How to Write Formal and Informal Business Emails

Contributed content / By Joel Syder / 14 February 2019

Emails make up the core of any business's communication and marketing strategies. This makes it important for businesses to make sure they communicate the right messages and accurately convey their intended tone, whether formal or informal.

Writing emails is an integral part of the business world and likely dictates how your business communicates with employees or customers in email marketing efforts. 

At OriginWritings and AcademicBrits, we understand the importance of tone. One of the core elements that defines the context and content of each email is considering whether it should be written in a formal or informal way. 

This is important to consider before even starting to draft the email because how you choose to start your email will determine every other element of the email, such as language, tone, structure, and imagery. 

Here are 4 things you should consider when writing formal and informal business marketing emails that will help you get results. 

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Think About How You Begin and End Your Emails

How you begin your email sets the tone of the message. It determines whether the reader will keep reading and follow-up or stop reading and forget about it (and you) entirely. 

How you begin your email can be broken down into two parts: the greeting and the way you address the reader. 

Some examples include: 

  • "Dear Professor Taylor,"
  • "Dear Manager of Marketing,"
  • "To whom it may concern:" 
  • "Hey Jon!"
  • "Hi!"
  • "Hello Ben,"

The first three examples would be used in a formal email when you want to convey respect by politely addressing the reader.

Using "Dear" or "To" to address the recipient of the email conveys a formal tone.

The salutation "dear" and "to" exhibit a professional tone that is reinforced when you use the recipient's official title. 

The last three examples would be used in an informal message and convey a much more casual tone. They address the reader as a friend and relay a tone similar to a face-to-face conversation. By addressing the reader by his or her first name, you can make the email seem more personable. 

Digital marketing agencies may recommend businesses use a formal or informal tone when communicating specials, deals, or product information with customers depending on their target audience.

The same rules apply for at the end of the email. Use the same tone you started with, whether professional or casual. Thank the reader for their time and keep the context of your email in mind. 

Use Grammatical Devices Appropriately 

You also want to make sure the grammar you use in your email reflects the tone you want to convey.  

For example, avoid using contractions such as "don’t" or "won’t" in formal emails. Instead, use the full word like "do not" and "will not."

Contractions are acceptable in informal emails when you’re portraying a casual tone.

While talking about specific terms, be aware of colloquial terms and slang, which might be appropriate for informal writing but never formal emails. 

Regardless of your email’s style, you should pay attention to using correct grammar and punctuation and follow best practices for formatting. This ensures that your email is easy to read and conveys a professional tone, regardless of whether it’s formal or informal.

Define Your Tone of Voice

Consider your tone and whether you are using the active or passive voice. 

In the active voice, the main subject of the sentence is known. For example, "Jonathon received your email yesterday around 10 p.m."

In this sentence, we know who received the email yesterday. 

In the passive voice, the main subject of the sentence is unknown. For example, "Your email was received yesterday around 10 p.m." 

In this example, we don’t know who received the email.

When deciding between active and passive voice, always choose whichever one is the easiest to understand and most concise.

Save Time by Splitting Up Your Email’s Body Content

To ensure readability, also consider how you will divide the content of your email into paragraphs. 

If you’re talking about multiple topics, make sure to organize the information so that it isn’t melded together or confusing to the reader. Ideally, you’ll never want to have a paragraph that is longer than four lines in length. 

Split your email into sections to ensure readability.

By splitting up sections, the reader isn’t facing a huge block of text that makes him or her want to stop reading. 

This method also helps you make sure your content is accurate because you can work on each section gradually and easily skim it for errors before sending. 

Writing Great Emails Takes Practice

The sooner you start implementing these practices into your daily writing operations, the quicker you’ll be able to turn them into a habit and apply them to other areas of your business strategy, such as writing marketing text messages, managing social media marketing efforts, or pitching journalists

Be mindful of your writing and aim to create the desired first impression in the easiest way possible for the reader. 

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