Tone of Emails: Definition and Examples

Updated February 3, 2023

The tone of an email reveals the writer's emotional state toward the reader or subject matter. When you write emails, you can use many different tones to convey your meaning and help the reader understand your message. Learning how to use the right tone in your emails can ensure you're creating and maintaining professional relationships with coworkers, managers and clients.

In this article, we explain how to identify and determine what tone you should use for your emails.

What is the tone in emails?

In emails, tone is the attitude you want to present to the recipient. Your email tone can convey many attitudes, such as professionalism, friendliness or optimism. Choosing the appropriate tone for your email ensures you send a message that reader can interpret easily, which helps you start or maintain a strong relationship.

You can choose from many types of tone when crafting your email, depending on your relationship with the recipient. When emailing close coworkers, you might use a friendly or casual tone, while an email to a client or manager might benefit from a more formal or professional tone. In some cases, you might use a mix of closely related tones to better convey your message. For example, if you're emailing your supervisor about a large sales deal you just made, your tone could be professional and enthusiastic.

Why is the tone of emails important?

Email tone is important because you can't rely on non-verbal cues or vocal tones to convey your message. Therefore, when you want to express a specific feeling, focusing on your written tone can help you transmit those emotions. Every word that you choose is important to crafting an email that is clear and understood in the way that you intended. Here are some tips to remember when sending professional emails:

  • Use words that are courteous and positive.

  • Use language that is non-judgmental and non-discriminatory.

  • Use emoticons sparingly (usually only for informal emails).

  • Write with clear and neutral language.

  • Avoid using inflammatory language.

  • Avoid writing in all caps.

  • Avoid text-speak words like "lol" or "k."

  • Be selective and minimalistic about the interjections and punctuation marks that you use.

  • Be very precise about how you start an email because it sets the tone for the entire message.

Read more: 20 Ways To Start an Email

How to use the appropriate tone in emails

As you write your email, consider these steps for appropriate email tone etiquette:

1. Determine your target audience

Your target audience is the individual or group that you're emailing. No matter if you're emailing a friend, coworker or large group of recipients, It's important to think about how close you are to them. If you are unfamiliar with someone, it may be safer to communicate with them in a professional tone. If the relationship between yourself and recipient becomes more casual, then you can consider communicating more informally.

Related: How To Respond to an Email

2. Choose the type and message of the email

After you identify who your audience is, determine the type of email you need to send and what information you want them to understand from its contents. Whether it's a professional memo or an invitation to go out to lunch, certain types of emails are better suited for specific tones. Some factors you may want to consider when choosing the type and message of your email include:

  • If you need the recipient to respond

  • In what format you want the recipient to respond, like a personal reply or reply-all email

  • What time you're sending the email

  • The recipient's time zone

  • How much information you need to include

3. Consider how the recipient could interpret the tone

Once you craft your email, it's helpful to reread it and ensure the tone is correct. Consider reading the email aloud before sending it to hear how it sounds. You could also ask an impartial person, like a coworker, to read the email and tell you how it made them feel. Getting a different perspective on the tone can help you convey your intended message. You can also ask your coworker to review the email for any spelling or grammatical errors to ensure your message is clear.

Read more: How To Address Someone in an Email

3 examples of email tone etiquette

The best way to determine what tone to use in your emails is to practice. You can write test emails based on different situations and scenarios to identify which response and tone fits best. Finding a willing friend or colleague to assist you is a great way to get started.

Here are some example emails to help you begin:

1. Replying to an email positively

"Hi Dan,

I am so sorry about the confusion. We may have mixed up the calendar and accidentally scheduled you for today instead of tomorrow. Let me know what times work best for you, and I will happily rearrange tomorrow's calendar to fit you in or reschedule your appointment with no additional charge.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding,


2. Sending quick reminder

"Hi Aisha,

I wanted to follow up with you about the assignment we discussed yesterday. Just as a reminder, Professor Lee wanted us to bring in two samples with our project tomorrow. I found my samples already, so let me know if you need any help to find yours.

Talk to you soon,


Related: How To Send an Appreciation Email To Your Team Members (With Examples)

3. Writing an encouraging email to multiple recipients

"Hi Team,

I'm glad you all could contribute to the food drive this week. Great job! Though we are only in second place right now, we still have plenty of time to compile more canned goods. What matters most is not that we are first, but that we give what we can to help children and families in need.

Thanks everyone and keep up the excellent work,


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