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How To Write a Professional Email in South Africa (With Tips and Examples)

In an increasingly digital world, emails are the most popular form of communication for both personal and business purposes. 

With the number of emails sent and received daily expected to reach 347.3 billion in 2023, you must write professional emails to stand out from the competition. 

Unfortunately, if yours is written poorly, no one is going to open or reply it, so it’s crucial to adhere to certain best practices when drafting your emails.

1. Subject Line: Keep it short, clear, and direct.

When it comes to writing professional emails, the subject line is one of the most important aspects. 

You need to grab the recipient’s attention and make them want to open your email. 

The best way to do this is by keeping your subject line short, clear, and direct. 

Avoid using fancy words or phrases that might confuse or mislead the recipient.

A good practice is to keep your subject line under 10 words if possible. This ensures that it can be read quickly and easily on any device. 

It’s also essential to include specific details about the content of your email in the subject line so that people know what they’re getting into before even opening it.

Remember, a clear and concise subject line will not only help you get more responses but also save time for both you and the recipient in the long run. 

So always spend a few extra moments crafting an effective subject line for every email you send out. 

Here are some examples of bad and good email subject lines:


  • “Hi”
  • “Important!”
  • “URGENT”
  • “FYI”
  • “Meeting”
  • “Update”
  • “Question”

These subject lines are either too generic, too vague, or too urgent without providing any context or information.

They don’t give the recipient any reason to open or prioritize the email over other emails in their inbox.


  • “Follow-up on our meeting: Action items and next steps”
  • “Invitation to our company’s annual holiday party”
  • “Request for feedback on new product design”
  • “Reminder: Submit your expense report by Friday”
  • “Congratulations on your recent promotion!”
  • “Answer to your question about our services”

These subject lines are specific, clear, and provide context and information that entices the recipient to open and read the email. 

They help the recipient understand the purpose and importance of the email and make it easier for them to prioritize it.

2. Greeting: Start with a professional greeting.

Starting an email with a professional greeting is the first step towards creating a positive impression on the recipient.

It sets the tone for the rest of the email and shows that you respect their time and attention. 

When writing a professional email, it is crucial to address the recipient by name, if possible. 

This personal touch shows you are not sending a generic message to everyone on your contact list.

Along with addressing the recipient by name, it is also essential to use an appropriate level of formality in your greeting. 

This will depend on your relationship with the recipient and the context of your message. 

For example, if you are emailing someone for the first time, it may be more appropriate to use “Dear” instead of “Hi” or “Hello”. 

On the other hand, if you have an established working relationship with someone, using a more casual greeting may be acceptable.

Here are some examples of the best opening greetings for a professional email:

  • “Dear [First Name],” (if you know the recipient’s name)
  • “Hello [First Name],”
  • “Good morning/afternoon/evening [First Name],”
  • “Greetings [First Name],”
  • “To Whom It May Concern,” (if you don’t know the recipient’s name)

3. Introduce Yourself: Include your name and the name of the organization you are representing.

When sending professional emails, it is vital to introduce yourself and the organization you are representing properly. 

This creates a sense of credibility and helps establish your authority in the conversation. 

To start, clearly state your name and job title within the organization. 

This will give the recipient an idea of who they are corresponding with.

Additionally, make sure to include the name of the organization you represent, especially if it is not well-known. 

Providing this information can also help build trust with the recipient as they will have a better understanding of who they are communicating with.

It is also helpful to include any relevant contact information such as phone numbers or email addresses, for further correspondence.

Introducing yourself and your organization professionally sets a positive tone for future communication and helps establish credibility from the very beginning of your email exchange. 

Here’s an example of a perfect introduction for a professional email:

Dear [First Name],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name] and I am the [Your Position/Title] at [Your Company/Organization]. I am reaching out to you regarding [Reason for the email]…

4. State Your Purpose: Clearly explain why you are emailing.

When writing an email, it is important to state your purpose clearly and succinctly. 

This allows the recipient to quickly understand why you are contacting them and what action, if any, they need to take. 

Failing to state your purpose can lead to confusion and may result in your email being ignored or deleted.

To effectively state your purpose, consider starting your email with a clear subject line that summarizes the content of the message. 

Next, provide a brief introduction that explains who you are and why you are reaching out. 

Finally, clearly articulate what action you would like the recipient to take or what information you need from them.

Remember that people receive numerous emails every day, so making sure your purpose is clear can help ensure that your message stands out and receives attention. 

Here’s a possible example that illustrates what we just talked about:

Subject: Request for feedback on project proposal

Dear Dr. Smith,

I am a student in your Introduction to Business course and I am writing to request your feedback on my project proposal.

As you may recall, I have chosen to research the impact of social media marketing on customer loyalty for a local bakery. I have attached my proposal to this email for your review.

I would appreciate it if you could take a look at my proposal and provide me with any comments or suggestions by Friday, March 17th. This will help me improve my work and meet the deadline for the final submission.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely, Maria Jones

This email clearly states its purpose in the subject line, provides a brief introduction that explains who the sender is and why they are contacting the recipient, and clearly articulates what action they would like the recipient to take or what information they need from them. 

It also follows a formal tone and format that is appropriate for an academic setting.

5. Provide Context: If necessary, provide additional information to give context to the reader.

Context is crucial when it comes to writing professional emails.

It can help clarify information and prevent misunderstandings between the sender and recipient. 

So, next time you sit down to write an email, be sure to provide additional information that gives context to the reader. 

This may include background information, previous communication history, or any relevant details that could impact the recipient’s understanding of your message.

One way to provide the context in your email is by using clear subject lines. 

This not only helps the recipient understand what your email is about but also makes it easier for them to locate it later on if needed. Additionally, consider using bullet points or numbered lists to break up large blocks of text and highlight key points.

Another helpful tip for providing context in emails is to include links or attachments where appropriate.

This may include references to documents that support your message or links to external resources that may help the recipient better understand what you are trying to convey. 

By providing these additional resources, you make it easy for recipients to access further information and gain a deeper understanding of your message. 

6. Keep it Concise: Get to the point quickly and avoid unnecessary words.

In order to write professional emails, it is important to keep them concise. 

This means getting straight to the point and avoiding unnecessary words. 

One way to do this is by using bullet points or numbered lists instead of long paragraphs. 

Another tip is to remove any filler words such as “just” or “really” that don’t add any value to the message.

Why should you do this?

Well, it ensures that your message is clear and easy for the recipient to understand. 

It also shows that you respect their time and have thought carefully about what needs to be communicated. 

Here are some examples of unnecessary words to avoid when writing a professional email:

  • “Just” (e.g. “I just wanted to follow up”)
  • “Actually” (e.g. “I actually have a question”)
  • “Really” (e.g. “I really need your help”)
  • “Very” (e.g. “I’m very excited to hear back from you”)
  • “Kind of” (e.g. “I kind of need your feedback”)
  • “Sort of” (e.g. “I’m sort of confused by your email”)
  • “Basically” (e.g. “Basically, what I’m trying to say is…”)

These words can make your writing sound less confident and can weaken the impact of your message. 

They can also be seen as filler words that add unnecessary length to your sentences.

Remember, most people receive a large number of emails every day, so keeping it short and sweet can help your message stand out from the rest.

7. Use Clear Language: Write in a language that is easy to understand and avoid using jargon.

Using clear language is one of the best practices for writing professional emails. 

Your email message should be easy to read and understand, so that your readers don’t have to struggle to decipher what you’re trying to say. 

Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may not be familiar to everyone who reads the email.

Instead, use simple and concise language that gets straight to the point. Make sure your sentences are short and easy to follow, without too many clauses or complex phrases. 

Avoid using words that are too formal or academic, as this can make your email sound stiff or impersonal.

One way to ensure clarity in your emails is by avoiding unnecessary words or filler phrases. 

For example, instead of saying “I just wanted to follow up,” you could simply say “Following up.” 

This helps get rid of extra verbiage and makes your message more direct and clear. 

8. Check for Grammar and Spelling: Proofread for accuracy and make sure everything is spelled correctly.

Good grammar and spelling are essential for professional emails. 

Typos, errors, and poor grammar can make the message difficult to read and may even cause misunderstandings. 

It’s important to always proofread your email before hitting send.

One way to ensure proper grammar is by using a grammar checker tool like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor

These tools can help you catch errors that you might have missed otherwise. 

However, it’s still important to review your email manually as automated tools are not perfect and may miss some mistakes.

In addition to reviewing for accuracy, also keep an eye out for tone in your email. 

Email communication is often limited in terms of tone and body language, so it’s important that the words you choose accurately reflect your intended message. 

9. Include a Call to Action: Invite the reader to take the desired action.

A call to action (CTA) is a crucial component of any email because it encourages your readers to take the desired action. 

Whether you want them to visit your website, sign up for a newsletter, or make a purchase, including a clear CTA can help you achieve that goal. 

Your CTA should be concise and straightforward so that your readers know exactly what they need to do. 

It can be placed at the end of your email or in the body text.

When crafting your CTA, keep in mind what you want the reader to do next. 

For example, if you want them to sign up for a webinar or download an ebook, make sure that the CTA reflects this by saying something like “Register now” or “Download our ebook.” 

You can also create urgency by using language like “Limited time only” or “Act fast.” 

By doing this, you’re more likely to motivate your readers into taking action.

Don’t assume that simply sending out an email will be enough; instead, aim for clarity and concision when crafting these CTAs and focus on making them as compelling as possible. 

Here are some examples of CTAs (calls to action) you can use in your professional emails:

  • “Please let me know your thoughts.”
  • “I look forward to hearing back from you.”
  • “Please confirm your availability for our meeting.”
  • “Could you please provide me with more information about [topic]?”
  • “Please find attached the document you requested.”
  • “If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.”
  • “I would appreciate it if you could reply by [date].”
  • “Please let me know if this proposal meets your needs.”
  • “Can we schedule a call to discuss this further?”
  • “Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.”

10. Include a Signature: Include contact information, such as a phone number and website.

Including a signature in your professional emails helps build trust and credibility with your recipients, as it provides them with quick and easy access to your contact information. 

A signature should include your name, job title, company name, phone number, email address, and website if applicable. 

You can also add links to relevant social media profiles.

Having a well-designed signature can make all the difference when it comes to leaving a lasting impression on clients or potential employers. 

Make sure that the font in your signature matches the rest of your email body text for consistency. 

Also, be mindful of cluttering up your signature with too much unnecessary information or images.

Here’s a template you can use to craft your own professional email signature:

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Position/Title]

[Your Company/Organization]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Website (optional)]

[Links to Professional Social Media Profiles (optional)]


  • Keep your email signature concise and easy to read.
  • Use a legible font and font size.
  • Avoid using too many colors or graphics, as this can make your signature look unprofessional.
  • Include all necessary contact information, such as your name, position/title, company/organization, phone number, and email address.
  • You can also include your website and links to your professional social media profiles, but only if they are relevant to your work and are appropriate for a professional setting.
  • It’s also a good idea to include a short disclaimer or confidentiality notice if necessary.

11. Closing: Sign off with a polite and professional closing.

When it comes to closing an email, it’s important to strike the right tone. 

You want to be polite and professional, but also leave a lasting impression on the recipient. 

One of the most common ways to close an email is with “Sincerely” or “Best regards.” 

These phrases are simple yet effective in conveying your professionalism and respect for the recipient.

Another option is to use a more personalized closing that aligns with your relationship with the recipient. 

For example, if you have a long-standing business relationship or friendship, you could use “Warmly” or “Take care.” 

These closings add a touch of warmth and familiarity while still maintaining a professional tone.

Regardless of which closing you choose, always make sure to include your name and any necessary contact information such as phone number or website. 

This makes it easy for the recipient to contact you if needed. 

With these best practices in mind, you can confidently sign off on your emails knowing that you’re leaving a positive impression on your recipients. 

Related: Top 8 Email Marketing Tools in South Africa

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