How to write an email

Here are minimal guidelines to use in a first approach to another professional in the apparel industry (if you have already established a cordial relationship, you can omit certain things like a full salutation etc.). Following these guidelines will not guarantee a response but you’ll stand out from most people (and many students) who don’t provide sufficient introductory information or even -tragically- extend basic social courtesy. In this way, your messages are less likely to be deleted at first glance.

There should be six parts to your email.

  1. A good subject line
  2. Greeting
  3. Introduction
  4. Topic
  5. Closure
  6. Contact Information

Subject line:  Drill your topic down to one short sentence.

(Greeting) Hi/Hello/Greetings/Dear _________ ,

[add a carriage return or two, a solid block of text is hard to read]

(Introduction) My name is __________ . I’m writing you after finding your site/blog/speaking with ________ (person who referred you). My product (or reason for writing) is _________ (provide sufficient context by describing your product type, market and prices points if applicable).

[add a carriage return or two, a solid block of text is hard to read]

(Topic) I am writing to ask _____________________ (elaborate as needed but be as brief as possible).

[add a carriage return or two, a solid block of text is hard to read]

(Closure) Thank you/best regards/regards/cheers/sincerely
_______ (your first name, last if you like)

[add a carriage return or two, a solid block of text is hard to read]

(Contact Information)
Company name (if applicable)
Your first & last name
Your mailing address if appropriate, city/state otherwise
Phone number
Website if not obvious

What you should not do:

Here are samples of lousy subject lines: “Help!!!”, “Desperate”, “Searching”, “Inquiry”, and “Question” because these are almost guaranteed to be deleted.  Instead, state the specific topic of your email in the subject line. The subject line should pique the recipient’s interest.

It is rude to ask someone for help and fail to address them by name unless you cannot know (check their about page). If you found them under their pseudonym, mention that. Anything else leaves an impression of entitlement.

Emails written in text-messagese are not appropriate for business. As Zoe said, buy a vowel -and a clue. Similarly as Zoe mentioned, don’t be offended if the response amounts to a link. Read it as your question has been dealt with before. If necessary, then reply to explain why your situation is different.

Every business has a preferred method of contact and unfortunately, you can’t know what it is. In my business, I prefer phone calls for basic questions, it takes less of my time than writing. If you think you’ll need links, email is better. Many garmentos only check email once a day -if that.

Leave white space. We need a place to rest our eyes. It is difficult to read solid blocks of text.

If you leave a phone number from your day job and discretion is required, please say so. No professional will deliberately cause you ill.

Unless otherwise stated or implied in your message, a professional will assume your email is confidential even if there is no previous relationship. If it is not obvious, please mention whether one can forward your email to another professional who is more apt to help you.

Referrals are often (if not usually) location dependent. Please do not forget to mention where you reside and or where you need services.

Be succinct. It is best to limit your query to a point or two. If circumstances force otherwise, read 5 questions every designer must answer. Actually, read that too.

If you don’t trust the person you’re writing and omit your name, location and phone number, it is probably best to find someone you can trust because you shouldn’t waste your time and theirs by asking for their advice.

Did I miss anything? Probably. In that case, read this more comprehensive entry on how to write emails.

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