When emailing friends it is fine to use an a familiar and informal style, however, when you write an email about a job application or internship, an interview or when emailing your tutors it is good practice to adopt a more formal style.
Tips for writing a formal email:
- First impressions count – Think about your email address a prospective employer might remember you for all the wrong reasons if you contact them using an email address such as email@example.com. It is a much better idea to use your university email account – you can forward emails from this account to your personal email using the instructions here.
- Include a greeting– if you know your tutor using their first name in the greeting is fine. If you do not have a familiar relationship with them then use their family name e.g. Dear Dr. Smith. If you are applying for a job and don’t know the name of the person who will be reading your email it is good practice to include the greeting Dear Sir or Madam.
- Use the subject line and be informative – try to avoid just typing “hello” or “help”. If emailing your tutor tell them why you are contacting them e.g. Query about case study in Clinical Skills lecture. If you are applying for a job include details about the job being applied for e.g. Application for Library Assistant post ref: LIB/6291.
- Avoid text speak – Save ROFL and YOLO for emails to friends. Use full sentences and punctuation when emailing tutors and prospective employers. Use the spell check to make sure your message is correct before pressing send.
- DON’T SHOUT – Names, dates, places, most acronyms and the start of a new sentence should be capitalised, entire sentences shouldn’t.
- Size matters – Tutors and employers are busy people so be as concise as possible. Also avoid sending large attachments – find information about compressing files here.
- Provide details – Give the person you are contacting the information they need to answer your query effectively e.g. if you are querying something that was said in a lecture include the date and time.
- Good manners cost nothing but are always appreciated – include a please and thank you when making a request.
Sue is blogging about email etiquette.
- Include a sign off:
- To a tutor – “best wishes” or “regards”
- To a prospective employer you have addressed as Dear Sir or Madam the sign off should be “Yours faithfully”.
- To a prospective employer when the name is known e.g. Dear Mr. Smith the sign off should be “Yours sincerely”.
The sign off should be followed by your full name.
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