Types of External Emails

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify various types of external emails

Some of the most common types of external emails in business communication are requests, direct claims, complaints and adjustments. Business letters could be used for any or all of these categories, but email is usually the preferred method of conveying these messages.


Request messages should have direct subject lines: for example, “Available for Conference January 5?” Provide details of the request in the body of the message, “Would you please get back to us on your availability to speak at our conference January 5? We have your talk featured to be given in the large conference room at the beginning of the conference at 9:00 a.m.” Close your message with a call to action and an appreciation, “Your presentation was the hit of the conference last year, and everyone is looking forward to your participation again. Please respond to us by December 9 so that we can finalize the invitations.”

Here is an example of an external request message:

ABC Software

To: Mike Scott

CC: Western Sales Team

Subject: Exclusive Event: Executive Summit On Business Agility

Dear Mike,

Senior leaders like you know that delivering faster is critical to adapt to rapidly shifting customer expectations, competitive shifts, and regulatory changes. If you’re facing these challenges, then most likely, so are your peers.

We thought you’d be interested in attending ABCs upcoming “Executive Summit on Business Agility” on June 15, where senior executives can engage with peers and co-create fresh ideas to solve their toughest business challenges.

  • Have meaningful, face-to-face interactions with other F500 senior leaders.
  • Learn directly from executives who are tackling similar blockers.
  • Participate in facilitated, expert-led discussions on how to architect your whole business system for speed, steering, and opportunity.

Please include this invitation code ES25V on the Request to Attend form. As an additional benefit of participating in the Executive Summit, enjoy a complimentary pass to the ABC-ON!™ business agility conference, June 15–17—in Phoenix, Arizona at the AAA 4-Diamond JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort where we will have Josh Jones, Dan Atware, and Jalissa O’Neill, as our distinguished keynote speakers.

To create a valuable exchange of ideas, this event is limited to 50 attendees. The event is filling up fast, so please respond within the next few days.

Best regards,

Dan Smith

Senior VP/ Sales

ABC Software


For a claim message, it is also best to state the major point as soon as possible. Use the subject line to express your reason for sending the message. For example, “Return Label for Order #123456.” Then in the body of the message, immediately provide the details or justification for your request, “Please send a return label as soon as possible for my order #123456. The order, which I placed with your company on March 2, was for jeans with a 32′ inseam and I received a 36′ inseam instead.” For the closing, give an appreciation and re-state the desired action, “I will look forward to receiving the return label in the next few business days. Thank you for your quick response.”


Complaint messages are similar to request and claim messages. Get to the point right away in the subject line, justify and explain in the body of the message, and end with a clear description of your desired outcome.

October 15, 2017

To: General Manager Best Eastern Hotels

From: Sheila Eastman

Subject: Erroneous Charge on My Stay October 4

Dear Mr. Smith,

Upon receipt of my hotel bill from my stay on October 4, I noticed I had been mistakenly charged for a room service meal. I did not have room service during my brief stay and would expect an immediate credit in the amount of $64.73 to my credit card account.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Best regards,

Sheila Eastman


An adjustment message should begin with an immediate reference to the prior correspondence. As with all of the email messages we have discussed in this section, the main point should be stated right away. Also, the body of the message should provide details regarding how the request is being handled. Closing should be a positive statement referring to the good news of the adjustment.

October 16, 2017

To: Sheila Eastmen

From: Brian Smith

Subject: Your Credit for the error on your October 4 bill

Dear Ms. Eastmen,

Thank you for your message of October 15 requesting a credit for a mistaken charge to your bill. After a quick review, you are quite correct about the error in your bill. A credit of $64.73 has been issued to your credit card company and should be reflected in your next statement.

On behalf of Best Eastern Hotels, we sincerely apologize and hope that our prompt response to your request restores your faith in our company.


Brian Smith

General Manager

Best Eastern Hotels

Practice Question