How to write the perfect email: Career expert reveals exactly what you should include

An Australian careers expert has revealed how to write the perfect formal email and what should never be included. 

Sue Ellson, from Melbourne, told FEMAIL it’s best to keep emails concise, ensure the font is one size and avoid the use of abbreviations in order to generate a swift response from the receiver.

The email advice will be helpful when applying for job interviews and emailing clients or others in the same industry. 

When writing the body of the email, Sue said to ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it's easier to read (stock image)

When writing the body of the email, Sue said to ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it's easier to read (stock image)

When writing the body of the email, Sue said to ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it’s easier to read (stock image)

Keep sentences short and concise

When writing the body of the email, Sue said you should ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it’s easier to read.

Summarising the purpose of the email in a few sentences will also likely generate a quick response. 

‘Long emails are less likely to be actioned, so try and focus on one main point or task per message and be aware that not everyone checks their emails instantly,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

There is also no need to indent paragraphs when writing emails.

When writing the body of the email, Sue said to ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it's easier to read

When writing the body of the email, Sue said to ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it's easier to read

When writing the body of the email, Sue said to ensure paragraphs are no longer than two lines long as it’s easier to read

Ensure the font is the same size and colour

Sue Ellson (pictured) told FEMAIL it's best to keep emails concise in order to generate a swift response from the receiver

Sue Ellson (pictured) told FEMAIL it's best to keep emails concise in order to generate a swift response from the receiver

Sue Ellson (pictured) told FEMAIL it’s best to keep emails concise in order to generate a swift response from the receiver

Sue recommended choosing a font of ‘reasonable size’ to ensure it can be easily read.

The font should be no smaller than 10 point, but size 11 or 12 is preferable.

Making specific sentences or words bold can also separate key points in the body of the text. 

Limit the use of exclamation marks

Certain punctuation marks are best to avoid when writing formal emails to coworkers, clients or potential employers. 

‘Exclamation marks are overdone and insecure; if every statement has an exclamation mark, it reduces the impact of the ‘true’ message,’ she said.

‘Too many exclamation marks could be considered shouting as well.’ 

HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT EMAIL:

For the opening line:

  • Choose a relevant subject title
  • Always address the individual if you know their name
  • Introduce yourself if needed

For the body of the email:

  • Keep sentences short and be concise
  • Don’t indent paragraphs
  • Make paragraphs no longer than two sentences 
  • Ensure the text is one size and the same colour 
  • Avoid using exclamation marks 
  • Don’t use abbreviations on full words
  • Avoid including the ‘Sent from iPhone’ default when using your phone
  • Avoid attaching too many files  

For the sign-off:

  • Choose an appropriate sign-off based on your relationship with the receiver 
  • For instance, ‘cheers’ can be used on a casual basis between coworkers but ‘yours faithfully’ should be used if you don’t know the receiver’s name. 
  • Ensure the sign-off is brief
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Avoid using abbreviations

Abbreviations should not be used in formal emails as the text can be misinterpreted, according to Sue.

‘Don’t use abbreviations on full words – it’s important to make the message clear to understand rather than incorporating hidden meanings,’ Sue said.

‘Abbreviations can be misinterpreted, particularly if the person is not familiar with the colloquial jargon, although if you know the person well, spelling everything out is a waste of time.’

Use an appropriate sign-off

From ‘kind regards’ to a simple ‘thanks’ and a ‘yours sincerely’, the online language can change the tone of an email significantly.

Sue said the sign-off term used should, first and foremost, be based on whether you know the receiver personally or professionally.

For instance, ‘cheers’ can be used on a casual basis between coworkers but ‘yours faithfully’ should be used if you don’t know the receiver’s name.

Those who leave the automatic message ‘Sent from iPhone’ at the bottom of the email are also considered to be somewhat unprofessional or in a rush. 

Which email sign-off is best?  

Kind regards – commonly used, polite, recommended by Sue 

Thanks – commonly used, casual, ideal for both co-workers and clients 

Yours sincerely – formal, perfect if the individual hasn’t met the receiver in person but knows their name

Yours faithfully – too formal but good to use if you don’t know the receiver’s name 

Cheers – casual and common, similar to ‘Thanks’, good to use between coworkers

Sent from iPhone – not recommended by Sue, highly informal and unprofessional 

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