You could be asked to write a formal email for a Functional Skills English Level 1 or an Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 1 assessment.
In general, emails have taken over from letters in everyday life. Emails are usually more informal than letters but can be formal. A formal email is less formal than a formal letter, but you still need to ensure that the correct parts of an email are present. Below is an example of a formal email of complaint, based on the same case as in the letter you wrote earlier.
Subject: Faulty Vacuum
Dear Mr Trent
On 25 September I bought a vacuum cleaner, model Ultra Cool ZX3 costing £75, from your shop.
After three weeks the cleaner stopped working. It turns on but does not have any suction power and will not pick anything up.
Please confirm that as the product is under guarantee you will replace it. I will come into your shop on Saturday 2 October to collect the replacement. Before I make the journey to the shop please can you let me know by telephone if you have another cleaner in stock? My telephone number is 01234 567890.
Thank you for your help with this matter.
A N Customer
This is the usual structure of an email, although not all will be exactly the same:
- the recipient’s address (this needs to be selected or written)
- the subject of the email
- the greeting
- the body of the email
- the closing/sign-off.
Greetings and closings in an email are much more flexible than in a letter.
If you are writing a formal email (for a job application, for example), you can still use the formal ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ used in a letter. However, you are more likely to know the name of the person you are writing to, so to set a friendly tone the name of the person is usually used in the greeting. It is also acceptable to write ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’.
If the email is formal and you don’t know the person you are emailing well, use ‘Dear’. If the email is not formal and you know the person, ‘Hi’ is often fine.
You can use ‘Yours faithfully’ to close an email, but ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Best regards’ are much more common.