Business English Email Writing: 7 Simple Steps

This handy guide—with seven simple steps—will have you writing strong business emails in no time (very soon), with seven simple steps.

You’ll learn how to start your business emails and what to include. Plus, you can check out relevant phrases for common situations like responding to an inquiry or changing arrangements. 

Before we get to step one, let’s quickly look at a few basic words related to emailing in English.


Essential English Email Vocabulary

  • Recipient — This is the person you’re writing an email to.
  • Sender — This is you, the person sending the email.
  • Attachment — Any file (.pdf, .doc, .ppt, etc.) attached to the email is an attachment.
  • CC — “Carbon copy”
  • BCC — “Blind carbon copy”
  • Subject line — This is the topic of the email, which the recipient will see when the email arrives in their inbox.
  • Draft — When you’re writing an email, it’s saved as a draft. This is an unfinished email, as you haven’t sent it yet.

Below, you’ll find a guide that includes some additional specific language you can put in emails. 

Rules for Writing Emails

  • Be clear. You need to use short sentences, simple language and correct grammar.
  • Make it brief. Keep your emails brief by focusing on only one topic. Explain your main reason for writing in the first paragraph. Be specific about what it is you want.
  • Be polite. Just as you wouldn’t use exclamation points and all caps in a formal letter, avoid being overly emotional in emails. Too many exclamation points can seem like yelling, and words written in all caps have the same effect.

    Keep your emails polite and formal. Remember, your emails may not be only for the person you send them to. Someone may press “forward.”

How to Write a Business Email in English

1. Start Your Email with a Greeting

So you are probably thinking, Where do I start? What greeting (salutation) should I use? 

Being polite is important in business, and greetings are an important part of this.

To keep greetings simple, here are three that you can use in 90% of business situations:

  • Hi [First Name], (informal)

Hi James,
Hi Hannah,

  • Hello Mr./Ms. [Last Name], (formal)

Hello Ms. Smith,
Hello Mr. Bond,

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  • Hello [Team Name], (to groups)

Hello Sales Team,
Hello Marketing Team,

Notice that we always start with a capital letter, and there is a comma ( , ) after each greeting. Let’s now look at each situation in more detail.

Informal email greetings

Using first names is appropriate (okay) when you meet the person regularly and you feel comfortable using their first name with them. Often these are coworkers or people you know who prefer to be called by their first name.

Formal email greetings

Using titles and last names is a formal greeting, and you should use it with anyone that you do not know well. Whether that is a new client for the company, or the HR (Human Resources) guy that falls asleep while waiting for the elevator, this basic greeting works.

If you’re ever sending an email to an address that doesn’t have a specific contact name, use the name of the department/team (i.e. Dear Human Resources Department) or “Dear Sir/Madam” if possible. Otherwise, you can use the formal “To Whom It May Concern” greeting.

Email greetings to groups

When writing to groups of people, think about your relationship to the group.

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If it’s a group of people you know really well, you can use something more informal such as “Hi all,” “Hi team” or “Hi everyone.”

If it’s a small group of people (five or less), use their first names: Dear Sarah, Roxy and Chad.

If it’s a more formal email, you can use greetings such as “Dear Coworkers,” “Dear Colleagues” or “Dear Hiring Committee.”

2. Tell The Recipient Who You Are

When you write an email, sometimes the recipient doesn’t know you or remember you. So, you have to tell your reader who you are. This includes people who you met briefly at conferences or people who may not recognize your email address.

How do you do it? Simple: State your name and how the reader would recognize (know/remember) you.

For example:

Hello James Bond,

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My name is Joe Milan. We met at the Villain Conference in London last March and discussed ways my company could help you prevent evil from taking over the world.

Short and simple. They don’t need a long history, just something brief (short) that will help them remember or know who you are.

Remember: The most common mistakes with the greeting are forgetting a salutation (Hello) and writing too much. Keep it simple, no more than a couple sentences.

3. State Your Purpose for Writing

After your greeting, you need a simple sentence that clearly states why you are emailing. Are you making a request? Providing information? Apologizing? Complaining? Sending a document?

Get straight to the point with a clear sentence explaining what you want.

Hello James Bond,

My name is Joe Milan and I’m a Villain Recruiting Representative at WorldTakeOver Inc. We spoke last March at the Villain Conference in London. We would like your help with the Bad Man Conference in Las Vegas this September.

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No details yet, that comes next.

You could also start with any of these, followed by your reason for writing:

  • I’m writing to…
  • Just a (quick) note to…
  • Just a short email to…

4. Give Useful Details

After stating your purpose, you’ll want to briefly provide any useful, relevant information. Here’s what the next paragraph in my email to James Bond might look like:

At the feedback sessions on September 15 (www.badmanconference/sessions/feedback), our company will be discussing ideas about using and hiding “Really Big Lasers.” While we expect a lot of feedback from the general audience, we would like your expertise on two points:

1. Your opinion of the project and the issues raised by the audience

2. Overseeing the quality of the refreshments provided by WorldTakeOver

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The above paragraph gives details about the conference and what the company wants James to do. The useful details such as the date, topics and the conference website are all present in this email. James has everything he needs to take action.

If you’re attaching any documents to the email, tell the recipient with a phrase like:

  • I’m sending you…
  • I’ve attached…
  • Please find… attached.
  • Please find the attached…

For example, you could say:

I’m sending you this week’s schedule as an attachment.

5. Tell What Action Is Needed

We’ve given a purpose and details, so now we need to tell the recipient what action they need to take. Let’s look at two possible endings for the body paragraph. This first one is not a good option:

Let me know what you think.

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It’s not good because it’s not clear. Yes, it’s short, but it doesn’t say exactly what James needs to think about or what he should respond (and when). Let’s try again:

Please let me know via email ASAP if you can participate. If you can attend, please include (1) any recommendations you have for the refreshments and (2) an outline of the materials you’ll need to give your feedback.

Look forward to hearing from you,

So between these two options, which one makes the next action clear? Obviously the second example. It tells James exactly what he should do next, and “ASAP” (as soon as possible) tells him to respond right away.

Remember: When you write the body paragraphs of your email, always include three parts: (1) your purpose, (2) useful details, (3) the next action needed. Do those three things, and you will write a good business email.

6. Wrap Up the Email

When ending an email, ask yourself what you want the reader to do.

If you want them to reply to you, you can write:

  • I look forward to hearing from you. (formal)
  • Looking forward to hearing from you. (less formal)
  • I look forward to your reply. (formal)
  • Hope to hear from you soon. (informal)

If you want them to contact you if they need more information, you can write:

  • Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance. (formal)
  • Let me know if you need anything else. (informal)

If you don’t want them to do anything:

  • Thank you for your help/assistance.
  • Have a nice day/weekend.

6. Use a Polite Closing 

Always finish your emails with one of the following sign-offs, followed by your name.

The classics

  • Regards,
  • Best,
  • All the best,
  • Sincerely,

The non-traditional

  • Hope this helps,
  • Have a great day,
  • Thank you so much,
  • Look forward to hearing from you,
  • Let me know if you have any questions,

The difference between “the classics” and “the non-traditional” is really about you. Is this a regular email that you send often? If so, a classic closing makes sense.

However, if you feel that this email should be more than just a regular email, then consider using a “non-traditional” closing. Be careful not to use these if you don’t mean it.

For example, it would be very awkward if you write “Look forward to hearing from you,” if you don’t want them to write back. And if you’re sending negative news, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate to end with “Have a great day!”

7. End with Your Signature

When you write a letter, you finish with your signature (signing your name). In email, after your closing with your name, you can automatically include an email “signature.” An email signature comes at the very end, and includes essential contact information.

Here’s an example:

Joe Milan | Villain Recruiting Representative
WorldTakeOver, Inc. | worldtakeoverinc.evil
Villain@WorldTakeOver.Evil | (999) 666-6666

1550 Secret Dr. Hideout Island, FL 99999 USA

Common mistakes in email signatures

Here are three common mistakes that people make in their email signatures:

  • Not including enough contact information. Remember that signatures are for people both inside and outside the company to contact you. Sometimes the best way is to send you an email, other times it could be by phone, fax, your website or in person.
  • Using fonts/colors/graphics. Often it doesn’t look professional and sometimes pictures don’t look the same on all email programs. Remember, it’s about communication and information, so usually it’s better to just use plain text.
  • Inspirational quotes. For many people, an inspirational quote is the best way to share their personality. In business, it’s just more clutter on the page. It often looks more personal than professional.

Business Email Pre-send Checklist

We covered a lot. From basic greetings and sign-offs, to bodies of typical business emails. Since that’s a lot of material, we’ve made a handy checklist so you can always remember these seven steps.

  • Greeting. If you don’t know the recipient well, be formal and use: “Hello Mr./Ms./Mrs. [Last Name].”
  • Tell the recipient who you are. If the recipient won’t remember you, remind them in one sentence: “I’m ~ who works for ~.”
  • State your purpose. Clearly tell the recipient why you’re writing.
  • Give useful details. Include what, where and when. Link to any relevant websites, and tell the recipient if you’ve attached a document.
  • Tell what action is needed. Make sure it’s clear what the recipient must do next.
  • Close the email. Use a classic sign-off like “Best” for common emails.
  • Signature. Make sure your signature looks professional and has enough contact information.

Email Phrases for Common Business Situations 

Here are some more tips and examples of language you can use for some of the most common situations in emails:

Responding to an Inquiry

If you’re writing to reply to an inquiry (a request for information), you’ll want to create goodwill (friendly and good feelings) with this person who may be your client or customer. Including the following sentences in your email helps do this:

  • Thank you for your interest.
  • Thanks for choosing…

You’re probably going to be sending some type of attachment to provide information. You can use the language for sending attachments and follow it up with:

  • We hope you find this satisfactory.
  • We hope you are happy/satisfied with this.

Here’s an example of how you might respond to an inquiry about the cost to install windows in a house:

I’m writing to respond to your inquiry about the cost of installing windows in your house (opening sentence). Please find our price list attached (file attachment). Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance. Thank you for your interest in Acme Enterprises (building goodwill/friendly ending).

Informing Someone About Something

Certain key phrases can help you get your message across clearly. Here are some opening sentence phrases you can use:

  • I’d like to inform you of…
  • I’m writing to tell you about…
  • Just a note to say…
  • Just to update you on…

Depending on your relationship with the reader, you can get a bit more creative. If you have a more informal relationship and know each other well, you can try using phrases like these:

  • Here’s the low-down on…
  • FYI: This is to let you know… (FYI stands for “For Your Information.”)

Toward the end of the email, you may want to add, “Hope this helps.”

You may also want to offer to give additional information if needed:

  • Let me/us know if you need anything else.
  • Let me know if I can help you further.

Confirming Arrangements

Writing to confirm arrangements? Let your reader(s) know this in the opening sentence:

  • I’d like to confirm…
  • Just writing to confirm…

Or you could set a more informal tone by writing:

Tuesday is good for me. (Especially if they have already suggested Tuesday.)

A nice way to end is to write: “Looking forward to seeing/meeting…”

Changing Arrangements

Oh no! You’ve made arrangements and now you have to change them. How do you politely let someone know this?

Any of these sentences and phrases should work:

  • I’m sorry but I can’t do/make Tuesday…
  • This is to let you know that I’ve had to put off/postpone…
  • I’m writing to call off/cancel…
  • I’m afraid I can’t make/manage Wednesday. How about Friday instead?

You don’t have to go into detail about why you need to change arrangements. The point of your email is simply to change arrangements. Keep it clear and brief.

Replying to a Previous Email

When you reach out by email to someone you don’t know and they write back, the polite thing to do is thank them for their time. Here’s how you can do that:

Thanks/Thank you for your email…

If someone has sent you an email and you write back, you can use one of these phrases at the beginning:

  • In reply to your email, here are …
  • Re: your email, I …

What else can be in your reply? Well, you might have to send attachments. If so, you’ll find the sentence, “You’ll find ___ attached,” valuable.
There are times, however, when you might not have all of the necessary information available. Then you might have to make a promise to get back to the sender by writing:

I’ll get back to you ASAP. (ASAP stands for “As Soon As Possible.”)

Giving Good News

Who doesn’t want to hear good news? Set the tone for your email right away by telling your reader you’re writing with good news. The words “pleased,” “happy” and  “delighted” work well. Include them in sentences like these:

  • I am/We are pleased to inform you…
  • I’m happy to tell you…
  • You’ll be happy/delighted to hear that…

Giving Bad News

Certain words let people know that bad news is coming. I’m talking about words like “regret,” “sorry,” “afraid” and “unfortunately.”

Unfortunately (you see I just used one), you’ll have to give bad news about business issues from time to time. Here are some sentence openings you can write to tell bad news as nicely as possible:

  • We regret to tell/inform you…
  • I’m sorry, but…
  • I am afraid that…
  • Unfortunately…


Complaining can be tough. But it’s easier to get what you want if you complain in a way that doesn’t offend your reader. The way to do that in an email is to not be too emotional and to make your complaint clear and specific.

The following phrases can help you get started:

  • I’m writing to complain (about…)
  • I was disappointed to find/hear…
  • I’m afraid that…
  • Unfortunately …

Making Inquiries

How can you ask someone to give you information? Start by using polite language to request what you want.

  • I am interested in receiving/finding out…
  • I would like to receive…
  • I would be grateful if…
  • Could/Can you please send me…?

Are you sure that the person you are writing to can help you? Don’t worry if you aren’t. Just ask by writing:

  • Would you be able to (help)…?
  • Can you help?

If you need an answer quickly, don’t assume the person you’re writing to understands this. Let them know by writing it:

“I’d appreciate a reply ASAP.”

Requesting Action

There are times when you want someone to do something for you. Here are useful phrases you can use to make your request:

  • Can you send… to me by Friday, please?
  • Please get/keep in touch.
  • Keep me posted.

Note that the word “please” can keep your request from sounding like an order.


With this checklist, your business emails will be powerful enough to defeat (win over) any evil villains, just like James Bond is!

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