that this might not be applicable to all businesses as the way people typically communicate, and the language they use in their business communications depend largely on the company’s values and culture. 

Client communications

Whether you are introducing your services, providing updates, answering inquiries, or dealing with complaints, you also want to maintain a strong level of formality when discussing with your customers

As a business, maintaining a formal tone in communicating with clients fosters a sense of professionalism and credibility. In other words, it encourages them to see you as a serious, official entity that they can trust and recommend easily. 

Business to Business (B2B) communications

When you are communicating with another business, whether it’s for partnerships, collaborations, or negotiations, it’s imperative to use a formal email and sound as professional as you can. 

The first reason is that you need to address the other business as a serious corporation and show respect. But the main reason for this is that in the B2B realm, interactions involve high stakes, professionalism, and a significant amount of trust. Thus, the tone, structure, and content of the communications must reflect these factors.

Academic correspondence

Academic correspondence requires formality and respect. That’s just how it needs to be. So, when corresponding with professors, administrators, or other staff in an academic setting, you should use formal language. 

Doing so reflects your professionalism, respect for the recipient’s position, and commitment to your academic endeavors.

Government or legal communication

This goes without saying, as officials are known to be the champions of formality and respect. So, any correspondence with government officials, legal entities, or similar institutions should be formal. This can range from applying for permits to requesting information or submitting reports.

Formal invitations or announcements

If you’re sending out invitations for a formal event, such as a conference, or making a professional announcement, like a change in company policy or structure, then a formal email would be appropriate.

Formal email format: Key elements and structure of a formal email

A formal email is similar to a formal letter, having the same key elements. Here, we will examine each key element you need to consider when writing a formal email. 

Formal email subject line

See the formal email subject line as the introduction that identifies the intent of the email. It appears in bold in the inbox of your recipient, and it’s the first thing they see. So, you want it to be clear, concise, and relevant to the content of the email.

Here are some tips on how to write effective formal email subject lines:

  • Be specific and concise: Always state the purpose of your email in a succinct way to keep a clear subject line. Recipients should have a good idea of what the email is about before they open it. 
  • Avoid spam-like language: All caps, too many exclamation marks, or words such as “free”, “buy now”, and “urgent” can trigger spam filters and also seem unprofessional.
  • Indicate if action is required: If you need the recipient to do something, it’s a good idea to include this in the subject line. Phrases like “Please review” or “Feedback required” can be effective.
  • Personalize when appropriate: Personalizing the subject line can make it stand out. A personalized subject line increases the open rate by 41%. If it’s a job application, you could include your name in the subject line.

Formal email salutation

Also known as a formal greeting, the salutation is the first line of the email. It’s where you start addressing the recipient, and it sets the tone for the rest of the email. As a rule of thumb, just shoot for showing respect towards the recipient.

The most common salutations for formal emails are “Dear,” followed by the recipient’s title and surname. If you know the person you are writing to well, or they are in a less formal position, you may use their first name. 

Here are a few examples of formal email salutations:

  • When you know the recipient’s name:
    • Dear Mr. Smith (for a man)
    • Dear Ms. Johnson (for a woman, regardless of marital status)
  • When the recipient’s gender is unknown, or the name is gender-neutral:
    • Dear Alex Jordan
    • Dear J. Smith
  • When the recipient’s name is unknown:
    • Dear Sir/Madam
    • Dear Hiring Manager (in case of job applications)
  • When writing to a group:
    • Dear team
    • Dear Members of the Committee

Keep in mind that email salutations like “Hi”, “Hello”, and “Hey”, are primarily known to be used when writing an informal email and should be avoided in professional communication.

Formal email opening line

People often confuse email salutations with email opening lines. Well, they are not the same. The salutation or greeting is typically a salutary phrase, typically in the range of “Hello, Hi, Dear, Hey, ect” among which you choose according to the context of the email and the recipients. 

The opening line, au contraire, are complete sentences, typically the first sentence of the email body. Depending on the context of the email and its purpose, you can either introduce yourself, make it an icebreaker, or simply add courteous formal email opening lines like “I hope this email finds you well”, which we advise against. 

A polite self-introduction or an icebreaker is recommended if you are emailing someone unfamiliar to you or your organization. On the other hand, if your correspondent is known to you, you should omit this part and proceed directly to the main content of your message.

Formal email body

This should be all about the purpose of the email. The email body is where you communicate your main message. It should be well-structured, clear, and concise while maintaining a professional tone. A short and concise email has a higher response rate than a longer one.

Simply detail what you have to say and be as direct as possible. Avoid fluff or any other information that isn’t relevant to your recipient. Edit the message, add bullets where necessary, and use short paragraphs to make it scannable. 

Formal email closing

Often referred to as the email sign-off, it is the last part of the email where you express your closing sentiments before ending with your name, and you want to leave a lasting impression. The email closing line often includes a polite or positive sentiment.

Keep in mind that the choice of your closing line should reflect the tone of your email, remain professional, and match your relationship with the recipient. Here are some common formal email closing lines:

  • “Sincerely” or “Yours sincerely”: These are very common and professional email sign-offs and can be used in a variety of formal contexts.
  • “Best regards” or “Kind regards”: These are also professional and can be used when the tone of the email is more friendly while still maintaining professionalism.
  • “Respectfully” or “Yours faithfully”: These are very formal and can be used in extremely formal contexts or when writing to higher-ranking individuals or officials.
  • “Thank you”: This can be used when you are expressing gratitude in your email, but it’s often followed by another sign-off, like “Thank you, Best regards, [your name]”.

Here is how you can write the closing line:

  1. Choose the appropriate sign-off: Based on your relationship with the recipient and the tone of the email, end your email professionally and appropriately.
  2. Follow it with a comma: After your chosen sign-off, insert a comma.
  3. Skip a line: On the next line, write your full name.
  4. Include your contact information or signature (if appropriate): In professional emails, it’s common to include your title and contact information, such as your email address, phone number, and sometimes your mailing address, beneath your name. This is often formatted as an email signature and can be set to automatically appear at the end of your emails.

10 formal email templates you can use today

Here are ten formal email templates you can use.

1. Formal request email template

The request email helps you ask for something in a respectful and professional manner. It may be to request information, seek advice, ask for resources, or do tasks related to your job. 

Here is a template that can help you out. 

2. Formal email for setting an appointment

Appointment emails are professional correspondence with a single purpose: request an appointment. This could be with a colleague, a client, a superior, a service provider, or any other professional contact. 

The email should clearly state the purpose of the meeting, propose a suitable date and time, and ask for the recipient’s confirmation. Be sure to make it short, clear, and straight to the point. This template can help you out. 

3. Formal email template for issuing a complaint

Issuing a complaint via a formal email requires a tactful, respectful, and clear approach. The goal should be to explain the issue, express your dissatisfaction, and seek a resolution. Here is a formal complaint email template that can help you out. 

4. Formal email for sending an invitation

If your goal is to invite someone to an official or professional event, such as a meeting, conference, seminar, workshop, or formal celebration, this is the email template for you. 

5. Formal email for applying for a job

A job application email, often referred to as a cover letter, is an email you send to a potential employer expressing your interest in and qualifications for a job. It’s typically structured to introduce yourself, explain why you’re a good fit for the job, and demonstrate your professionalism and communication skills. The resume or CV is usually attached to this email. 

Here is a template for you.

6. Formal email for sending a business proposal

This type of email is sent to a prospective client or partner outlining a proposed business arrangement, service, product, or solution. It’s best kept clear, concise, professional, and persuasive — highlighting the benefits and value that your proposal can offer.

Here is a template that you can adapt to your specific needs:

7. Formal email for apologizing to a customer

Customer service and product failures require an apology via a formal email. This email should convey your sincere apologies, address the issue directly, provide a possible solution or compensation if applicable, and assure the customer that measures are being taken to avoid a repeat of the situation.

Here’s a template for a formal apology email:

8. Formal email for thanking someone

A formal thank you email expresses gratitude in a professional and respectful manner. This could be in response to a favor, after receiving a gift, following a job interview, a client’s purchase, or simply to acknowledge someone’s efforts that have helped you in some way.

Here is a template that can help you out. 

9. Formal customer onboarding email

A formal customer onboarding email helps you welcome new customers after they sign up for your service or product. You get to provide them with relevant information to get started and make them feel valued. This initial interaction is crucial in setting the tone for the customer’s experience with the company, product, or service.

Here is a template you can use:

10. Formal reminder email

This email prompts your recipient to remember an upcoming event, task, deadline, or commitment that’s due. It serves as a courteous and professional way to ensure important dates, actions, or events are not overlooked. 

Writing it, you should provide all the necessary details for your recipient to understand what is being reminded. Here’s a template for a formal reminder email:

Key takeaways

  • A formal email is an email you address to a person you don’t know or someone that is in a position of authority.
  • You can use formal emails for job applications, first contact, apologies, sales pitches, termination, and other situations in a professional setting. 
  • The key elements of a formal email are the subject line, salutation, body, closing, and signature.
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