It’s something we’re not always exposed to when we start to learn the language, but it’s important to consider how to write a formal email in Chinese – particularly in a business context. We know the importance of business etiquette in China, so it’s vital to know how to use the correct salutations and wording.
Unless you are emailing someone you’re very familiar with (e.g. a friend, family or close co-worker), it’s always best to lead with the formal. As a general rule, letters and emails in Chinese as a whole tend to be more formal. There is definitely room to move to a less formal approach later down the chain, if that’s how the recipient leads it, however it’s never harmful to start off formal.
Before we get started, make sure you have a Hanzi keyboard installed on your machine.
Now, let’s take a look at some tips for writing a formal email in Chinese…
Keep it simple, formal and clear. Get straight to the point.
Title and Greeting
It’s important to greet everybody who you are emailing and use business labels where appropriate, such as ‘President’ or ‘Manager’. Some formal titles:
- 先生 – xiān shēng – Sir/Mr
- 女士 – nǚ shì – Ms/Mrs
- 经理 – jīng lǐ – Manager
- 领导 – lǐng dǎo – Leader
- 总经理 – zǒng jīng lǐ – President/Manager (higher position than 经理)
- 同事 – tóng shì – Co-worker
- 同志 – tóng zhì – Comrade (less formal)
For a more general approach, you could go for ‘To Whom it May Concern’:
致相关人士 – zhì xiāng guān rén shì
Closing + Sign Off
It’s best to end Chinese emails with a ‘Best Regards’, written with the following characters and spacing:
We know how important business card etiquette is in China, so it’s important to include your title, company name and contact details in your email signature. Contact details should include your company address, personal business phone number and business email address.
Note: don’t forget to use Chinese punctuation in your email, rather than the Western versions on your keyboard!
Why not read some more of our Chinese Business blogs? If there’s any more business content that you’d like to see, please reach out to us on our socials and we’ll be glad to accommodate!