Chapter 3: Workplace Communications

17 Writing

Before you write

In this section, we will practise writing an informal workplace email.

Writing email messages is an important skill that you will need for many tasks related to employment and daily life. The way you write an email will depend on the purpose of the message, but there are some basic things you must know:

  • Use the appropriate salutation and closing.
  • Use the appropriate level of formality.
  • Organize your information.
  • Be brief and to the point.

The context

Read the context below. Think about the context and talk about it.

Paul and Raja are supposed to meet at a particular time to discuss another idea for the 20-year anniversary campaign. Paul cannot meet Raja at that time. Paul writes a message to Raja about this.

Talk about whether the message will be formal, semi-formal, or informal. Give reasons.

Read the three email messages on the next page. Select the most appropriate message for the above context. Discuss reasons for your choice.

Emails to Raja Rao

The content

Let us look at Paul’s message more carefully.

Email from Paul Simmons to Raja Rao
  1. It is important to organize your email message and keep to the point. It is also important to use the right level of formality. You can see how Paul does this in the example below:
The steps Paul follows Sentences from his email
He tells the receiver of the message about the context/ situation. We had agreed to meet at 9:30 on Monday morning to discuss ordering the bags and T-shirts.
He apologizes and explains the problem. I am sorry, but something has come up. I won’t be able to make it at 9:30.
He suggests a solution and asks the receiver for his/her input. I was wondering if we could meet at 10:00 instead. Let me know if this works for you.
He uses more formal and more careful language when asking for something that may need some extra effort from the receiver. I was wondering if we could meet at 10:00 instead.

Ray, your Strategy Coach

  1. When we talk about time, we need to use the right prepositions. These prepositions are the words in, on, and at. It is important to use them correctly.

Complete the following

Fill in the blanks with the correct prepositions: in, on, or at.

a) I have a meeting            10:30                   the morning.

b) The meeting             noon has been cancelled.

c) I left work very early            the afternoon.

d) I like the weather             May.

e) I arrived here             Tuesday.

f) He was born            February 29, 2016.

g) She was in Vancouver             Labour Day.

h) She went to the park             Sunday morning.

Writing practice

  • Write an email message to Paul. In the message, do the following:

Tell Paul that you have to cancel a lunch appointment with him. You have an urgent meeting with Sima. Remember to write an appropriate subject for your email.

  • Refer to the rubric on the next page so that you are aware of the expectations of the task.

Writing progress check


The table on the right is a special type of form called a rubric. Rubrics are often used to measure how well a person completes a task.

On the left side is information about the writing task, with the main requirements below it. The requirements show how you should complete the task.

There are spaces for checkmarks in the three middle columns to show how well you did. On the right-hand side, there is a space for comments from the instructor or tester.

Complete the writing task on the next page, paying attention to the expectations in the rubric.

Chapter 3: Writing Progress Check
  • Topic: Workplace communications
  • Task: Write an informal workplace email


Criteria Yes Some No What can you do better next time?
You started the email with a suitable salutation.
You told the receiver of the email about the context/situation.
You apologized and explained the problem.
You suggested a solution and asked for the receiver’s input.
You ended the email with an appropriate closing.
You used the appropriate level of formality for a semi-formal email throughout.


Write an email to your co-worker, Sally Smith. You have an appointment with her at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday. You cannot meet her then. Suggest another time or day of the week. Follow the points below to organize your email and use the appropriate level of formality. Write an appropriate subject line for your email.

  • Tell the receiver of the message about the context/situation.
  • Explain the problem and apologize.
  • Suggest a solution and ask the receiver for his/her input.
  • Use appropriate formality throughout. Remember to use more formal and careful language when asking to reschedule.



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