Struggling to write professional emails in Canada? You’re not alone! This is why we have put together a step-by-step guide to help you with this task. Follow along and learn some communication tips that can be applied during your time at Hanson as well as in other professional areas of your life.
Step 1: Write the topic of your email in a subject line
Why are you sending the email? What do you want to ask or communicate? We can know what your email is about right away with an appropriate subject. Clear and to-the-point subject lines help us as we receive a lot of emails every day.
- Make your subject line simple and straight to the point.
- Start a new email if you have a different question to ask. If you need to email someone again with a new question, write a new email instead of simply replying to their last email. This helps to reduce confusion for the recipient of your email.
- For emails to Hanson staff and instructors, please add your H ID and/or name to your subject line so that we can easily identify you.
- Write your emails in the subject line. Most of the time, your sentences are cut-off in the middle and we cannot effectively address your question(s).
- Leave your subject line empty. You are not sending a text message.
Step 2: Start your email with a greeting
Consider who you are emailing and what position they hold before choosing the appropriate greeting. For example, if you are sending an email to a potential employer, you will want to choose a formal greeting to respect their position of authority.
Formal business greetings:
- Dear [name],
- Hello [name],
Friendly business greetings:
- Hi [name],
- Hi there,
Informal (casual) greetings:
Step 3: Address the recipient correctly
Use the name of your email recipient when possible. You can often find the name of the person you would like to reach within their email address, such as staff and faculty emails at Hanson College.
If you do not know who you are emailing, you can address the recipient with their job title. For example:
- Dear Instructor,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
If you do not know the name or job title of the recipient, you can use a nonspecific greeting such as:
- Hi there,
- In very formal settings, use the recipient’s full name and/or job title.
- If you are contacting someone you have already met or emailed before, you can use the recipient’s first name.
- Avoid the use of Mr./Sir/Madam/Mrs./Ms./Miss if you do not know the recipient’s gender and preferred personal title.
- Ask your instructors what they would like to be called. Some instructors prefer that you communicate in a professional manner.
- Misspell the recipient’s name.
- Assume the recipient’s gender based on their name.
Step 4: Write your email properly
As you write the main body of your email, always keep in mind who you are addressing and in what context.
- Be clear and to the point; you do not want to confuse your recipient.
- Write complete sentences with proper grammar and spelling.
- Show politeness and respect through your word choice. For example, use “could” instead of “can”.
- Use slang in your emails such as thx, u, plz, dunno, etc.
- Write the same information repeatedly but in a slightly different format.
Step 5: Add your signature
The final step to your email is an appropriate closing and signature.
Formal business closings:
- Kind regards; Regards
Friendly business closings:
- All the best; Best
- Thank you
- [no closing at all]
- Use your full name.
- You can also add other information to your signature such as your phone number, email address, and/or student number. This is useful, especially when you want the recipient to follow up with you.
- Forget to include your name.
- Use a nickname as your signature.
Now that you have read through all the steps, it’s time to see some practical examples of how a formal email compares to an informal email.
Example: A student is emailing a college staff member to ask about how to pay their fees.
Informal casual email:
Subject: Hey what’s up I need help with fees I dunno what 2 do plz respond to me right away
How r u doin? I dunno how 2 pay tuitions. Sir I kno the deadline was yesterday but I didn’t receive any emails about it. Can u help me plz?
Is this an appropriate email for the recipient to receive? Considering Steps 1-5, what would you change?
Now let’s apply Steps 1-5 to revise and edit the email to a professional tone.
Friendly business email:
Subject: how to pay my tuition fees (H1000XXXX)
How are you doing?
I have a question about how to pay my tuition fees. The deadline is next week, and this is my first time paying for my tuition on my own. I can’t find any information on this anywhere, and I am worried I will miss the deadline.
Could you help me please?
Thank you so much.
How we communicate with our friends and family differs greatly from the way we address business acquaintances, prospective employers, and people who hold a position of authority over us. When you are deciding which tone you would like your email to have, consider the impression you would like to leave with the recipient. It is always better to be more formal than not formal enough.
If you haven’t done so yet, please change your account name to your full name. If your name is displayed as “Baby Girl,” the recipient won’t get a good impression of you, especially when they are your prospective employer. If your name is “Jasmine Singh,” have it as your account name.
Also, it is recommended to create an email address with your own name. Email addresses like “happygolucky + at + gmail” or “ilovejustinbieber + at + yahoo” are not professional.
Sometimes it is better to have more than two email addresses. For example, you can use “jasmine.singh.123 + at + gmail” for your school, job search or LinkedIn account, and use “happygolucky + at + gmail” for your social media, online shopping, or other personal use.
NAU Canada Online: Tips for Writing Emails for All Situations:
Grammarly Blog: How to Start an Email:
Grammarly Blog: How to End an Email: