Email writing is a skill that is a must for every individual; that’s why it’s something taught since elementary school in the form of letter writing or applications. Though a part of the school curriculum, many adept writers even struggle to pen down an email. It is due to its nature of conveying useful information in a precise manner, yet stating all relevant details while keeping the tonality of the main consistent.
For most writers, the biggest obstacle is to figure out how to start an email, as every email, depending on its nature, receiver, and content, varies from another.
Once you start writing, pieces fall in place, and eventually, you can compose a decent mail. Therefore, the start of an email needs to be correct and compelling to grab the reader’s attention, make a first impression, and set the tone for the proceeding content. Emails are of various types but are broadly classified into two categories:
- Formal/Professional Email: Includes emails written for official or academic matters
- Informal Personal Email: Mails that are written to friends and family regarding personal matters
Both these types of mail are quite different from one another and have different aspects which need to be considered when composing one.
How to start a professional email?
Every professional email starts with a couple of things; the first is a salutation which includes the name of the recipient or their job function/title along with a formal greeting. The second is the opening sentence. Given below are some of the scenarios, along with the problems one might face addressing them and the most appropriate email greeting pertinent to them:
Name of recipient
There are times when you are aware of the recipient’s name, whereas, on other occasions, it is unknown. Though in friendly emails, the recipient’s name is used in professional emails, the most suitable approach is to address the recipients by their title or position in the company. This shows sets a more professional tone for the rest of the content and ensures that due reverence is given to the recipient.
For example: An employee can address the human resource manager as;
Dear HR Manager
In case of addressing a department where the exact recipient is unknown or if the mail is addressed to the whole department, then even the name of the department can be used.
For example, a student writing to the academics affairs department can phrase it as;
Dear Academics Affairs Department, I wanted to address an issue regarding my grading in the official transcript...
The Gender Dilemma
In the past, the norm was to use Mr., Mrs., and Miss, to address the recipient; however, in the current age, such terms may cause instances of gender misappropriation and hence be considered offensive. Similarly, such salutations also pre-determine the recipient’s marital status, which can distort the communication process. In such conditions, the best way is to use the word ‘Dear’ along with the recipient’s position to avoid misunderstandings.
The formal way to greet anyone is to wish the time of the day, such as; ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Evening’ but, due to differences in time zone and the fact that one is never sure when the recipient will view the mail, so it is not advised to greet with a time-based wish. Instead, ‘Hello’ and in a less formal setting, such as from one colleague to another, a simple ‘Hi’ would suffice.
For example, a customer lodging a complaint against any irregularities in the provision of services can initiate the mail as:
Hello Customer Services Team,
Though such a greeting may seem informal can portray a friendly tone that positively impacts the reader regardless of the subject of the mail.
On the other hand, in case of a more formal scenario, such as an employee addressing their senior, it is preferable to directly start with the matter of subject after the salutations, such as;
Dear Sales Manager, I am happy to inform you that we have exceeded our sales target for this month…
Some things should be carefully considered when writing the introductory sentences of a formal email. There is no point in beating about the bush, but at the same time, you should avoid starting abruptly. This means using words that let you build a rapport while remaining relevant to the main subject. Below are some of the situations which you might face and the appropriate way to address them through mail:
A) Inquiry: If you are writing to a fellow employee inquiring about a change in office timings, you can address the email in the following way:
Dear (name/title) I am contacting you to inquire about the change in office timings…
B) Bad news message: When delivering a piece of bad news such as termination of contract/employment always start with a positive message or some background information, which will help build a platform to deliver the negative part. Such as:
We have always acknowledged your dedication towards the company and persistent hard work; however, with the recent recession and economic downturn…
C) Felicitations: Even in times of celebrating and congratulating, it is always wise to use the right words to set things in motion rather than just a simple ‘Congratulations,’ for instance:
The company has always admired your acumen and mental fortitude amidst challenging situations, which have prompted us to increase your level of responsibility. We are proud to announce that you have been considered for a promotion…
How to address a personal email to someone?
Though in the modern era, people mostly use emails for formal correspondence while a simple call for personal matters; however, there might be cases when you have to email them. Nonetheless, we have covered some fundamental aspects of writing personal emails, which will help you compose such emails.
1. Using names
While writing professional emails, it is advisable to address the recipient through their job title, but in personal emails, it is better to use names or even using the relationship you have with that person. Always double-check that you haven’t misspelled names, as it can create a negative impression.
For example: While writing to your friend or a colleague, you directly refer to them by their name, such as; Dear (name), or in case of writing to your grandparent; 'Dear grandpa.'
2. Build a rapport
In personal emails and daily conversations, it’s always considered a bit immoral to ‘get straight to the point’ with a friend or family member without asking for each other’s well-being or exchanging pleasantries. Similarly, the introductory passage of a personal mail is better phrased when such pleasant remarks are made.
For example: Dear Mitchell, I hope you are doing well; I heard you were under the weather last week…
Some essential tips to start an email
Here are a few tips for reviewing all the important aspects of starting an email
- Know your audience
- Always keep your tone in check
- Be direct in delivering your message without having a negative impact
- Try to remain polite no matter the purpose of the mail (emotions distort the process of communication)
- Proofread your mail before sending
- Use online tool to like Grammarly to aid you
In conclusion, no matter how much of a jack you are when it comes down to writing, composing something as simple as an email can be challenging. We hope this blog helped you in specific ways and is something you will consider when writing your next one. Good luck!