An e-mail is short for electronic mail, it is very similar to a letter but you don’t need a paper and pen to write an e-mail. E-mailing is very common nowadays as it allows people to send messages quickly to others electronically via the internet, this is a very convenient way to communicate with others.
With an e-mail account, you can send e-mails to people all over the world, as long as they have an e-mail address. An e-mail could be an update to a friend who lives abroad or a short note from a professor to one of his/her students or a request from one colleague to another, for example.
E-mails tend to be short and to the point but this can vary depending on the recipient and the type of message being sent. Likewise, the formality of an e-mail can vary, for example, business e-mails tend to be a lot more formal compared to e-mails between friends and family.
There is no strict format when writing an e-mail but you should start off the e-mail by addressing the person you are writing to. For example:
- If you are writing an e-mail to a family friend you could start the e-mail with “Hi Ann,” or “Hello Dad,”
- If you are writing a business e-mail or a more formal e-mail you may decide to begin the e-mail with “Dear Mr/Mrs Murphy” or “To whom it may concern,”
From here you can then move onto the main body of the e-mail, this usually includes the reason for writing, updates on a certain issue or a request. The main body can vary from short messages of two to three lines or a longer message of two or more paragraphs, it really depends on who you are writing to and on the purpose of the email.
Once you have said all you want to say, you can end the email with one of the expressions below:
- Yours sincerely, (Formal)
- Regards, (Formal)
- Kind/best regards, (Semi-formal)
- Thank you, (Semi-formal)
- Bye, (Informal)
- Love, (Informal, very personal)
The great thing about sending e-mails is that you can also send attachments with the e-mail. You can send documents, photos, and other files such as reports.
So, how does a report differ from an e-mail?
First of all, an e-mail is a written message whereas a report can be a written or a spoken account of a certain issue, observation, discovery, and so on. Usually, written reports are more formal compared to spoken reports.
The main function of any report is to relay certain information or a series of events, sometimes providing solutions or arguments, along with a conclusion.
A report discusses in detail a certain topic, a teacher could write a school report discussing a student’s behavioral issues in class. Or an employee could write an annual report outlining the progress the department has made throughout the year. Or a detective could give a quick verbal report to his/her Captain on the progress of an ongoing case.
Written reports are very useful for businesses as they analyze and define a problem in a clear and concise way. Therefore, when writing a report you should make sure it is well structured, well organized and systematic.
Written reports tend to follow the same general format but there is no set layout that one must follow when writing a report. This general format includes certain sections and subsections. Below I have listed important or useful sections often seen in written reports.
- Introduction – this should discuss the purpose of the report and what you will discuss in the main part of the report.
- Main body – this is where you have the opportunity to discuss the topic, highlight any observations made, backup possible arguments, provide recommendations, or a possible solution. Subsections are often used in this section of the report, as it helps the writer keep the report organized and it helps the reader follow the report.
- Recommendations – you can go into detail here on a possible solution to the problem.
- Conclusion – here you can bring all your observations, findings, arguments, and so on together.
- Summary – these sections allow you to sum up the points made in the main body along with the conclusion and recommendation.
As you can see from the possible sections in a written report, reports tend to go into a lot more detail compared to an e-mail. A report usually provides a lot of information on a certain topic to provide the reader with all the necessary aspects of the topic.
Whereas, e-mails tend to be a lot more straight forward and wouldn’t usually go into detail on a specific topic. Many companies would use e-mails to send a report but this would be an attachment in the e-mail.
More for you:
19 Email Templates for Business Communication
Formal and Informal Email Phrases Starting with Greetings
7 Simple Examples of Business Email Writing in English
Useful English Phrases For Running A Business Meeting
I’m still confused with “due to” and “because of”