How to write a formal email

We all write emails because they are fast, immediate and allow us to interact with our colleagues and business partners. Writing a formal email requires certain skills. So if you want to make a good impression on behalf of your company, follow our tips.

What is a formal letter? We usually send it to our colleagues, business partners, someone we don’t know well or to someone who’s in a position of authority.

A formal email differs from an informal one. The main difference lays in the structure and the style. A formal email has a very defined structure, with a definite opening part, introduction, body, conclusion and signature section.

You also use language differently in a formal email than in a casual email. The tone of a formal email is different as well. An informal email may not even use complete sentences or proper grammar, but a formal email always does. Here’s an example of formal email language:

The meeting is scheduled for May 15th at 9:30 a.m. All members of the team should attend. Your project updates are needed.

Compare the formal language with the informal email language in this email:

Meeting – May 15, 9:30 a.m. Updates needed. See ya there.  🙂

Both statements convey the same information. But the tone and style of the first one is much more formal. Notice the incomplete sentence, slang, and emoticon in the informal example.

Let’s talk more about style.

Unlike the Polish language which requires long complex sentences in a formal written context, English is very concise and tends to use short sentences and a simple structure. Make sure you break up the text into paragraphs – it will help the reader to quickly see the key points.

Never use colloquial English (gonna, wanna) or slang. Although it’s usual to contract words in spoken and informal written English (e.g., can’t, won’t, shouldn’t and hasn’t), it’s better to avoid using any contractions in your business email.

Formal English uses more complex vocabulary than everyday speech. For example, it uses many “bigger” words. Examples are multi-syllable words like compensateascend and interrogate. It also prefers one-part verbs (e.g., establish) to simpler phrasal verbs (e.g., set up). The vocabulary tends to be formal.

Formal Informal
enormous whopping
on the one hand,  as indicated above by the way, that reminds me
comprehend, understand get


Check the email

Never send an email in English without having re-read what you wrote. Grammatical or typing mistakes are very common even in your own language, so in English you can make errors much more easily. Double-checking what you’ve written is a simple step to take that can prevent you from appearing unprofessional and above all careless.

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