How to Write a Formal Email [TEMPLATES]

How to Write a Formal Email [TEMPLATES]

Sending a formal email is one of those things we put off doing.

Why? Because it can be a little uncomfortable.

But when reaching out to someone you don’t know, formal emails are the way to go. It’ll help you make a good first impression and come off as professional rather than too casual.

In sales, first impressions are significant. So it’s important to get your formal emails right.

From email greetings to punctuations to phrases, we’ll cover it all.

Below, we look at ways to perfect your formal email format with tips, email templates (plus subject lines), and mistakes to avoid.

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Tips for Writing a Formal Email

Use Formal English

Formal emails require formal English writing. This means including complete sentences, conjunctions, and transition words. Informal writing has fragments and comma splices. Informal messaging rarely contains conjunctions or transition words.

This is important in sales because you want to be perceived as professional and sharp.

Punctuation, paragraph form, greetings, and sign-offs also vary from formal to informal communication.

Here’s a graphic showing the complete list of differences:

how to write a formal email

Use Proper Capitalization

The correct style of capitalization to use in your salutation is sentence case.

formal email mistake 1

Here are the worst offenders for formal email greetings:

“Good Morning” → should be “Good morning”

“Good Afternoon”→ should be “Good afternoon”

“To Whom It May Concern” → should be “To whom it may concern”

The exception to the rule: proper nouns (i.e. people’s first names, Ms./Mr. + last name, or job title).

End Your Salutation With a Colon

When you’re writing a formal email, your salutation should end with a colon, not a comma.

When sending a professional email, the colon will change the tone of the message right from the get-go. In sales, this can help you gauge the attention of your recipient right off the bat.

formal email mistake 2

Use Short Sentences

Your formal emails should never have comma splices.

A comma splice is what happens when you join two complete sentences with a comma.

formal email mistake 3

The takeaway: Comma splices are incorrect English grammar. They belong in text messages and other informal conversations.

Using short sentences in your email is a better sales strategy because you want prospects to understand your offering as quickly as possible. Be short and concise.

Use Proper Punctuation

Whenever you have a phrase or sentence in quotes, your end punctuation should go before the end quote.

This applies to commas that go on to continue sentences and periods that end them.

formal email mistake 4

The exceptions to this rule are the following types of punctuation: semicolons, colons, and dashes. These should go outside of quotation marks (question marks are a little more tricky).

Formal Emails Should Be Direct and Persuasive

As Americans, we pride ourselves on being direct.

But we aren’t always.

How many times have you found yourself writing phrases like “I am writing to”?

This is a roundabout way of setting up your request. It’s very indirect.

You can’t afford to be sheepish when your entire email has seven seconds to get their attention.

I am writing to tell you that it’s time to stop using this phrase.

Other examples of phrases to avoid:

  • “I wanted to ask you”
  • “I wanted to let you know that”
  • “I am reaching out to”
  • “The reason for my email is that”
  • “The purpose of this email is to”

Go ahead — jump right to that thing you’re winding up to.

Here’s why:

  1. Each phrase becomes self-evident with the text that follows. This makes you redundant where your messaging is most important: your first line.
  2. Being indirect doesn’t change the fact that you’re asking for or stating something uncomfortable. If anything, it shows hesitancy to leave your comfort zone.
  3. The email isn’t about you. It’s about what’s important to your recipient. Start with them.

What to do instead:

Start your draft with “I am writing to” to get your writing flow going. When you’re done, go back and delete that phrase. In most cases, you’ll still have a complete sentence without it. If you don’t, make a slight edit to turn what you have into a complete sentence.

cursor-clickEliminate the guessworkKnow when recipients read your emails, click on links, and view attachments

6 Formal Email Templates to Copy and Paste

Now, let’s look at some email templates that all incorporate necessary elements of a formal email format.

1. Formal Email Template for Making a Request

Subject Line Option A: Important – Action Required: {!Topic}

Subject Line Option B: Please Read: Needs Your Attention

Good morning, {!all/team/person}: 

{!Give pertinent context here}.

{!Link for further reference}

My request to you: {!formal request in one sentence}.

  • {!Action Item 1}
  • {!Action item 2}

More info on {!topic}…

What it involves:

{!1 sentence summing up the context}. 

This matters because:

-{!WIIFY — point 1}.

-{!WIIFY — point 2}.

-{!WIIFY — point 3}. 

Thank you for your help!

Grab a signoff line and tips for how to end an email here. Because writing “best” or “thanks” every time is a missed opportunity.

And here’s a similar professional email example to get you going with filling out the template:

formal email format example 1

2. Email Template for Cold Outreach

Subject line: Articles for your commute home

Hi {!FirstName}:

The last few calls I’ve had with companies like yours who {!specific stats about the recipient’s company} have led me to research {!topic that could be a pain point for them}.

I thought you would appreciate these articles. I thought they did a great job at addressing {!pain point}:

  • {!Link to content 1} – {!description of content 1}
  • {!Link to content 2} – {!description of content 2}
  • {!Link to content 3} – {!description of content 3}

If these resonated with you, let’s grab 15 minutes to see if {!Your Company} can help by {!proposed solution for solving pain point}.

Is there a day or time that generally works best for you?

3. Email Template for Giving a Formal Update

Subject Line: {!Topic} | {!Who/What It Affects}

Hi {!all/team/person}:

It is my pleasure to announce that {!change and people/focus it affects}.

{!Person or topic 1}

[Who/Why/What/Where/When. Tell a story here about how this change came to be.]

{!Person or topic 2}

[Who/Why/What/Where/When. Tell a story here about how this change came to be.]

[Final sentence reiterating change and how it affects readers.] Please join me in {!action}.

And here’s an example of the template above in real life. This business email announces promotions on our Customer Success team:

formal email format example 2

Tip: Always include your phone number and contact information in your email signature. For inspiration, here are 9 professional email signature examples.

pencil-altTired of re-writing emails?Save your top-performing emails as templates

4. Formal Email Template for an Apology

Subject line: {!focus area of issue}

Hello {!Customer Name}, 

{!We/team name} discovered an issue with {!what} {!when}.

What it means:

{!Negative affect to users}.

{!Note assuring users of things unaffected}

What happened:  

As soon as our team identified the issue, it was addressed and remediated {!same day}.

What you can do:


On behalf of {!team or company name}, we are very sorry for the inconvenience this causes you. I can assure you that we are analyzing how this issue occurred and ways to completely prevent recurrence in the future.

Thank you for your patience,

5. Email Template for a Termination

To whom it may concern:

Please be advised that, effective immediately, we have terminated your account with {!Company} due to {!reason}.

We regret having to take this action, but after our discussions with you {!Date & Time} regarding {!Wrongdoing}, we have seen no change in {!usage type}.  

The manner in which you are using our service jeopardizes {!Thing 1} as well as {!Thing 2}.


formal email format example 4

While the messaging is very direct, you need to be in a situation like this for legal purposes, clarity to the recipient, and finality. Language like “termination” and “effective immediately” show that this is a decision with no wiggle room for compromise.

Hint: If there were prior violations or instances where you gave warning, make sure to cite them.

6. Event Follow Up Template

Subject Line: Great to meet you at {!Event}

Hi {!First Name}:

It was nice to meet you at {!Occasion where you met}. I loved learning more about {!Something discussed}.

I’m really interested to hear more about your role as {!Job title} at {!Company name}, as {!Reason why you’re interested}.

If you have time in the coming weeks, let’s {!Follow up action}.

I’m generally free on {!Days of the week}, if that works for you?

Looking forward to keeping in touch!

How Yesware Can Help You Better Manage Email

Yesware can help your team better manage email with email templates that live in your inbox.

With email templates, you can save your top-performing emails in a template library that’s inside of your inbox. These templates personalize in seconds with fill-in-the-blanks or dropdown options.

Take a look:

Formal email: sending a cold email using Yesware Templates

You can send personalized templates to various users at once using campaigns.

And better yet, Yesware tracks all email sends so you’re always in the know of what is/isn’t working in your formal emails.

Try Yesware for free today.

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