Email structure for business

One of the advantages of emails over normal ’snail-mail’ letters is that they are quick and direct. We send an email for a particular purpose and we expect a fast response or immediate action. For emails – whether formal or informal – to be most effective, it is a good idea to give them a clear, logical structure.

Subject line

This is should be short and give some specific information about the contents of your message.


As in letter-writing, the salutation can be formal or informal, depending on how well you know the person you are writing to.

Dear Mr, Mrs, Ms …A formal form of address, also used when first contacting a person.
Dear JohnLess formal. Either you have had contact with person before, or they have already addressed you by your first name.
Hi / Hello Mary (or just the name)Informal, usually used with colleagues you often work with. In the USA and the UK also sometimes used at first contact.
(no salutation)Very informal, usually used in messages which are part of a longer email exchange.

Opening sentence

This is used to explain why you are writing. (Remember: the opening sentence should always start with a capital letter.)

I’m writing to …More formal introduction to say why you are writing.
Just a quick note to …Friendly, informal way to say why you are writing.


This is where you tell the reader what kind of response, if any, you expect.

Looking forward to your reply.Friendly ending, can be used in formal or informal correspondence.
Hope to hear from you soon.Informal ending to indicate a reply is necessary.


Like the salutation, this can vary from formal to very informal.

Yours sincerelyVery formal, rarely used in email correspondence.
Regards / Best wishesMost commonly used close, can be used in formal and informal emails.
Bye / All the Best / BestFriendly, informal close.
James / MaryName only (or initials) is also common when writing to close colleagues.

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