Inspired by a lovely short story (written in Singaporean corporate jargon), we felt the need to write a simple guide on the fine art of email writing. You can commission your agency to create the most polished landing pages ever, but if your emails are too starkly different in quality and tone, you may not see the full benefit of your agency’s efforts. So, read on and be sure to share this with your client-facing colleagues.
Re: Rgds, Revert, and Irregardless
Before we proceed, please type “revert OR rgds OR irregardless in:sent” into your Gmail search bar. If you have written any of these words, you may want to consider a business writing course. (Unless it is part of your personal branding. This form of writing apparently grants a specific type of civil servants special powers.)
Your first line can literally make or break your email. Skipping greetings (or even misspelling names) may result in a poor impression, especially if it's a new day or a new thread. Here are your options to get everyone in the right frame of mind:
Openings and Greetings
- “Hello <Name>” – Safe option, most of the time.
- “Hi <Name>” – Only use it for the people you work very closely with. (General rule of thumb: You exchange 2 or more emails a day, or have worked together intensively for a couple weeks.)
- “Dear <Name>” – This is for formal or serious correspondence. Job offers, complaints, annual wage increments, and the like. It’s also fine for the first email to new/cold contacts, or someone respected. If the person is 5 (or more) ranks up from you, you can consider “Dear Mr/Mrs/Mdm/Dr <Family name>,”.
- “Hey <Name>” – Unless you work for a really informal company, save this for instant messaging and friends.
- “Dear Sir/Madam” – Hang on, do you have that person’s name, and should you be contacting that person at all?
- “Good morning team/<Name>,” OR “Morning <Name>,” – Good if you’re replying to an email sent after 6pm the day before. Also great for Monday mornings. Exclamation marks are fine if something exciting is coming up.
Tip: Unless the subject is of really high-importance, do address the specific people who need to pay particular attention or take action. You can reinforce individual actions with @name in the main body of the email.
Endings and Sign-offs
You've written a nicely structured and super readable email. Good use of bullet points, and you got all the details. Now, how do you finish on a good note?
For everyday emails, here are the safe options:
- “Best regards,”
- “With thanks,”
- “All the best.”
- “Talk/Speak soon,”
- “Have a great day/week/weekend ahead.”
You’re quite unlikely to go wrong with these. “Regards,” is acceptable too, especially if you email on a high frequency. However, if you’re writing to a new or cold contact, you may want to be more formal in tone. Consider these options instead:
- “Kind regards,”
- “Thank you for your kind attention.”
The place for “Warm regards” and “Friendly regards”
If you have literally been through thick and thin with everyone in the CC, and know there’s a strong camaraderie within the team, you can consider “Warm regards”. It’s great if you’re writing a heartfelt thank you for a job exceptionally well-done. (Note: “Warmest regards” and “Fond regards” are for family and friends.)
Save “Friendly regards” for one-to-one email correspondences. If you have done or shared something of great personal service to the receiving party, you can use this. Maybe you are setting someone up with a desirable job, or you corrected a jarring mistake in someone’s important announcement post. It’s a way to help someone “save face” and build strong rapport.
I believe you meant to write “We’re proud to support Public Education” instead of “We’re proud to support Pubic Education”. Please review the updated tweet here.
Sometimes, you might get lucky enough to have colleagues and partners go the extra mile for you. Regardless of the scale of the favours involved, and how you choose to reciprocate in actions, it’s always good to say your thanks.
In order of increasing formality & gratitude:
- “Thanks again,”
- “With thanks,”
- “Warm regards,”
- “With gratitude,”
- “With my deepest appreciation,”
Thank you for catching that. Lunch’s on me tomorrow.
I just heard from James about your really positive feedback regarding my work. The recognition means a lot to me, because the past 6 months have been quite intense. Getting a new home, writing my master’s degree thesis… Along with that massive rebranding exercise for your account.
Thank you for reaffirming our partnership, and for being in the trenches with me every step of the way.
How you write an email is ultimately a reflection of the relationships, personalities, and contexts of all the people involved in the email conversation. So, adjust to match the tone and level of formality used by the people you’re writing to.
You should now be all set for professional and team emails. However, do be aware that additional rules apply if you’re writing for a larger audience. Speak to us, if you want effective and tastefully written EDMs.