E-mails

E-mailing has become a staple means of communication, and due to its convenience, speed and effectiveness, almost all means of communication are possible via email. It is, therefore, important to be aware not only of the register and style of an e-mail, the aspect of efficiency also needs to be considered – some refer to this as netiquette.

It is important to stress that an e-mail should not necessarily be seen as proper text type. It is more of a method that can be used to convey different kinds of text types. This means that many of the norms and conventions of letter writing apply also to the the writing of e-mails.

Depending on the purpose for the e-mail, different levels of formality and/or register should be adhered to. Below, a couple of example e-mails are shown. Furthermore, when writing routine e-mails, it is handy to have a bank of typical e-mail phrases at one's disposal. At the bottom of this subsection, such a bank of phrases is provided.

Formality in e-mails

A formal example

The following is an example of a formal email. Note the formalities of the salutation and closure, the tone used, and the efficiency of the message. It is always important to have a good and informative subject heading.

From: Joe Petersson
To: Jeremy Tomsson
Cc: Janice Martinsson
Date: 25th January 2009
Subject: Wages
Attachment: Martinsson’s Contract
Dear Mr Tomsson,

Thank you for your email regarding Ms Martinsson’s wages. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting but have attached a copy of Ms Martinsson's contract for your records.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Yours sincerely,
Joe Petersson

Human Resource Manager
Lund University

A semi-formal example

The following is an example of a semi-formal email. Note the less formal tone but still keeping an element of distance. Take note of the salutation and closure, and the efficiency of the message. It is important to have a good informative subject heading.

From: Peter Linsson
To: Anna Petersson, Tom Johnsson, Maria Almqvist, Henrik Dobsson
Cc:
Date: 25th January 2009
Subject: Staff information and wages
Hi Everyone,
Apparently, the Human Resource Department would like all staff to be aware of the changes in their wages as of March ’09. It is therefore important for you as Department Heads to gather your staff together and inform them as to the changes to prevent email overloads regarding such queries.
I know I can rely on your co-operation in this matter.
With thanks
Peter

An informal example

The following is an example of an informal email. Note the friendliness of  tone but still keeping it professional. Take note of the salutation and closure, and the efficiency of the message. Whether the email is formal or informal, it is always important to have a good informative subject heading.

From: Karin Tomsson
To: Henrik Dobsson
Cc:
Date: 25th January 2009
Subject: Wages
Hi Henrik,
I heard that you received an email regarding staff information and wages. I wasn’t on the mailing list so wondered if you could forward the email to me, please.
Thanks
Karin

E-mailing phrase bank

There are various reasons for writing formal e-mails. The following is a list of some of the reasons for writing more formal e-mails with a general bank of phrases for that purpose. Note that there is a difference in the purposes for writing and e-mailing more formal letters. Some letters are not appropriate for e-mailing, despite e-mailing being an electronic form of any piece of writing. For example, using an e-mail for providing bad news in a formal situation would be inappropriate in most cases.  

Starting an e-mail

  • Thank you for your e-mail asking about...
  • Thank you for your e-mail concerning...
  • Thank you for your e-mail enquiring...
  • My name is [x] and I would....
  • I have been asked to ....

Making reference

  • With reference to your e-mail, I...
  • In response to your e-mail, we can confirm...
  • With regard to your e-mail, the...
  • Following our phone conversation, I...
  • I am writing with reference to your enquiry.
  • Thank you for your email enquiring about...

Making a request

  • We would be grateful if you could...
  • I would be much obliged...
  • We would appreciate it if ....
  • Could you please (not very formal)...

Replying to a request

  • As you requested, please find attached...
  • As you suggested, I am sending you my CV/resumé
  • In answer to your enquiry, I am attaching information which I hope will be useful to you.
  • As promised, I am sending you the...
  • As requested,
  • As suggested,
  • Here is / Here are
  • We are happy to...
  • We wish to inform you...
  • Please find attached...
  • We regret to inform you...
  • We are sorry to tell you...

Establishing context

  • Your name was given to me by [source]
  • My colleague, Jan Andersson, suggested that I write to you concerning...
  • I have been advised to contact you regarding your request for leave of absence...
  • I am the student representative of _____ faculty and I am writing to you to ask if you would be interested in...
  • Jan asked me to write to you about
  • Could you supply me some information about...

Making reference to something your reader knows

  • As you may already know / have heard that...
  • As you probably know, ...

Informing

  • It has come to our notice that...
  • I am writing to inform you that...
  • Please be advised that...
  • I am writing to advise you that...
  • Just to let you know…
  • A quick note to tell you…

Expressing thanks

  • I/we am much obliged to you for...
  • I am grateful to you for...
  • Thank you for your reply
  • Thank you for your advice regarding...
  • I am writing to thank you for your assistance
  • Thanks for...(informal)

Apologising

  • We were (very/extremely/most) sorry to hear about ...
  • I/We regret that ...
  • I/We apologise for...