An attachment usually provides you with more information on the content of an email. You may require an attachment to fulfill a request or to take further action based on the email.
If you think that the sender might not add an attachment or they’ve forgotten to include one, you’ll need to politely ask for it to be included.
Respond as soon as you notice that the attachment you need is missing. Politely point out that you did not receive the required attachment. Keep it short and write the name or a reference to the content of the required document in the subject line.
Request the Missing Document Via Email
Whether email attachments are spreadsheets, word processor documents, or other types of files, they help to create a record for both the sender and recipient.
If an attachment is necessary but one hasn’t been included, you may reply to the sender with an email, not a phone call. This should indicate that they are being asked to send the attachment that’s described.
The subject of your email should be the name of the document that you’re requesting.
For example, if you’re purchasing furniture and need photos of the furniture, your subject can be “Attach Furniture Photos”.
The body of your email should not consist of more than three sentences.
Ideally, this should be as short as possible, to avoid having the sender spend time on a lengthy reply. You simply want the attachment.
For example, the body of your email could be:
“Please send photos of the furniture as an attachment.”
“Please attach 3 photos of the furniture.”
“Kindly attach photos of the office furniture that’s for sale.”
Request a Different File Format
In most cases, you need to have software on your device that is capable of reading the file that was sent to you.
If a file was created on the sender’s computer using software that you don’t have you won’t be able to read the attachment. 
If such an attachment has been sent to you, you need to request a different file format.
Ask the sender to convert their file to a PDF document and then resend it to you.
You can reply to their initial email by saying:
“Thanks but I’m unable to read this format on my device. Please resend it as a PDF.”
“Kindly resend this attachment as a PDF.”
“Please convert this file to a PDF and resend it. Thank you.”
Indirect References to Missing Attachments
Sometimes a sender will indirectly refer to information that’s present in an attachment. However, you won’t find an attachment anywhere on the email.
In this case, you may conclude that the sender intended to attach a document but forgot to do so.
Politely indicate that a document might be missing.
They may not realize that it isn’t there and may not have otherwise indicated that an attachment should have been included.
You can say:
“You might have forgotten to attach the file in your last email.”
“You forgot to include the attachment.”
“Good day. Please include the attachment that you’re referring to. Thank you.”
Avoid Embarrassing the Individual
Sometimes you may have to request an attachment from someone who isn’t comfortable with the task and may make mistakes.
In this case, you may not want to embarrass the person by pointing out that their first attempt to send the attachment was unsuccessful.
To get the attachments that you need, you could simply say that you’re unable to open the documents from your end and ask them to send the email with the attachment again.
Hopefully, at that point, they would be able to check the email and realize that the document was not attached.
You could make your request less directly by saying:
“Thanks for sending the document I requested. However, I’m having problems viewing it on my end. Kindly send the attachment again.”
“Thanks for taking the time to send the attachment to me. Unfortunately, I’m not able to view it properly on my end. Please resend it. Thanks.”
“Thanks for sending your email with the attachment. However, I can’t find the document. Could you please resend it?”
Ask As Soon As Possible
If you notice that an attachment is missing from the email, you should request the document to be sent to you as soon as you can.
Don’t delay. Several problems can arise if you don’t have the information available to you.
All businesses need to facilitate the flow of information among teams. If the details provided in documents are not available, it can affect the productivity of different departments.
A missing attachment can also affect your ability to plan properly. Attachments may contain data that you require for decision making and if they’re not available that could reflect negatively on your team.
Promptly requesting a missing attachment helps you to ensure that you have all the available information.
Always emphasize that you’re just reading the email or have just received it. Make it clear that you’re requesting the attachment as soon as you’ve noticed that it’s missing.
You could say:
“I’ve just received your email, but I haven’t received the attachment that’s required to complete this collaborative task. Please resend it.”
“Thanks for your email. I just got it but the attachment that’s required to complete this project is missing. Kindly resend the email with the attachment.”
“The documents for the upcoming conference call are not attached. Can you resend the email with the attachments?”
Requesting A Document for Off-Site Work
You may sometimes request a document that you don’t have because you’re not on site.
If you’re away from your regular place of work and wish to refer to a document that you would normally have access to at your headquarters, you can explain the situation to the sender.
Request that they assist you by attaching the document in an email.
By doing so, they’ll make it possible for you to continue your work from any location. You can also work by using your tablet, smartphone, or any other device that’s approved for work on your company’s network.
For example, you may require a document during a sales call or while speaking to a potential client at a trade fair.
If a team member on location at your headquarters has access to the document, they can quickly email it to you, so that you can refer to the client with facts during the sales conversation.
You could say:
“I’m with a client and I need the details on the delivery routes that we have available. Kindly send an email to me with the delivery schedule attached.”
“I’m on a conference call and I need details on our wedding menu. Please email me the document as an attachment.”
“The client has asked about the features of our new product. Please email me the specifications with a copy of our promotional brochure attached.”
Requesting Additional Attachments
There may be times when you’ve received the attachment that has been sent. However, the information within the attachment may not be sufficient.
In this case, you may need to ask the sender to provide more information. It helps to be specific about what you need.
Always thank them for the information that you received previously but make it clear that additional information can help you to arrive at a more informed decision.
You could say:
“Please clarify whether these dimensions apply to your new product. An attachment that details the features of the product would be appreciated. Thank you.”
“I noticed that you’ve requested changes to the blueprint. Please indicate on a new attachment where you would like the new room to be. Thanks.”
“Thank you for the information on delivery routes that you provided in your email as an attachment. Are there different fees for each route? If so, please email an attachment with your fee schedule.”
They may have documents that help to clarify the information that’s presented in the original attachment. They may also have documents that answer questions that are raised by the attachment that was provided.
For example, as a new client, you may want to provide medical products on time. However, you may not be sure of the times when a person may be available to receive deliveries from your company.
They may email you with information on the products that they need in the form of an attachment. You may require clarification on the best delivery times during each workday.
In response to their email, you can request a formal document that shows when they will be available to receive the medical products.
Always Be Clear About the Document That’s Required
It’s important to prevent unnecessary delays when you’re requesting an attachment. To avoid confusion, mention the specific name of the document where possible.
If you aren’t sure of the type of document that you need but you think that it should be available, simply say that you don’t know for sure whether such a document exists but if it does, you would appreciate having it.
Specifically state what type of information you need, so that the sender can find a document or documents that are the best fit for your type of organization.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.