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Business Emails: Structure, Format & Tone

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  • 0:03 The Business Email
  • 0:50 Structure
  • 1:53 CC & BCC
  • 2:51 Reply & Reply All
  • 3:38 Length & Tone
  • 5:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Annette Lara

Annette is an accomplished business professional with expertise in Healthcare Operations and has a masters degree in Business Administration.

Solid business emails are essential to effective customer service. This lesson covers the basics of writing business emails, focusing on proper structure, format, and tone.

The Business Email

Emails are a popular form of communication in a business setting. Some people receive dozens, even hundreds, of business emails every day. So when writing a business email, you should consider several things before hitting that Send button. Not only do you want to be sure it gets to the right person, but you want the reader to clearly understand what you are trying to say. You must be mindful of your tone and context as well. Additional things to carefully consider when writing a business email include length, structure, confidential information, disclaimers, email signature, the use of Reply vs. Reply All, and Cc vs. Bcc. You want your reader to understand what you are trying to get across in a clear and direct manner while maintaining professionalism.

Structure

Much of an email's structure is built in, so we will focus mostly on the structure that you, the writer, can control.

Let's start with the basics. The To line is where you enter the email addresses of your intended recipients. The Subject line should be short and sweet. You want your subject to be eye catching and professional, but direct and to the point. If it is too vague, your email may be ignored. Many subject line entries are only a few words. A good subject line could say 'Goal Update' or 'Meeting Agenda.' Time stamps identify the time the email was sent and is automatically included in emails documenting the time the email is sent.

Many companies provide disclaimer/confidentiality statements on the bottom of their emails. Sometimes companies require a standard signature line as well. Other times you can create your own signature that you can set up to automatically display each time you send an email. These requirements allow companies to speak with one voice, maintain their brand, and protect against legal problems.

Cc & Bcc

Cc and Bcc allow you to send an email to multiple people at one time. These are also built in to your email structure. Cc means carbon copy (a holdover from the days of the typewriter), and lets you send the same email to two or more people. To enter more than one email in these fields you can separate the addresses with a comma. A downside of using Cc is that everyone gets to see everyone else's email address. Keep in mind who you are sending your message to and that not everyone will want their email address shared.

Bcc stands for blind carbon copy. This functions the same as Cc where you can send one message to as many email addresses as you would like, however it keeps all emails anonymous. The only email address the person receiving your message will see, is the one in the To field. To be super secret, you could use your own email in the To field and everyone else's in the Bcc field.

Reply & Reply All

When you receive an email you can reply to the sender using one of two options built in for you: Reply and Reply All. If you're replying to an email where the sender Cced several people, you have to choose which reply best fits your situation. For example, let's say you receive an email along with several others that asks 'Who received the project on writing business emails?' You may consider sending a Reply All to say 'I did.' In this way, others know that there is no need to reply; everyone included in the email knows you have it. Another example is an email you and others receive that says 'Please reply if you are available to work overtime.' You want to send a Reply only to the sender because it is not information that others need to know.

Length & Tone

The body of your email conveys your message, so you want to be sure that you use the right length and tone to communicate effectively.

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