Formal Email

It might seem intimidating if you have to write an email to someone you don't know that well — but don't worry! Knowing the basics of formal email writing, you can craft a fantastic email that is sure to wow whoever reads it.

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Formal Email Formal Email

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Table of contents

    Formal Email Keyboard tiles spelling email StudySmarterFig. 1 - Time to write an email.

    Formal Email: Format

    The format of a formal email is similar to the format of an informal email, the main difference being that formal emails use more formal language and phrases. Like a regular email written to a friend, a formal email usually includes:

    • A Subject Line
    • A Formal Email Greeting
    • Email Body Text
    • A Formal Email Ending
    • A Signature

    By examining each of these components individually in the context of a formal email, it'll be much easy to craft the perfect message!

    Formal Email: The Subject Line

    A subject line is simply the title of your email. While this part of the email might seem very small, it is extremely important because it's the first thing the recipient sees when receiving an email. The more eye-catching your subject line is, the more likely the recipient will read your email and reply quicker.

    Formal Email Subject line StudySmarter

    Fig. 2 - New email message with a blank subject line.

    The subject line should be clear, concise, and should tell the reader exactly what the email is about in just 5-8 words. For instance:

    1. Interest in Editor Position

    2. My Absence in Class Today: 01/08/22

    3. Possible Letter of Recommendation

    4. Scholarship Application Inquiry

    5. Meeting Agenda for This Week: 08/21/22

    Each of these examples is short, to the point, and tells the recipient about the email. Always write the subject line in the designated box, as it is separate from the email body and it can be easy to forget!

    Sometimes you may need to contact someone immediately, like if you have a sudden family emergency and need to tell your employer that you won't be at work. In a situation like this, starting your subject line with "[Urgent]" can be useful, followed by whatever the problem is. For example, the subject line in this situation might read: [Urgent] Family Emergency Absence.

    Don't put the recipient's email in the recipient line (the line above the subject line) until you're ready to send your email. That way, you don't accidentally send the email unfinished by accident. This includes the Cc and Bcc lines.

    Formal Email: Greeting

    Writing a formal email greeting is important because it pays respect to the person you are emailing. Some formal email greetings include:

    • Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr./Professor [Last name],
    • Greetings,
    • To whom it may concern:
    • Hello [recipient's name],

    It is important to choose an email greeting that matches the circumstance of your email. For example, if you were writing a formal email to your Aunt Joan, it would be appropriate to use the greeting "Hello Aunt Joan...". Conversely, if you were writing to a potential employer and inquiring about a job, you would use a more professional greeting, like "Dear Mr. Doe...".

    Most often, your greeting will be followed with a comma. However, it is also appropriate to use a colon in very formal situations. As a rule, as long as the greeting is properly respectful, then it is acceptable.

    If you don't know who's receiving the email, "To whom it may concern," and "Greetings," are appropriate formal greetings. However, if possible, it is always best to try and find out exactly who you are emailing, and address them by name.

    Formal Email: Email Body Text

    The email body text is the main section of your email. This section is typically focused on one or two topics with the goal of stating and justifying whatever you may be writing about. As a rule, you should begin your email body text by explaining why you're writing the email.

    It's important to state the purpose of your email clearly so the recipient can understand why you're emailing and more easily help you. Some ways to introduce your purpose may include:

    • I am writing to enquire about...
    • I am writing in reference to...

    If you have never spoken to who you're emailing before, you should briefly introduce yourself before stating your purpose. An example of this might look like:

    Dear Mr. Scott,

    My name is Jane Doe, and I'm a Senior at ABC High School. I am writing because I have read many of your articles in the XYZ newspaper and was wondering if I could interview you for an essay I'm writing for my Intro to Journalism class.

    In this example, Jane introduces herself and explains why she is emailing him in clear, plain words.

    Try to keep your email concise. Keep in mind that people want to read their emails quickly. Don't include extra details if they're not needed. For instance, if you were writing an email to an employer about a sick day, you may not need to go into all of the details about your sickness.

    It is better to write "I am feeling very ill today and am unable to attend work" instead of "I am feeling very ill and have a high fever, stuffy nose, and chills, so I will not be able to attend work." Your primary goal is to convey your message. So get it done quickly!

    It is always nice to start the email with a "thank you" line if you are replying to a formal email. An example of a "thank you" line is "Thank you for getting back to me" or "Thank you for your prompt reply." What other lines might be useful when replying to a formal email?

    Formal Email: Ending

    A formal email's ending serves as a section to request a specific action, and show gratitude for the person you are emailing. Balancing your request with a polite sentence or phrase is often good. Some polite phrases you can use are:

    • Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    • If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.
    • I look forward to speaking with you soon!
    • Thank you for your feedback!

    Like a formal email greeting, the way you write your formal email ending depends on the circumstance. For instance, in the example above, Jane Doe asks Mr. Scott if she could interview him for her Intro to Journalism class essay. Jane Doe probably has a specific due date for her essay and might need Mr. Scott's reply by a certain date so that she can complete it. In this case, she might end her formal email like this:

    Please let me know by November 12th if you are willing to be interviewed. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!


    Jane Doe

    This is a great formal email ending because Jane Doe states her request, and expresses her gratitude for the time Mr. Scott might take out of his schedule to read and reply to her email.

    Formal Email: Signature

    Similar to a formal email greeting, choosing a proper formal email signature is important because it adds to the tone of respect in your message. Some polite formal email signatures include:

    • Sincerely,
    • Respectfully,
    • Thanks again,
    • Kind regards,
    • Best regards,
    • Best,
    • Yours truly,

    When signing your formal email, you should always start a new paragraph for your signature and an additional paragraph for your own name. It is best to sign your first and last name in formal emails. If you're writing on an organization's behalf, put their name below yours. Here is an example of correct signature formatting:

    Thank you for your time, and I look forward to speaking with you more about this soon.

    Best regards,

    Jane Doe

    XYZ High School Newspaper

    Formal Email: Helpful hints before sending your email

    Congratulations! You're almost ready to send your email, but before you do, go through this checklist to make sure your email is perfect.

    Formal Email Cell phone displaying email application StudySmarterFig. 3 - Send a great email from your phone

    1. Proofread your email. Always check your spelling and grammar before sending!
    2. Make sure you're sending the email from an appropriate address. You want your email address to be professional, typically in the format: You don't want to send a formal email from an address like ""
    3. Double-check the recipient's email address, title, and name. After all this work, you don't want to send your message to the wrong person! You also don't want to spell their name incorrectly or address them by the wrong title (i.e., Dr. John Doe versus Mr. John Doe).
    4. Use professional fonts! Stick to fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. When in doubt, just use the email platform's default font.
    5. Don't forget to attach files! Whether you're sending your resume or a newspaper article, you don't want to forget to attach it to your email– especially if you mentioned it in your body text!
    6. Add Cc or Bcc recipients! If you want your email to be sent to multiple people, don't forget about the Cc and Bcc email feature. Both the Cc and Bcc lines send a copy of your email to additional people. If you write a person's email address in the carbon copy line (Cc), the person's address is shown to all recipients of the email. If you write an email in the blind carbon copy line (Bcc), the person's email is hidden from all recipients of the email.

    If you've checked your email, it's time to send!

    Formal Email Examples

    Here are some short formal email examples that you can use as inspiration for your own messages!

    Formal Email Example of a Job Inquiry StudySmarterFig. 4 - Example of a formal email inquiring about a job.

    Formal Email Example of a Formal Email to a Professor StudySmarterFig. 5 - Example of a formal email sent to a professor.

    Formal Email - Key Takeaways

    • A formal email's tone is always professional and polite.
    • Formal emails always include a formal email greeting like "Dear [name]" and a formal signature like "Sincerely."
    • Formal email's body text should be concise, to the point, and easy to read.
    • Before sending a formal email, you should proofread it for spelling and grammar errors.
    • Ensure you're sending the email to the correct recipient and addressing them by the correct name and title.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Formal Email

    Can I use "dear" as a greeting in a formal email? 

    The greeting "Dear [name]," can definitely be used in a formal email and in some situations is the most appropriate greeting to use.

    How do you write a formal email?

    The best way to write a formal email is to keep a respectful tone, use formal greetings and signatures, and be concise with your message. 

    How do you start a formal email?

    Always begin a formal email with a formal greeting such as "Dear [name]," or "To whom it may concern:". It is best to address the recipient of the email by name whenever possible.

    How do you end a formal email?

    Always end a formal email with a polite sentence or phrase such as "I look forward to hearing from you soon!" or "Thank you for your feedback!" You should also always sign your email with a formal signature such as "Sincerely" or "Best regards."

    How do you reply to a formal email?

    When replying to a formal email, the format stays the same except it is customary to begin the email with a "thank you" line, such as "Thank you for your prompt reply" or "Thank you for getting back to me."

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    It is the title of your email.

    It is the first thing a receiver of your email will see.

    A subject line should be about:


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