You open the email, see the first few words, and you immediately stop reading. Why?
The greeting sounds cheesy and is probably spam.
So, how do you write an opening to your English emails, so they sound appropriate and connect with the reader from the first moments?
Here is my guide to starting your English emails professionally with a reminder of key principles, best practise, and some areas to avoid!
First some key principles on opening emails:
- If you have been emailing already, reflect the style of the other person. It can be a great way to connect to simply mirror their formality and writing style.
- A comma (,) after the greeting is the punctuation used in the UK. In the US, the colon is used after the greeting (:)
- There is usually no dot after Mr, Mrs or Ms
English greetings to use in emails:
|‘Dear’ is good for job applications, first contact and formal emails.|
|Good morning/ afternoon Victoria,
|Usually people move from ‘Dear’ after the first contact to a less formal stage such as these greetings.|
|Even less formal, and good to use with people you know well or work with regularly.
|Dear Mrs / Ms Rennoldson,||Using family names is not usual in business, except for very formal emails, some customer service emails and teachers in school.
If you decide to use this greeting for a woman, use Ms (not Mrs or Miss) as this is the generic greeting for all women.
And here are some English email greetings to avoid:
- Victoria – Although this is used by some people, just writing the name with no greeting sounds very formal and cold. It does not connect with the person receiving the email.
- To whom it may concern – too impersonal and old-fashioned. If you are writing to a company or organisation, then research and find out the name of the person you want to write to. Or use ‘Dear + company name,’
- All – Too impersonal, perhaps consider ‘Dear team,’
- Greetings – This is not common and sounds like you might be sending spam.
- Dear friend– Also sounds like spam and can be perceived negatively if you are writing to somebody you do not know.
- Victoria hi– This is incorrect, the word order is always, ‘Hi Victoria,’
When it comes to continuing the email well, then my next tip is not to forget the small talk! This sometimes surprises people, as they expect that small talk only belongs in spoken conversation. However, there is a simple small talk ritual in emails as well.
Here are my examples of great ways to connect with the reader before getting into the main purpose of your email:
- How are you?
- Hope you had a good weekend.
- Hope you are having a good week so far.
- Hope business is going well.
- Hope the xxxx project is progressing well.
Plus, some email small talk phrases to avoid (which I have seen in emails I have received!)
- How’s it going?/ How are you doing? – this sounds too informal in writing unless you know the other person well.
- How are things? – too generic, so be more specific, for example, ‘How are things going with your latest project?’
- How’s life? – the question is too general.
So, there you have some great ways to open your emails professionally and appropriately. Any questions, please get in touch.
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