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How to Write a Formal Email

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Whether it is for business or for other purposes, knowing how to write a formal or professional email is an extremely valuable skill.

In the subject line of your email, be sure to use a short, clear description of your reason for emailing. Avoid things like 'Hello' or leaving the subject line blank.

Before you’ve even started to write your email, it’s important to know how to use titles when addressing someone.

- For men, using ‘Mr’ along with either their surname or first name is appropriate

- Married women should be addressed with ‘Mrs’

- ‘Ms’ is used for women regardless whether they are married or not.

- University professors may be addressed as 'Prof.’, and doctors are 'Dr’

Now, let’s look at how to start your email!

If you know the name of the person you are emailing and have a formal relationship with them, begin by saying ‘Dear Ms [Surname],’. If you don’t know the person’s name, use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, or ‘To whom it may concern’.

Top Tip: Remember to always include a comma after ‘Dear [Name]’!

If you have a more casual or informal relationship with the person you’re emailing, something like ‘Hi [First Name]’ or ‘Hello [First Name]’ is perfectly acceptable.

Introduce yourself, and explain why you are writing

Explain who you are, including any important information that is related to your enquiry.

Tell your reader why you are writing. Make sure to include any details that will help them with your question, if you have one. Let’s take a look at an example at what we’ve got so far:

‘Dear Ms. Smith, My name is Jane and I am a 26-year-old from Colombia. I am writing to ask for more information about the English courses you have available at EC Oxford. I have studied English in school, but would like to improve my abilities at your school.’

Signing off

This, again, depends on your relationship with the reader – let’s take a look at the best ways to sign off formal and professional emails for now:

Using ‘Sincerely’, ‘Cordially”, and ‘Best’, followed by your full name are all excellent ways to close your email.

‘Thank you very much for your time.


Jane Smith’


Now try it yourself!

  • The person you are emailing is a woman who you have a formal relationship with, and you don't know if she is married or not. How do you address your email?

  • You don't know the name of the person you are emailing. How do you start your message?

  • You are writing to ask for more information about studying at EC Oxford. What is a good subject line for your email?

  • How do you sign off your formal email?