5 tips for writing a formal email

5 Tips for Writing a Formal Email


In many cases, in the process of applying to a university abroad and even after it, you will need to write a formal email – either to talk about the documentation or to accept your approval at the institution and confirm your enrollment. In these situations, you need to know how to formulate this type of e-mail, so that you do not give a bad impression to anyone who is going to read it. Thinking about it, here are 5 tips for you to structure your message in a more formal way.

5 tips for writing a formal email

First impressions: the subject

The subject is your first point of contact with the recipient of the email and is what will give the first impression of your message. Use this space to state the purpose of your email, always concisely. Whoever receives the email should be able to know what it is about just by the subject.

If you are already at the university abroad and are going to write a formal email to a professor, include your enrollment number to facilitate a consultation, if necessary. Likewise, include your account or reference number if you are writing for a company for which you have an account. Finally, don’t use all capital letters in the subject line and avoid using unnecessary words.


Whenever you’re writing a formal email, start by greeting the person you’re writing to. If you know who the recipient of the email will be, start your message with ‘Dear’, followed by the recipient’s title and name (preferably the surname, if it is for someone outside Brazil).

If you are unsure of who the recipient is, start with: “Whomever might interest”, or another equivalent phrase. Avoid starting a formal email with “Hello”, “Hi”, “Good morning / Good afternoon”, etc. Also make sure to type the recipient’s name correctly.

Introduction and body of the email

Carefully plan the content of your email and decide what is the most important information to transmit. Once you’ve determined this, use the first paragraph to introduce yourself and expand on the subject – that is, the reason you’re sending an email. Use the body of the email to include extra information, but make sure you don’t provide unnecessary details.

You are more likely to receive a quick and positive response if the recipient does not need to read a long email trying to decipher why you wrote it all. Otherwise, you may lose your reader’s interest. If you need to include important details in the message, ensure that they are clearly displayed and do not need to be searched in the text.

When writing a formal email, do not use abbreviations or slang. This is unprofessional and can make a negative impression. Finally, use only one language in the email, and a language that you know the recipient will be able to understand.

Ending the email

Ending the email

End your email with a friendly but formal farewell. Popular ways to end a formal email are using “Cordially”, or “ Yours faithfully ”, in English (if you know who the recipient is), or “ Yours sincerely ” or “ Yours sincerely ” (if you don’t know the name recipient).

Finally, add your first and last name. Then, provide your contact details, such as phone number and email address, so that the recipient knows where to contact you, if necessary.

Before clicking “Submit”

The last step, but probably the most important before sending your email, is to review it. Read the message carefully and look for spelling and grammatical errors. Use your computer’s grammar checker to ensure that all essential details are correct or, if you are writing in another language, use an online checker, such as Grammarly. It can also help to correct spelling and sentence construction.

Ask someone you trust to read the email, to make sure that it flows correctly, that it makes sense, that the tone is correct and that the intended message is being conveyed. A second opinion can make a big difference!