Purpose, Content & Structure of Emails

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  • 0:15 Definition of Email
  • 0:24 Purpose & Content
  • 1:43 Structure
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Emails are perhaps the most ubiquitous form of business communication today. In this lesson, you'll learn about the purpose, content, and structure of emails in a business context. A short quiz follows.


Valarie is a busy real estate agent who must communicate with different people both inside and outside her real estate brokerage firm on a daily basis and she uses e-mail as her primary communication medium. Email is a computerized system for sending digital messages from one computer to one or more other computers.

Purpose & Content

Email is a very flexible medium and can be used for a variety of purposes. Valerie uses her email to send directives or instructions to members of her sales team. She uses a brief email as a cover and attaches important documentation to the email like listing agreements and purchase agreements. She also uses email to send her advice or recommendations to her clients and to provide a status report on things like a pending offer or an upcoming real estate closing. If a client gives her instructions to do something, such as accept a counteroffer, that email will provide documentation and confirmation that Valerie has permission to do it. She also receives reports from her firm, such as her sales and commission report, and receives notices of sales meetings and other events via email. Her firm will often send new rules and procedures to her by email as well. Finally, email is one of the best ways for her to ask questions of clients, other agents, subordinates, or the management at her firm.

It should be noted, however, that security is not the best with emails. Sensitive information, such as passwords and account information, should not be sent via email.


While many personal email messages can be very informal, emails sent for business purposes should be structured in a professional manner. This doesn't mean the email cannot have an informal or casual tone; however, an email doesn't give a business writer permission to ignore the structure and rules of professional business correspondence. Let's look at the typical structure of one of Valerie's emails.

All emails have a header, which looks very much like a standard memo header with a date, 'to,' 'from,' and subject line. Valerie's business email address includes her full name, which helps her readers to recognize who the email is coming from so the email is not ignored as possible spam. Likewise, she is certain to use an informative subject in the subject line of the header to help the reader quickly identify the purpose of the communication. For example, if she is attaching a counteroffer to a client's offer to purchase a house, she'll put 'counteroffer' in the subject line.

The next part of a business email is the salutation or greeting. While many personal emails may fail to utilize a salutation, business emails should include some form of salutation. When emailing clients, other agents, or her broker, Valerie often uses the salutation 'Dear' followed by the recipient's name. If the last name is used, the relevant honorific is included, such as 'Mr.,' 'Mrs.,' 'Ms.,' or 'Dr.' When the email is internal or sent to a group, a simple 'Hi' or 'Hello' may suffice.

The body of a business email is typically written in paragraph form like a business letter. Valerie always includes a brief one or two sentence introduction to familiarize her readers with the topic to be discussed.

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