E-mail may certainly feel less formal than sending a physical letter, but in academic and business settings, the same elements are required for both modes of communication.
For an informal e-mail, I sometimes simply put the person’s name followed by a dash, or a casual “Hey Theo!”. For more formal e-mails, stick to the traditional “Dear Professor Reynolds”. In most cases, you want to err on the side of more formal than less formal. Having a polite greeting demonstrates to the recipient that you’ve taken the time to address them, so hopefully they’ll now take the time to listen to what you have to say! You’ll also want to make sure that the name you use to address someone is at the appropriate level of formality. If you call your professor “Dr. Stone” in class, then you should write “Dear Dr. Stone” at the top of your e-mail. For an e-mail to your co-worker, “Hey Jim” works just fine, as long as you call him Jim normally. Think about what you would call the person in conversation, and go with that.
To Slang, Or Not to Slang
If you’re shooting an e-mail to your mom and dad, it may be fine to put in abbreviations and slang in your writing. If you’re writing to your boss or a co-worker, however, you want your writing to reflect the level of formality required by the situation. Use your best judgment, and when in doubt, go for formal.
Sometimes, firing off a quick e-mail seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal. However, a quick scan for any typos or other communication glitches before hitting the send button will be appreciated by your recipient and will reflect well on you. Sending error-ridden messages makes you appear sloppy, lazy, and uneducated, so take the few seconds required to read over your e-mail. Take advantage of the editing tools provided by your computer!
So you’ve finally reached the end of your e-mail. Whether it’s “Sincerely” or “Yours Truly” or my personal favorite, “Best,” make sure it fits the level of conversation you’ve already established. Don’t just end with a dash followed by your name. Choosing how to sign your name can be tricky. If you’re writing to someone who may be unfamiliar with you, put your full first and last name. If it’s someone you’re very familiar with, just your first name should suffice.
What are some other e-mail tips you have?