- Identify common types of internal emails
- Identify key features of the structure and format of internal emails
- Write an internal email
Common Types of Internal Emails
In the past, the standard workhorse for inter and intra-office communication was the memorandum or memo. According to Merriam-Webster, a memo is “a usually brief written message or report from one person or department in a company or organization to another.” For all intents and purposes, the email has become the memorandum of modern business. Internal business emails can be used to communicate almost any and all types of information.
An internal email can be created in the form of a newsletter, event notification, company policy change, announcement, meeting request, status update, appreciation, etc. In other words, email can be used for any number of purposes. This is perhaps the reason that many employees today feel inundated with the daily barrage of email.
Here is an example of a very simple message informing of an agenda change for an upcoming meeting:
From: John Jaurès [email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2017 10:13 AM
To: Team Members
Subject: Changes to Agenda
- New software installation
- Changes to protocol
- Email monitoring policy
Here is an example of an internal newsletter email:
Here is an example of an internal email memo:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2017 2:06 PM
To: Eddie Bangston
Subject: Team Cloud Employee Benefits
WELCOME TO TeamCloud!
Team Cloud is committed to providing our employees with the highest quality of benefits at an affordable price.
In our efforts to make your orientation a pleasant one, we have implemented a web based employee self-service system to assist you in completing the new hire process, including benefits enrollment.
A personalized account has been created for you. To login, please visit
www.mybenefits.com and login using the User ID and Password provided at the end of this email.
Before logging in, please be sure to disable any Pop-Up Blockers or adjust your settings to allow pop-ups from mybenefits.com. Also, it is helpful you have all your dependents’ social security numbers, birthdates, etc.
Please log in as soon as possible. This system is designed to provide you with information regarding our benefit programs to make the enrollment process more efficient. If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Once again, welcome to TeamCloud!
Human Resources Generalist
User ID: ebangston
The Structure and Format of Internal Emails
There are six primary features of an internal business email:
- Subject line
Email Subject Line
The subject line is one of the most important features of any business email message. It should quickly and concisely summarize the contents of the email in such a way as to make the recipient want to open the message (remember an inbox is a sea of subject lines- make yours stand out). Try to use verbs in the subject line wherever possible to get maximum attention: “Attend Friday’s call—Important,” “Respond to this customer ASAP,” “Your initiation is about to expire—Please get back to us!” There’s not always a viable verb, especially if your email covers multiple topics (“Changes in Management and New Produce Line”); however, you should still be concise: no one wants a full email in the subject line.
The greeting is really just a matter of good etiquette. Your goal is to sound professional yet friendly. If the recipient is a teammate or colleague, a less-formal, friendly greeting is appropriate: “Hi John”; “Good Morning Ben.” If your audience is outside your department, in a different location, etc. you would be more formal, “Dear Cathy.”
You might need an opening paragraph if the message is a long one with many details. Make sure you make it clear to the recipients why they are receiving this email. Think of an executive summary where you are condensing down to the gist of the message without all of the details. This is especially helpful for messages to senior management, who may not be interested in all of the finer points.
Body of the Message
The body of your message should be concise and to the point. As with any writing, always keep your audience in mind. It is common for people not to read all the way through long emails or only read with half of their attention. Ask yourself whether you are conveying your message in a way that will be best understood and minimize misinterpretation. Are there plentiful facts, background information, or documentation that must be included? Since emails are generally short, you must decide what information should be included to write a complete and accurate message and what information would be best suited as an attachment.
As you write the body of your message, you might notice how challenging it is to include as much information as possible while also trying to keep the email short. Are you writing in long, compound sentences? Take note of your sentence structure and make sure each sentence has one clear idea or connected ideas to make the sentences more digestible. To summarize information, you can also use bullet points in your message to keep it brief but thorough.
The close of your message should include a call to action with specific desired outcomes and dates. Ask yourself why you wrote this message in the first place. Why is this message important and what do you want the reader to do? By when? For example you may want a response from the recipient such as “Please confer with Jane and respond to the team no later than June 2nd.”
Your signature should contain full contact information including your name, title, address, voice number, and email address. Remember, this message is not a personal note, it is from the organization.
We are going to see a host of email examples in the next sections.
Writing an Internal Email
Think about your message before you write it. Don’t send emails in haste. First, decide on the purpose of your email and what outcome you expect from your communication. Then think about your message’s audience and what they may need in order for your message to have the intended result. You will also improve the clarity of your message if you organize your thoughts before you start writing. Jot down some notes about what information you need to convey, what questions you have, etc., then organize your thoughts in a logical sequence. You can try brainstorming techniques like mapping, listing, or outlining to help you organize your thoughts.
Reflect on the tone of your message. When you are communicating via email, your words are not supported by gestures, voice inflections, or other cues. This makes it easier for someone to misread your tone. For example, sarcasm and jokes are often misinterpreted in emails and may offend your audience. Similarly, be careful about how you address your reader. For instance, beginning an email to your manager with “Hey!” might be perceived as being rude or presumptuous (as in, “Hey you!”). If you’re unsure about how your email might be received, you might try reading it out loud to a colleague to test its tone.
Strive for clarity and brevity in your writing. Have you ever sent an email that caused confusion and took at least one more communication to straighten out? Miscommunication can occur if an email is unclear, disorganized, or just too long and complex for readers to follow easily. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your message is understood:
- Briefly state your purpose for writing the email in the very beginning of your message.
- Be sure to provide the reader with a context for your message. If you’re asking a question, cut and paste any relevant text (for example, computer error messages, assignment prompts you don’t understand, part of a previous email message, etc.) into the email so that the reader has some frame of reference for your question. When replying to someone else’s email, it can often be helpful to either include or restate the sender’s message.
- Use paragraphs to separate thoughts (or consider writing separate emails if you have many unrelated points or questions).
- Finally, state the desired outcome at the end of your message. If you’re requesting a response, let the reader know what type of response you require (for example, an email reply, possible times for a meeting, a recommendation letter, etc.) If you’re requesting something that has a due date, be sure to highlight that due date in a prominent position in your email. Ending your email with the next step can be really useful, especially in work settings. For example, you might write “I will follow this e-mail up with a phone call to you in the next day or so” or “Let’s plan to further discuss this at the meeting on Wednesday.”
Format your message so that it is easy to read. Use white space to visually separate paragraphs into separate blocks of text. Bullet important details so that they are easy to pick out. Use bold face type or capital letters to highlight critical information, such as due dates.
A few notes of caution: do not type your entire message in capital letters or boldface—your reader may perceive this as “shouting” and won’t be able to tell which parts of the message are especially important. Also, avoid using color to emphasize important information.
Proofread. Re-read messages before you send them. Use proper grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. If your email program supports it, use spelling and grammar checkers. Try reading your message out loud to help you catch any grammar mistakes or awkward phrasing that you might otherwise miss.
Here is the same message using some of the simple tips we suggest:
To: Western Team
From: Jane Doe
Subject: Materials Needed for Wednesday Staff Meeting
For tomorrow’s 3 p.m. staff meeting in the conference room, please bring 5 copies of the following materials:
- Your project calendar
- A one-page report describing your progress so far
- A list of goals for the next month
- Copies of any progress report messages you have sent to clients this past month
See you tomorrow—
You can find more writing tips visit this guide to effective email communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Here is a video that covers the basics of writing an email quite nicely.