7 Top Tips – Send good English e-mails at work

kostenloses Business Englisch

Today, it is so important to be able to send good English e-mails which have been written with some thought when you are at work.

Why? When using your phone to access your e-mail, you might find yourself caught up in a moment at work. You are in a meeting or at lunch and without thinking you click “reply,” type up a quick response and send.

Then all sorts of things happen and you end up in a chain of 5 people on cc and wondering what is happening! This is why we offer these 10 tips to help you send good English e-mails at work.

1. Should it be handled in-person

As you move up from being a Team Leader to Manager or working with budgets, there are always stories in a company which are shared by the Nespresso coffee machine about “did you hear about?” 

These topics sometimes stray into the “for your information” or f.y.i. space of e-mail. Ask yourself is the e-mail a public one to be shared, or stored and addressed at a review or private conversation moment with the person who is the subject or sender.

The topic being discussed is something you’d write on company letterhead or post on a bulletin board for all to see before clicking “send.” –Judith Kallos,
author of “E-Mail Etiquette Made Easy”, “E-Mail: The Manual”, and “E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide”.

2. Don’t have red mist or get “e-mail angry” with anyone

Let us ignore the current Twitter star of rants, e-mailing with bad news, making a decision to cut a supplier, to stop working for an employer despite the fact you will be paid your notice period and more may seem a good idea at the time. 

E-mail is dangerous because one moment the exchange is informal. Next, it is used as evidence to resolve conflict or to impact a project resource budget request. 

A small side comment has caught many a person because you must remember that e-mail correspondence lasts for a long time. 

Legally, companies are required to retain information in some circumstances for 7 to 10 years!

3. E-mails are not messaging

Companies are using more and more messaging platforms, this short answer or SMS style is now applied by many to e-mail. 

The problem, a 1 or 6-word response may not actually advance the conversation or requested decision very far. In informational situations, add “Information only” or “No Reply Necessary” at the top of the e-mail or in the subject line, if low priority or if you do not want a response. 

When you send a short e-mail in English with “thanks” or “will do” as a message, when there may be more than one person involved who may not be as proficient as you in your use of English, confusion can arise.

4. Always include a signature if it is important

The topic is urgent, the email has “sent by Samsung” or similar on it and there is no contact information. 

Why should someone have to look up how to get in touch with you? Have you not been frustrated as the receiver of an e-mail who had to check through past e-mails to find a contact number? 

This is why on important e-mails adding the best contact number to get you and a note of your time-zone if travelling will speed up the process.

5. Call or warn in advance when you need to send large attachments

There are other ways to send large volumes of data, not by e-mail. Many company e-mail inboxes have a capacity limit. 

It could be as low as 100Mb and if the person owning it keeps everything, your 10Mb report and graphic file, badly formatted CV or similar could bounce or simply not arrive for a long time. 

That is because a low priority has been set internally for large file management on the company e-mail servers. Tools for sending large files include Dropbox, filemail and others.

6. Manage those attachments

“I did not get the information” because the recipient did not see the extra documents which were hidden in the scroll down area if you are using Outlook. 

If you are sending attachments please try to give them a document or file name which is logical. When you send more than 3 files, state in the first line, “please find attached the xxx files / documents relating to .” 

This means that in the future, if you or they need to find the e-mail, it can be found with a simple sent/inbox general search of subject and content. This is especially important for HR or Finance where in the case of HR the resume, interview notes, references and other information may be shared.

7. Your e-mail is about you and people who receive them do judge, so consider using the phone instead

Every e-mail you send is looked at by others, a manager may think “oh dear” their English is getting worse, or we have a training need because it is not on topic, contains mistakes or a mix of German or French and English words. 

This is not your fault or the fault of a colleague, it is simply reflects the need of a skills or use of English language course. That is why we say sometimes instead of e-mailing someone, pick up the phone instead. 

There have been many students who have spoken with good use of English and clarity of thought on important topics who would not have been able to do the same in an e-mail.

We do have more e-mail tips to share on e-mails and other business English topics. If you are interested, please sign up for our newsletter or contact us for an e-mail writing and use of English in-company course.

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Tips to write a good cover letter and an example for your next job application

Free tips for job seekers

You see the advertisement and you instantly think – the job description is you!

You apply and the team at HR respond by saying “Thank you, but we’ve decided to choose another candidate.”

You are shocked. You think: How many people are there like me? Who has the same experience? What did I get wrong?

You may have got nothing wrong. It is just that you may not have answered the following three questions very well.

The person reading your application and covering letter did not feel really well connected to you. It happens. 

This is why when you write a cover letter for your CV / resume, you must be able to say:

1. I can do this job because:

I am “qualified” because of my education and experience. This would be the most basic level answer.

You need to remember that more than one person will read your documentation. Each person reading the job application cover letter will have their idea of what is important in the role and how you qualify.

That is why you need to be clear about your match to the advertised key requirements. Be sure to expand on a few points so you do not sell yourself short.

2. I have interpersonal skills and do not create conflict in the team because:

When you get your interview, you need to come across to those looking to hire you in a positive light.

You can be yourself – shy or outgoing and conversational. Make eye contact and behave as you described yourself – not as someone who cannot be employed because they are a little bit weird.

Make sure your cover letter and any e-mails to HR or during the interview process show that you are good-natured and stable, not a grouch someone regrets employing after a month.

3. I can fit into the company culture because:

This is difficult to guess so research first on websites like Glassdoor and others, some people even telephone the company and pretend to have a customer service question or for other reasons.

It then helps you to know a little more about the company and how to suggest you may be a good culture fit. Not just for the company,but for you as well.

This is important because you want to be thinking of a career move, not just a short term job placement and be looking for another job again soon.

Having to answer points 1, 2 and 3 is not easy, especially if you need to do this in English.

It does take time. The Boston School has helped many seeking last-minute help over the years and we have been happy to celebrate with them after getting the job interview and later the job itself.

So ,if you might need some support, why not contact us?

Free sample cover letter for telecom job

Your choice of words and how you sell or position yourself is important.

We both want to make sure that any hiring team looks at your  resume and cover letter and thinks yes to points 1,2 and 3. I must interview this person!

Then at interview, it is up to you. The well-written cover letter and your resume / CV did its job.

It got you through the door and to the next stage of the hiring process.

Sales out of office email holiday message in English


It is important that Sales and others in customer facing roles consider their use of an out of office reply as a sales or communication tool.

We covered in another post the common mistakes and how to avoid them by writing a good out of office email reply (originally written in 2008 and updated in 2017).

In case you do not want to read the post, they include:

  • Date Confusion – I will be out of the office starting 09/08/2017 and will not return until 23/08/2017 – ask yourself about the date and are you an American or not?
  • Mixing Language – Thank you for your message. Sorry I’m not in the Office until 20th of Mai and I have no access to my Emails.

Usually we suggest a simple and correct form:

Acceptable out of office email example

Thank you for your e-mail.

I am out of the office till Thursday, 27th of April 2017 and your email will not be forwarded.

Should the matter be important, please contact XXXX XXX ( email address) in my absence.

Best regards

Your Name

So how can sales use this simple email reply to their best advantage?

In another example we could use the following:

Dear Mail Sender,

Thank you for your mail. I will be out of office from today and will be back on Thursday, May 27th. I will have limited access to my e-mail during this period.

In my absence, please feel free to contact XX XX on +41 44 319 3338 or e-mail XXX@thebostonschool.com.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

Your Name

PS In my absence I thought you may be interested in learning about our new product x / company video on xxx . I would be keen to know your thoughts after I get back

Signature block with links to Linkedin or Xing Company Page, other Social media

Do you see what you have just done? 

As an English School not all our learning is from books and for someone in sales, the door is now open to speak to someone specifically about a product or service.

All whilst they were on holiday

For more insight and clever use of English, please do not hesitate to follow The Boston School on Facebook or Linkedin or contact us to discuss your training needs in English.

English delivered to your inbox leaving you to enjoy your holiday!

The American Rostigraben

I have had the good fortune of living in both the Swiss French and Swiss German areas of Switzerland. It has afforded me great insight into Swiss culture. 

Moving from one to the other was not so easy.  In fact, many often warned me of the infamousRöstigraben” of Switzerland. 

Yes , you know, that make-believe border between the French and German cantons.

There are no customs officers to slow you down or to check your passport. 

Yet you know surely that some invisible border exists and has been passed.

It is familiarly referred to as the “Röstigraben”. 

To the north, live those who love to eat rösti (a close cousin of hash browns) and speak Swiss German. 

To the south, there are the French speakers of Switzerland who probably also like to eat rösti, but that’s really not the point – they are just different.

This “Röstigrabe” (as pronounced in Swiss German dialect) invisibly divides the country into two different language areas and perhaps more importantly, two different cultures and political stances.

Well, it was that exact reference I had in mind when my husband, Andrew, and I decided to spend our vacation time in the state of North Carolina.

When traveling on the Interstate Highway, I-95, which runs all along the eastern coastline: from Maine to Florida, we were in the search of “South of the Border” signs.

I have an emotional attachment to these South of the Border signs, as they represent for me the amazing road trip my family took way back in 1972 when with only a camping trailer and vehicle, our family of 7: 2 parents plus 5 children, ages 2 months to 12 years old, traveled from Massachusetts down to Florida, stopping at interesting American historical sites along the way.

Signs for “South of the Border” were indicated for hundreds of miles before the actual “border” appeared. 

For kids, it was a real treat and a fun way to be amused and entertained. Each sign was a bit special but always large and bold with a happy looking man wearing a large Mexican hat exclaiming how far it was until we would reach The South of the Border. (See photo.)  How simple life was!

When our family did finally arrive, it was monumentally disappointing

It was marked only by a touristy shop selling fireworks and souvenirs.

Not at all what we had expected or hoped for.  But nonetheless, all these signs seemed to mark an important fact.

Once we passed them, we were “somewhere else”.  Somewhere perhaps foreign and unknown but somehow still in the United States.

And, I dare to say, this is the same exact feeling you can have when traveling in Switzerland.

Take a train from Zurich to Geneva and you’ll see what I mean.  After just about 1 ½ hours, you will begin to hear your fellow passengers speak French instead of Swiss German.

The train is the same, you’re the same, but the people are not.

It is then you know you have passed the “Röstigraben”.

So when revisiting the Carolinas for the first time in many, many years, I started to see and hear things in a new light.

In fact, the South of the Border for me now has been unofficially renamed “the American Röstigraben”.

To the North: cold winters, lots of snow, beautiful autumn leaves and accents that are familiar and easy to understand and many Democrats.

To the South –  a haven of warm weather, friendly people, speaking with a southern drawl and who like to eat food that Northerners rarely touch: collard greens, grits, sweet tea, to mention only a few. And yes, many Republicans.

And unfortunately both sides have incredibly nasty names and stereotypes for each other, too, such as the uneducated, gun toting “rednecks” to describe those from the South.

And the snobby, arrogant, rude, brash, always in a hurry, money grabbing “Yankees” for those from the North.

Hmmm….Wouldn’t you say all that name calling is asking for trouble?

During our travels, we were lucky to have stumbled upon a significant historical site in Durham, North Carolina.   Its presence is simple and incredibly understated. Yet this made it all the more genuine.  (See photo and description below.)

Photo: Unity Monument erected in Durham, North Carolina in honor of a treaty and friendship which was formed at this location. 

In 1865, General Johnston surrendered his Confederate troops to the North’s General Sherman. They used a humble family home to conduct their negotiations, which still can be seen in the background of the photo.

General Sherman showed much respect for General Johnston and wished to make the surrender as dignified as possible for him. 

Although the first draft, which was signed by both men, was rejected by the new President Andrew Johnson, a final agreement that led to the ending of the American Civil War was signed by both Generals.

They became lifelong friends.  And the United States remained united.

So in ending, whenever a Northerner from the States asks me about going Down South to North Carolina in a doubtful tone of voice, I smile and say – yes – you should go.  It’s beautiful there!

Writing and photos by: Rose Nassif Travers

Interested in reading more about cultural differences in English?