People around the world communicate by using email every day. Emails are used for both personal and business reasons and can even be utilized as evidence in a court of law.
The information that’s provided in an email can be used to guide business decisions or help you to make good choices that improve your own life.
When asking for information by email, explain your current level of knowledge and what additional information is needed. Thank them in advance and add a note that the mail may be forwarded to another person if needed.
Clearly State Your Reason for Writing
Emails are just like traditional letters. In a business context, your email should always have a purpose. The same applies if you’re sending a personal email to a family member, friend, or acquaintance. Stating your intentions immediately and sending your email to the right person, will make it less likely for it to be seen as spam.
If you clearly define the purpose of your email before you start writing, you’re less likely to deviate from your aim. You’ll also increase your chances of getting what you want.
State your purpose by saying:
“I’m writing to learn more about your disability program.”
“I’m writing to find out more about the intervention strategies that your team has been using in local prisons.”
“I’m writing to find out what protocols will be in place for your upcoming celebration.”
If You Want to Request Additional Information
You can use an email to request additional information if you’ve previously been in face-to-face discussions with the recipient. You may also have learned about a project, an opportunity, or some other situation in a different context and you may need further details about it.
Your email should give the recipient an idea of want you already know.
It should also introduce the context in which you learned about their company, product, or work. This allows them to have a broad idea of the type of information that you would already have, so they can fill in the gaps.
You may also be able to refer to a previous telephone conversation.
You can enhance your knowledge of what they do by saying:
“Hello. We met at the trade expo in May where we discussed your company’s capacity to produce fiber optic cables. I would like more information about the products that you now have available.”
“Good day. My family and I recently dined at your restaurant and we had a remarkable experience. I would like to know whether you can cater outdoor events in the area.”
“I am writing to request further information on your plans for expansion. The details provided in your plan that was submitted for approval to the agency aren’t sufficient.”
Write to Have Specific Questions Answered
Sometimes an email can be used to request general information to enhance your basic knowledge. However, there are times when you already have general knowledge of the topic.
An email can be used for a request that allows you to go in-depth.
Your request email should contain specific questions that you like the recipient to answer.
For example, if you’re interested in purchasing a particular type of jam, you might ask the manufacturer to provide details on the preparation technique. Your questions could be related to the preservatives that have been used, the temperature at which the jam was prepared, and the source of the glass used for bottling.
Similarly, if you’re purchasing a home, you may want details on the type of repairs that have been done through the years, the insulation material that’s been used, and other facts related to renovations. If you’re applying for a program of study, you may have detailed questions related to the courses.
In this type of email, consider requesting specific details by using questions such as:
“Will the course cover all of the painting techniques that were used during the Renaissance?”
“Is the product packaged using materials that are free of environmental toxins?”
“What’s the tensile strength of your product?”
“Which features make your product appropriate for a 5-year-old?”
“Can I take your dish directly from a fridge to a microwave oven? Can it be used safely in both appliances?”
Express Thanks in Advance
Sometimes you may feel a little uncomfortable about asking for information in an email. This may be because you don’t want to put anyone out of their way. It could also be because you’re not sure whether you’re asking for access to protected information, such as contact details.
You could express thanks even before making your request. This can help you to feel more comfortable about asking and let the other person know that you appreciate the effort they’re making to find the facts that you need.
Research has shown that gratitude can change the tone of your interactions with other people. It can help you to build better relationships and if you plan on continuing to seek information from that individual, it would certainly help to express thanks in your interactions with them.
You might say:
“I would be grateful if you could provide further details on the transportation schedule.”
“I would appreciate it if you could email the recipe for the spiced bun and the other pastries that you provided at the event.”
“I would appreciate it if you could provide the details on the method of blended learning that would be used as the children return to school.”
Express Your Interest
If a topic has caught your attention or you are excited about learning more, let it show.
Enthusiasm can be catching and it encourages the other person when you let them know that their work is appreciated and it’s having an impact.
Consider letting them know how interested you are in learning more, by saying:
“I would be interested in learning more about your approach to ensuring that each workplace is fully accessible.”
“I’m excited about the improvements that your company has a making in the transportation sector and I would like to learn more about your plans for the coming year.”
“Thanks for letting us know that we won’t be able to conduct those transactions in-branch any longer. I would be interested in receiving further details on using electronic banking instead.”
Ask the Correct Person
You’ll be more successful with asking for information in an email if your query is directed to the right person. Always try to do a little research beforehand and find out who would be most likely to be able to help you, before you send your email.
When you’re not certain that your email is directed to the correct person, it may be necessary to leave it open for the individual to direct your query elsewhere.
You could explain that you were trying to check whether emails on that topic should be sent to them. After that, explain what you need and ask whether they can assist or can direct you to the appropriate person.
You could say:
“Can you tell me what time the train for New Jersey will leave on Sundays? If not, can you direct this email to the correct person or provide me with their email address?”
“Could you provide me with information on the types of boots that you have available or is there another person who I should write to with that request?”
“Good day. Your company’s website referred me to you as the person responsible for new registrations. Could you provide me with information on the process for registering a child who is being transferred from another district?”
Request Information in the Form of Attachments
Sometimes the requested information in a business email may be better sent to you as an attachment. However, the person to who you send your email might not immediately think of that although the document may already be available in a digital format.
Request attachments by stating:
“Please provide information on the type of wood that’s used for the furniture. Please also include photos of the furniture that’s for sale.”
“Please attach a copy of the income and expense reports.”
“Kindly attach the specifications for the device that was mentioned in the advertisement.”
By explicitly requesting that information be sent to you as an attachment, you will save your own time and theirs. Also, request that the information be sent as a PDF since this will usually be easy to open on most devices
Asking for Missing Information
Sometimes after an individual has already responded to a request for information but may not have provided enough, it may be necessary to clarify what you need.
Remember to thank them for the details that they’ve already provided and explain how they can help you further.
You could politely request additional information by asking:
“Thanks for all the details that you’ve provided in relation to my query so far. I would also like to know more about X.”
“Thank you for fulfilling my request for information on the budget. Can you also provide me with documents to support the details on expenditure?”
“Based on your response to my initial query, I may need to submit an application for X. Could you provide me with information on how to go about doing that?”
Template for Formal Email Requests
When writing a formal email request, there are key points to keep in mind to ensure effective and professional communication. Here is a guide to help you write your own business emails in a formal and polite way:
- Start with a formal email greeting, such as “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.”
- Use the recipient’s name and title to show respect
- State your purpose for writing, for example, “I am writing to request detailed information about your company”
II. Subject Line
- Write a clear and concise subject line that sets expectations for the recipient
- Use keywords to help the recipient see what the email is about before they even open it
- Example: “Formal Request for Company Information”
- Jump straight to the point and clearly state your request
- Use a polite and formal tone throughout the email
- Provide all necessary information and leave room for the other party to ask questions or request additional information
- Use phrases such as “Could you please” and “I would be grateful if you could” to convey respect and appreciation
- Example: “Could you please provide me with a detailed description of your company’s products and services?”
- Thank the recipient for their time and consideration
- Use a professional email closing such as “Kind regards” or “Best regards”
- End the email with a clear call to action, such as “I look forward to hearing from you on Monday morning”
V. Email Etiquette
- Use proper grammar and spelling to show attention to detail
- Follow company email communication guidelines, if applicable
- Be mindful of the recipient’s time and avoid making demands or being pushy
- Use a formal way of writing to convey a sense of respect and professionalism
By following these guidelines, you can effectively write formal request emails that are clear, polite, and professional.
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.