Proper Email Letter Format

Written by christa titus
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Proper Email Letter Format
Formal business e-mail should be well-written and look professional. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

When sending an e-mail for business purposes, you should format it as carefully as you would if you were sending a physical letter to the recipient. Correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are paramount. Keep all of the text flush left, and one paragraph return is placed between each paragraph. Use one font that's black or dark blue, and is easy to read. The text should appear uniform -- don't use several fonts with different styles, sizes or colours. Avoid adding decorative backgrounds since they might not translate when the email is sent, and never type anything in all capital letters.

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The heading fields should be completely filled out. The "To" section is the recipient's e-mail address. The computer will automatically fill the "From" field with your address and time stamp the message. The addresses of anyone who needs to be copied or blind copied on the letter are added to the respective fields. Treat the "Subject" field like a mini-headline that identifies the purpose of the email. For example, "Prospective Client Inquiring About Hourly Legal Feels" is more informative that the words "legal fees" or a greeting like "hello."


The first line of the body of the email contains a formal salutation, such as "Greetings, Mr. Thomas" or "Good afternoon, Dr. James." The rest of the email should be written in short paragraphs that clearly and concisely explain the topics you wish to address, with a line of space also appearing between each graph. (If the email is long enough to fill two pages of paper, send it as an attachment, and have the email inform the recipient that you attached the document for them to read as time permits.)

Complimentary Close

A complimentary close signifies that you've concluded what you want to say. The closing is used to thank the reader for their time or to ask them to consider the ideas you have proposed. Appropriate closing lines include, "Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter" and "Your time is much appreciated." You can also write "Respectfully" or "Sincerely."

Signature Line

The signature line is where you "sign" the email with your first and last name. You can also add your formal title if you prefer, such as "Mr." or "Dr." The signature line follows the email's complimentary close.

Signature Block

The signature block appears last. It acts as the letterhead on formal business stationary that provides your contact information. A small line of keyboard characters, such as asterisks, separates the block from the rest of the email. The block should contain the following information, with each item listed on a separate line: Your full name; your position with your company; your company's name; the company's street address; the city, state and Postcode; your office and cell phone numbers; your fax number; your e-mail address; and your website.

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