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What guidelines and language should be used to write a polite reminder email. Ideally I would like it to be:

  • Respectful
  • Not too formal

In particular I am thinking in terms of business, and communication between businesses.

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4  
Perhaps by starting with a rough outline of what you would like to say, everyone can offer suggestions on structure and wording. "Polite reminder email" feels a bit broad and I wouldn't know where to start except to say "be polite." Admittedly, that wouldn't be very helpful. –  Robert Cartaino Feb 3 '11 at 17:20
    
Just a note: If this question were asked now, it might well be closed as off-topic. (It's not asking what to write, exactly, but those are the answers it's generating.) –  Neil Fein May 30 at 5:59

10 Answers 10

I like suggesting that they may have already done it, in case they have!

Dear xxx,
If you haven't already, please take a moment to ...

If you have, thank you.

Regards,
xxx

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You need a new line after "Dear xxx", and possibly change "please" to "could you please" depending on your relationship. Ie, is this a request or an order? Also "Regards" may be "Kind regards" depending again on relationship. Generally "Regards" if you have a closer relationship and "Kind regards" if not. Otherwise, well worded. –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 9:53
1  
The missing line break baffles me, it's there when I try to edit my post and I inserted one when I wrote it. Same goes for the line break that should be there after "Regards." - As far as using "regards", I was striving for a little less formality. Personal taste. –  Lynn Beighley Apr 4 '11 at 17:36
    
Agreed. Fixed the newlines. This answer needs a higher score! –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 20:45
    
This is particularly useful if the person from whom we are waiting for a response is blocked by someone else's response. +1 for this. –  Subin Sebastian Sep 30 '13 at 14:45

When following up on an e-mail:

I usually forward the original e-mail to the original recipient, with some added text at the top.

Hello [Name],
Have you had time to look into this?

Kind Regards,
...

Forwarded message:
From: ....
Date: ...
Subject: ...
To: ...

...
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2  
I like this one, because implicit in it is that you understand that they might be busy. (Whether that's actually true or not is irrelevant.) –  Mike Pope Feb 4 '11 at 17:52
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Probably the best answer. I'd use their name though, so "Hello XXX," –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 9:35
    
Agree regarding the use of the recipients name. I've edited my answer. –  codeape May 29 at 18:49

Just forward your original e-mail and write on top of it "Polite Reminder."

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I think the best way to remind someone is "I think my e-mail missed your attention".

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I hope this email finds you well. I'm just emailing to check how far the (xxprogram/process/proceduresxx) goes. I’ll be waiting your (xxrecommendations/reply/answerxx) regarding (xxthis matter/the __ programxx).

If you require any further (xxInfo/detailsxx) about (xxxx) , I remain at your disposal.

Have a nice day Sir. Thank you.

Kind regards,

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Good answer, except I would remove "Have a nice day Sir." and "I remain at your disposal" (but keep the rest of the sentence, just rephrase for grammar). Also, include a greeting at the top. Otherwise, fine. +1 –  Feral Oink Jan 7 '12 at 22:05

Write it as if you're the one apologizing to them.

You know that they're the one who is dragging their feet. Pretend like you were instead. Frame the message in terms of "I must have missed an email somewhere, sorry" rather than "why haven't you sent me an email?"

This lets them take the action you want without accepting blame for the delay, which for some people is psychologically important.

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I very much disagree with this. While, yes, you want to help them meet their psychological needs (cf Maslow), by apologising you are basically giving away your position, doing the animial equivilent of lying down, showing your belly and submitting. All you are likely to do here is expose yourself as weak and encourage further delay. You are much better being assertive and warm. The two are not mutually exclusive. –  Panda Apr 14 '11 at 2:17

I usually write something like:


Hi.

I was checking my mail and it looks like I didn't get a response to the mail I wrote you, am I wrong?


I've found that the longer the mail, the lowest the probability that the guy actually replies back to me, so I keep emails short and polite.

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1  
Too informal and too passive. It's also a bit of a social lie. You haven't "just been checking your mail". It's also a question they can't actually answer. You are asking them if it looks like you didn't get a response. How do they know what your mailbox looks like? You should be asking them what you want them to do. Business communication should be direct, polite, respectful and sincere. –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 9:37
    
Too informal, not appropriate for professional communication, I guess. –  Subin Sebastian Sep 30 '13 at 14:43

Here's how I write it:

Hi - this is just a friendly reminder that I'm waiting for [whatever it is]. Thanks!

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4  
I think this is too passive and too informal for professional communication, even for internal emails. –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 9:36

I'd probably go with something on the lines of:

Hi [whoever]

Just checking that the XXX I sent you on Xth XXX is okay. I have to [do something] with your feedback before I can [do something else]. Can you let me know when you'll be able to look at it for me?

Thanks

That way, it makes it sound like you're putting yourself in their debt (whether or not that is true is irrelevant), and people on the whole tend to like people being indebted to them.

It also doesn't actively demand that they do something immediately, just asks them when they will be able to do it.

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3  
Seems slightly informal and slightly too passive to me. I'd go with "Hello" rather than "Hi". "I'm just emailing to check that the XXX" rather than "Just checking that the XXX" and "Can you please tell me" rather than "Can you let me know". I'd also always use "Kind regards" rather than "Thanks". Thanks is used when someone has given you something. Here you are asking for something instead. –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 9:32

Well, makes sure you're clear what you're asking about and don't assume they have the same information that you do. If you're following up on a submission make sure you tell them the title of the story and when you sent it off. It's possible that lost/misplaced your submission so this information well help them find your work. Just remember to give them enough time to reply, I usually suggest waiting twice the listed average response time.

Here's one I've actually sent in the past. It's a little bit to terse but I was quickly banging it out, but it does cover the very basics.

I'm just sending in a query for the submission "Changing the Way" I sent it in on the 5th of October 2009. I do not believe I have yet to receive a response.

I did get a quick response back on this. It turns out that they had misplaced it and quickly found it once I asked.

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Note on usage: if you 'do not believe' you 'have yet to receive' that means you have indeed received a response. Just sayin'. –  atroon Feb 3 '11 at 20:20
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The wording here is a little off. "I'm just sending in a query" is not correct, "This is a query" is more accurate. The second sentance should be "I have yet to recieve a response", although that's slightly passive-agressive, so "I don't believe I have recieved a response yet" is better. But also crucially you need to ask them what you want them to do, so it should end with "Can you please update me on the status of my submission?" or similar. –  Panda Apr 4 '11 at 9:45

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