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Writing an Email: Part 2 of 4 – Tone

Category: Business English Skills | 2018-07-05

Writing emails, and lots of them, is a daily part of business life. Our modern world has become so digital, that emails are a frequent and necessary part of daily communication. So it’s important to know how to write one effectively. Even native speakers of English sometimes need a hand with writing business emails. And that’s what this series is here for!

Last week, we focused on how to address a business email and write a proper greeting. This week, we’ll be focusing on tone.

Tone is an often-overlooked part of communication via the internet, but it’s way more important than you might think. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to communicate something, and the tone came across wrong. Using the wrong tone in an email (or even a text) can easily derail a potentially successful business interaction. So it’s just as important as the actual content of the email.

Here’s how to avoid misunderstandings in an email due to tone:

Writing Business Emails: Tone

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1. Avoid Sarcasm

I love sarcasm as much as the next person. I use it frequently in daily life. However, I avoid using it in professional situations, especially writing business emails, because it can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

I’ve had this happen a few times: I know someone pretty well, and in a joking way, say something sarcastic in an email to them. But, unfortunately, instead of what I wrote sounding jokingly sarcastic, it just sounded mean because they were reading my words instead of being able to hear the tone of my voice. Since then, I’ve avoided using sarcasm in any written situation, whether it be on Facebook, texts, or emails.

My best advice to you is to avoid using sarcasm entirely when you’re writing. Especially in business situations, you don’t want to risk hurting someone’s feelings or coming across as a bully. Save the sarcasm for in-person meetings with someone you know well.


I knew an older gentleman once, who no matter whether he was texting you, writing on Facebook, or writing an email, ALWAYS WROTE LIKE THIS. HELLO, ERIN! I HOPE YOU’RE DOING WELL.

No matter what he said online, in my head it always seemed like he was yelling. Not the best thing to read first thing in the morning, huh?

I’ve heard some people say that they use all caps in emails and other communication to indicate emphasis. While this is an option, to me, it always comes across as either rude or that they’re yelling certain words in the sentence.

When I want to emphasize something in a sentence, I write it either like *this* or like this. That way, I feel like I can properly emphasize what I mean, without yelling at the person on the receiving end.

3. Stay Professional

This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes even the no-brainers bear repeating.

The key to having a good tone when writing business emails is to use a professional tone. If you’re sending a professional email, maintain the same tone that you would use when speaking to a superior or around the office. If your office is more relaxed, and you’re sending an inter-office email, feel free to keep that relaxed tone.






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Putting it all Together

So, remember, when you are writing business emails: Keep it simple, keep it professional, and you’ll have a great tone to your email.

Do you have any questions about how to strike the right tone in a business email? Drop us a line in the comments, and we’ll help you out!

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