Business Email Ethics: Basic Rules


A letter of cooperation is a written document in which one company offers another joint work on a mutually beneficial basis. The main purpose of the proposal is to interest a potential partner, to encourage him to take further actions towards the sender. Such letters often serve as a starting point for the conclusion of agreements, deals and long-term contracts.

Who composes the collaboration letter

A letter of cooperation can be written by an employee of a company whose competence includes business development in one direction or another. The text of the letter must be agreed with the superior or the head of the company.

Whose name to write

The letter can be written to the name of the director of the organization, in cooperation with which the sender of the message is interested. Also, as a specific addressee, the deputy head for one direction or another, the head of a structural unit, or a narrow-profile specialist can act. In any case, the final decision on cooperation is made at the level of the company's management.

General rules for writing a proposal

First of all, you need to remember that a letter is a kind of "hook", the main task of which is to "hook" a partner/customer/client. Therefore, it should be interesting, meaningful, literate. Ideal if, after reading the letter, the addressee makes a request for a commercial offer or price list with a list of goods and services.

Despite the fact that the letter refers to the official document flow and is part of official business correspondence, there is no standard, unified form for such a message. A letter of cooperation is drawn up in a free form or according to a template developed within the company, based on the tasks, needs and capabilities of the company. When compiling it, it is recommended to follow some simple rules of office work, business ethics and the Russian language.

At the beginning of the letter, it is advisable to address a specific person using the epithet "respected" ("Dear Vladimir Ivanovich!", "Dear Bella Viktorovna!", etc.).

Of course, for this you need to know the name, patronymic and position of the required employee in advance. Then you can start actually writing.

It should be noted here that some experts advise to write a heading to the text, but this is not necessary, especially considering that a poorly composed heading can turn against the sender (the addressee may simply not be interested in further information). Therefore, we skip this stage.

Content of the main body of the letter of cooperation

The main part of the letter should contain the essence of the proposal. Here it is necessary to avoid vague or ornate phrases, too long and confusing sentences, special terminology. Everything should be clear, understandable and extremely laconic.

The global pandemic has shown that many professions can be transferred to a remote location. Now you can do business right from home, sitting in your favorite pajamas and soft slippers. But with the transition of business online, business etiquette of correspondence came to the fore.

Now the “cover” by which we are met has become an official business letter. It is responsible for creating first and subsequent impressions of our firm and the business in general.

Also, a business letter in English is useful for writing:

  • applications for employment;
  • notifications of changes in the contract;
  • writing certificates at the place of work/study;
  • drafting agreements and contracts;
  • conducting business negotiations in writing

These formulations seem like a complicated jungle of bureaucracy, but in reality, business correspondence is quite simple. The main thing is to learn the key principles, and in the future, writing a business letter in English will not cause you any difficulties.

Business Correspondence Basics

English is a very conservative and pedantic language. It is important for consistency and obedience to strict rules, including in business correspondence. So what are the characteristics of a business letter?

Clear structure

Unlike personal letters and messages on social networks, business letters have a strictly verified structure:

  • Header of the letter - specifying addresses and dates
  • Welcome message
  • Preamble explaining the reason for the request
  • Body of the letter with a detailed description of the reason
  • Conclusion
  • Signature

Official business clichés

Don't be afraid of tautologies and hackneyed phrases. The use of clichés and stamps in a business letter is a sign of good manners, respect for the addressee and a decent education.


CEO of Monstars Communication Agency

“Dear colleagues”, “kindly request”, “based on the results of the meeting” and similar expressions have long become a relic of clericalism and are now considered overly formal in business communication. Modern correspondence presupposes structured thoughts and verbal accessibility.

Irina Efimova, CEO of communication agency Monstars, tells how to write to a client with a new proposal, respond to rude messages and solve urgent tasks by email.

Effective written communication is one of the main lessons companies have learned from the lockdown. Correctly formulating a thought and conveying it in the form in which it is in your head is not an easy task. Let numerous Zoom meetings be much more productive, but only the mail confirms the reliability of your communication, preserving the most important information. That is why the letter must be easy to read.

But there are moments that anger any recipient - verified by years of experience in exchanging emails. Here they are:

  • Carelessness. A letter without a subject, the beginning of a sentence with a lowercase letter, spelling errors are immediately visible and can instantly piss off the addressee.
  • One letter - several thoughts. It is inconvenient when the letter contains several ideas and suggestions at once: if other colleagues who are in the copy have questions, the correspondence will quickly turn into one continuous stream of repeated questions. Therefore, it is better to immediately put the problem that will be solved in the correspondence in the subject line of the letter.
  • Letter on a day off. "How is your vacation?" - the very last thing a person wants to get during a well-deserved rest. If you have been sent such a question, then this is a sure sign that behind it lies an offer to work right now. On the employer's site - immediately and politely explain the situation why you are asking a person to work on the weekend. In the place of an employee - give an answer, and do not be afraid to refuse if you really cannot complete the task.
  • Urgent task. ASAP or "this task is a priority" immediately makes the recipient feel stressed. Even if the assignment is really urgent, don't panic. You need to calmly postpone the deadline, or offer help.
  • Familiarity. In order not to make a mistake in the name or not switch too early to "you", it is better to clarify with the employee/colleague/partner the wording of a comfortable address to him from the very beginning of the correspondence.
  • Supporting materials by the next letter. Before sending, double-check whether you have attached all the necessary files to the letter. If you send them later, attachments can get lost among the piles of other emails.


Business correspondence does not tolerate stereotypes and clericalism, therefore, it is better to forget about "good time of day" and "with the hope of an early response" and replace them with more human and simple expressions. And yet, every business letter has a special logic that differs depending on the problem being solved in the correspondence. Below are some examples of situations and tips on how to solve everything peacefully and without nervous calls.

Offer to expand cooperation

An individual approach is needed here, there are no standard templates in this case. Try to initially feel your client and answer the following questions: "What information will he need?", "How long will he make a decision?", "Does he need time to consult with colleagues?"

Once you feel the waters, move on to presenting your own idea. Try to concisely and succinctly describe what the key point of your project is. In doing so, do not use watery expressions and praising epithets. Give the main reasons why you are contacting a client, tell us what will be the uniqueness of the product.


If you are sending a letter abroad to a foreign businessman, then the letter should be written in his native or English (as international) language. There are nuances regarding the writing of such letters. Let's start with the name of your company, the address of the recipient, the date and the addressee. Since few Western people speak Russian and understand the Cyrillic alphabet, a beautiful “hat” and logo of your company will tell them absolutely nothing. And if the recipient does not understand what you are called, then it makes no sense to use the "header". But even without a "hat" is impossible. So they do it in two ways: either they have forms translated into English, or below the Russian logo and the name is given a transcript in English.

In the foreign version, it makes no sense for you to use the outgoing number of the letter familiar to a Russian person - they do not know that there (the Western world uses the date and subject of the letter).

The date of the letter is indicated according to the rules of the country to which the letter is sent. For European countries, the order of writing the date is as follows: day, month, year (for example, 29-th January 2009). For USA: month, day, year (for example, January 29, 2009).

Be sure to include an internal address (for example, Triandos Co., Inc.).

Now urgently find out if your addressee has any title, if so, the title is indicated before the surname (for example, dr. Hide). If there is no title, Mr. (mister; plural - Mgs.), before the woman's surname - Mrs. (miss, mrs, plural - Mmes).

Sometimes the name of the company is made up of the surnames of the owners, in this case special abbreviations are used - Messers for men and Mesdames (Mmes) for women (for example: Messers Hide and Jones Ass., or Mesdames Isher and Carder Ass.) ...

Often an abbreviation from the word attention is put before the surname: Attn. (Attn. Mr. Hide). The position of the addressee is indicated after his surname: Attn. Mr. Hide, Head of Department, which translated into Russian sounds like "the attention of Mr. Hyde, the head of the department (department)".

And further, if you are in correspondence with Mr. Hyde, it is indicated that this is a response to his letter, for example, dated March 13, 2009. This mark will look like this: Re .: (Regarding) your letter of March 13, 2009.

Then, as in the Russian analogue, an appeal to the addressee follows. In English, it is customary to use the adjective Dear, that is, "dear", "dear", "dear". In Russian it looks a little informal and frivolous, but in the Western tradition it is practically analogous to our "respected" one. So you can safely use Dear in various combinations: both in addressing an individual (Dear Sir, Dear Madam, Dear Mr. Hide, Dear John) and a group of people (Dear Sirs, if they are Europeans).

To make it pleasant and convenient for interlocutors in the framework of business e-mail to communicate with each other, it is important to follow generally accepted rules.

  • What are the rules of etiquette in business correspondence.
  • How to maintain subordination in business correspondence when communicating by e-mail.
  • How to make business correspondence easy and not burdensome.

Business e-mail is the standard of communication in business. Electronic dialogue complies with the rules of telephone etiquette: who initiated communication (started a correspondence) ends it.

Each email has several main blocks, let's take a look at them.

As a general rule, corporate addresses are formed as first/last name @ company_domain. For business correspondence, it is undesirable to use non-personalized addresses (info @, support @, sales @), as well as addresses with a non-obvious name.

There is the following rule of business correspondence by e-mail: if you enter into business correspondence as an individual (for example, when sending a resume), create a special email address for this, which will not contain unnecessary characters (digits of the date of birth and other things).

Always fill in a subject line that should match the content (issue under discussion). Observe the rule: one letter - one informational occasion, do not combine several diverse questions in one letter.

You should always greet the recipient of the message. Despite the fact that in modern correspondence the construction "Good day!" Is found, it is not recommended to use it; it is better to use the greeting "Hello" or "Good afternoon".

Always address the recipient by name. If you are writing a response to a letter, pay attention to how the sender indicated his full name in the signature. Most often, only the first and last name is used in the "From" field (sometimes in English), so be guided by the signature - often it uses a middle name. If in the field "From whom" is "Marina Ivanova", and in the signature - "Marina Viktorovna Ivanova", use the appeal "Marina Viktorovna".

The classic text structure involves a short introductory part, the main content of the letter and a closing, which will indicate what conclusions follow from the content or what kind of reaction you expect from the recipient.

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