Email Etiquette 101: How to write a professional email

by Aug 7, 2023

In today’s digital world, email is unavoidable in a professional workplace. As you prepare to enter the job market, mastering the art of writing a professional email is a must. But, as with all new skills, it comes with a learning curve, and you won’t get it right all the time. So, here are 5 key tips to keep in mind when writing work emails.

1. Always open and close your email politely

A solid opener and sign-off are absolutely necessary in professional emails. They show that you care about knowing who you are sending your email to, and making sure they know who it’s coming from. While you may have seen and enjoyed a few funny email signoff compilations on TikTok, it’s best to stick to the classics.

For openers, use phrases such as:

  • Dear [Recipient’s Name],
  • Hello [Recipient’s Name],
  • Hey [Recipient’s Name],*

Also, always remember to double check you are spelling the recipients name correctly.

When closing your email, consider sign offs like:

  • Regards,
  • All the best,
  • Sincerely,
  • Thanks,*

These simple gestures help to set the tone of the email as respectful and professional.

*If in a less formal context, such as someone you speak to regularly or are friendlier with.

2. Avoid Slang, Spelling, and Grammar errors

When writing work-related emails, you should generally avoid using colloquialisms, informal language, or slang. Always make sure to proofread your emails before you send them, as spelling and grammar mistakes can make you appear careless or unprofessional. Try to use formal written English, and if in doubt, run important emails through review software.

3. Understand who you are sending it to

In conjunction with the above, make sure to always be aware of who you are writing to. Humour can be appropriate in some situations. However, its relevance depends on the context of the email and who is receiving it. It is always best to steer clear of any inappropriate jokes, and consider who you are speaking to before sending humour.

Be wary of the ‘Reply All’ function. Consider if the information you are sending really needs to be sent to all recipients. Additionally, make sure you know the difference between CC, and BCC to avoid sharing recipients’ details with others that don’t need to know them. 

4. Keep formatting clean and simple

A cluttered or difficult-to-read email can be overwhelming and make it harder for the recipient to understand your message. Use paragraphs to break up large chunks of text, and consider using bullet points or numbered lists for better readability.

Make sure to use a simple, easy-to-read sans-serif font, and avoid lengthy signatures.

Poorly formatted email

How NOT to format your work emails!

5. Keep a positive and professional tone

A positive and optimistic tone in your emails can go a long way in forming good relationships. Avoid using aggressive language or sounding demanding, as it can create a negative perception of you. Whether you are requesting information, applying for a job, or seeking advice, maintaining a courteous and positive tone will leave a lasting impression.

For example, here is a table of some common negatively-toned emails, and the positive alternatives.

Instead of saying:

Use this instead:

I don’t know.

I’m not sure, but I’d be happy to clarify with…

What do you mean?

Do you mind explaining a bit more about what you meant by …

Sorry for the late reply.

Thanks for your patience.

I didn’t get that done.

Thanks for checking in. I’m still working on this, but will let you know as soon as it’s complete.



In any career, effective email communication is a must-have skill. By following this guide, you can create professional emails that leave a positive impact on the receivers. Remember, every email you send is an opportunity to showcase your professionalism, so take the time to compose thoughtful and well-structured messages. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making a strong and lasting impression.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Amelia Bussing

Amelia Bussing

Communications Assistant

Amelia is a Sydney-based writing and communications enthusiast working at UTS Careers as a Communications Assistant. She is UTS Alumni who studied a Bachelor of Communications (Creative Writing & Advertising), and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation. She is passionate about creativity, storytelling, and the art of a well-timed gif, and has a vast collection of crazy socks.