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Effective Email Etiquette in Business English

Updated: Jan 18

A woman working on her laptop.
Writing a business email correctly is essential in communiction.

In the world of international business, effective email etiquette in business communication is crucial. This article is designed to help English learners write better business emails.


1. Simple Subject Lines: Your subject line should clearly indicate the main topic of your email in a straightforward way. This allows the reader to understand the purpose of your email before they even open it.

- Example: If you're asking for a report, a good subject line could be "Request for Monthly Sales Report."

2. Friendly Greetings: The way you start your email sets the tone. A polite greeting is essential. Depending on your relationship with the recipient, you can adjust the level of formality.

- Example: For a new client, you might write "Dear Mr. Johnson," whereas for a colleague you know well, "Hello Mike," might be more appropriate.

3. Be Direct and Brief: Get to the point quickly without unnecessary details. Your opening sentence should clearly state the purpose of the email. This respects the reader’s time and ensures your message is understood.

- Example: "I am writing to request a postponement of the project deadline."

4. Organize Your Email: Use paragraphs to separate different ideas or requests. This makes your email easier to read and understand. Start with the most important point.

- Example: If you have multiple requests, list them in separate paragraphs.

5. Use Basic Business Terms: Choose words that are common in business settings. Avoid slang, idioms, or overly complex vocabulary that might be ambiguous in writing.

- Example: Instead of saying "I'm reaching out to touch base," simply say "I am writing to discuss."

6. Stay Polite: Always maintain a courteous tone, even when discussing issues or making complaints. This helps to keep the conversation professional and constructive.

- Example: "I would appreciate your assistance in resolving an issue we encountered with our last order."

7. Ask Clearly: If you need a specific response or action, state this clearly. Be polite but direct about what you need from the recipient.

- Example: "Please confirm receipt of this email," or "Could you please send the updated contract by Friday?"

8. Simple Closing: End your email with a polite closing that matches the tone of your greeting. This brings a sense of closure to your message.

- Example: "Thank you for your attention to this matter. Best regards, [Your Name]"

9. Check Your Email: Always proofread your email for spelling and grammar errors. This not only avoids misunderstandings but also demonstrates professionalism.

- Tip: Tools like spell checkers are helpful, but reading your email out loud can also catch errors that might be missed.

10. Signature: A professional email signature should include your full name, position, and contact information. This provides the recipient with essential information and shows professionalism.

- Example: "John Smith, Marketing Coordinator, XYZ Corporation. Phone: 555-1234. Email:"

Example Correct Email Etiquette

Subject: Request for Extended Deadline on Marketing Project

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I am writing to request an extension on the deadline for our current marketing project. Due to unforeseen challenges with our suppliers, we need additional time to ensure the project meets our high standards.

Firstly, I would like to thank you for your continued support and understanding in this matter. Your guidance has been invaluable throughout this project.

We are currently facing delays in receiving the necessary materials from our suppliers. This has set back our timeline by approximately two weeks. Therefore, I kindly request that the deadline be extended from March 15th to March 29th. This extra time will allow us to complete the project without compromising on quality.

I understand that this request may cause some inconvenience, and I apologize for any disruptions. I assure you that my team and I are working diligently to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.

Please let me know if this extension is possible or if we can discuss this matter further. I am available for a call or meeting at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to your response.

Best regards,

John Doe

Project Manager

XYZ Corporation

Phone: [555-555-5555]

In this email:

- The subject line is clear and direct, indicating the purpose of the email.

- A polite greeting is used at the start.

- The email is direct and brief, stating the main purpose in the opening sentences.

- The content is well-organized, with each paragraph addressing a specific point.

- Simple business terms are used for clarity.

- The tone remains polite and respectful throughout.

- A clear request is made regarding the deadline extension.

- The email ends with a simple closing, and includes a professional signature.

- Each part of the email corresponds to the guidelines provided in the article.

This guide aims to help English learners write effective and professional business emails. By focusing on these key aspects, you can communicate more effectively in the business world.

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