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Writing formal emails (in English and Bahasa Melayu)

These days, I tend to receive e-mails from students that are written improperly .

Disclaimer: this not an email that follows certain protocol but a just generic email that one can use in a normal situation. 

Unlike casual e-mails to friends and families, e-mails to other individuals must be written formally, even/especially if it is addressed to a stranger.

The following are the minimal requirements, in my opinion, for a formal e-mail:

Always include a subject. Remember, this is a brief title. You do not write your full message in here.

For example:
Request for Support Letter
I would like to request for a support letter for job application with XXX Sdn Bhd.

Have a greeting: 
e.g. Dear Mr. Gandalf, Good day Ms Jane,
contoh: Selamat sejahtera Prof/Dr/Tuan/Puan/Cik

If it is your first time emailing them, introduce yourself.

Include your message.
Write your intention of sending this email and what you want.  I have encountered emails without any proper messages. Some just say their name and matric. card number (wrong!). Some only wrote a greeting and an ending without saying what they want to do (wrong!).  Please remember, the title/subject is NOT enough.

The greeting, message and signature should be separated, not written in the same paragraph.

Also do not use short forms like “u” instead of “you”..

Do not use shorthand e.g. “don’t”, “weren’t”, “didn’t”.. Instead, use “do not”, “were not” and “did not”.

Use capital letter for “i” (when referring to yourself).

Do not use CAPS or multiples of !! or ??.  These typically indicates that one is shouting.

Similarly, when writting in Malay language,  do not use shortform: “perkataan2, jgn, utk, mkn, …”

Do not mix the languages (if use malay, all malay.. if english, all english).

Do not use emoticons in formal e-mails.

But e-mails to me, I can give two exceptions: mixed language and emoticons are acceptable.

End with a signature

Regards / Yours sincerely / Best Regards


All the best!

Thinking of writing a resume?  Click here for some tips.

And here are more email writing tips:

Example of a student submitting assignment

SUBJECT: Submission of SSCP4333 assignment  (this is not written in the body of the email, but in the subject)

Dear  xxxx

I am Yap Yung Szen, a student enrolled in your DSP course at the moment.
As per your request, I am resubmitting my assignment you along with several datasheets.
Please see the attached documents and if there is any problems, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail or whatsapp.

Thank you again.


Y.S. Yap
0xx-xxx xxxx

Contoh emel untuk kegunaan rasmi

SUBJECT: KELULUSAN UNTUK MENGHADIRI KURSUS XXXXX (Tajuk emel tidak ditulis di kandungan emel tetapi di bahagian

Selamat sejahtera En xxxxx,

Terima kasih atas emel Tuan/Puan/Cik/saudara/saudari. Saya ambil maklum tentang perkara tersebut.
Untuk makluman Tuan/Puan, kami tiada halangan untuk menyokong permohonan Tuan/Puan.

Sekian, terima kasih.

Y.S. Yap
0xx-xxx xxxx