Beginner’s Tutorial: How to Write a Letter in Chinese Style

Ellison Clapton8 min
Created: Feb 23, 2024Last updated: Apr 2, 2024
How to Write a Letter in Chinese

Do you ever need to write in the Chinese letter format but are unsure where to start? You’re not alone. Crafting an email is frequently required for business, educational, or personal purposes, so having this skill is invaluable. In this article, you will find instructions detailing how to master the art of writing a Chinese letter. Rest easy as we guide you through every significant detail.

The Basics of Chinese Letter Writing

To grasp Chinese writing, one must move beyond mere word translation. It means honoring its cultural backdrop and acknowledging elements that set this type of communication apart.

Respect and formality are important in Chinese correspondence. It can be written for personal or business reasons, but a formal tone is required in most situations. It has a distinct identity from many forms of Western communication, which are not always formal.

Usually, letters commence with a warm greeting, as it’s a cultural norm to establish a friendly relationship with the reader initially. The letter goes ahead to address the key issues in a simple manner.

One should remember to be explicit, detailed, and objective while writing. Keeping concepts and ideas concrete helps ensure your message is received as intended. Careful wording is essential since ambiguity or misunderstandings can easily occur due to linguistic complexities inherent in Chinese.

Chinese Email Format: A Detailed Guide

One crucial aspect to consider in any foreign correspondence is the format. Much like any other, the Chinese format has specific elements that need to be handled delicately. This clear and helpful breakdown will give you an understanding of how to write a Chinese letter.

The Subject Line

Writing the subject line of your email is an important step. It prepares the reader by defining the theme and what is to come. The objective is to be brief yet informative and make the email’s content clear from the title.

When devising a subject line, consider the main purpose of your email. Is it to inquire, announce, request, or propose? The clarity can impact the recipient’s engagement.

  • 会议时间确认 (huì yì shí jiān què rèn) – Confirmation of Meeting Time. This subject line is used when you need to confirm or reconfirm the scheduled time for a meeting. It’s straightforward and shows the email contains important logistical information.
  • 新产品发售通知 (xīn chǎn pǐn fā shòu tōng zhī) – New Product Launch Notification. Ideal for emails that announce the release of new products, it grabs attention by highlighting something new and exciting.
  • 项目进展更新 (xiàng mù jìn zhǎn gēng xīn) – Project Progress Update. When updating stakeholders or team members on the status of a project, this subject line conveys the purpose of the email.

A clear, concise, and specific subject line is always more effective than a vague or overly complicated one. It guarantees that the recipient understands your purpose before even opening the email.

Writing the Greeting

In Chinese email communication, the greeting sets the tone for the entire message. It’s where respect and formality are first established, crucial in a culture that values hierarchy and politeness. Crafting an appropriate greeting involves selecting the right phrases and titles to address the recipient respectfully.

For formal emails, especially in a business context, it’s essential to use the recipient’s title and last name. If you’re unsure about the specific title, ‘尊敬的’ (Zūnjìng de) (Respected) is a safe and respectful option.

  • 尊敬的王先生 (Zūnjìng de Wáng xiānshēng) – Respected Mr. Wang.
  • 尊敬的李教授 (Zūnjìng de Lǐ jiàoshòu) – Respected Professor Li.
  • 尊敬的赵博士 (Zūnjìng de Zhào bóshì) – Respected Dr. Zhao.

When writing to a friend or a known colleague with whom you have an informal relationship, it’s acceptable to use a more casual greeting. However, it’s still common to address them by their last name unless you’re very close.

  • 你好,李雷 (Nǐ hǎo, Lǐ Léi) – Hello, Li Lei.
  • 小张,你好 (Xiǎo Zhāng, nǐ hǎo) – Hello, Xiao Zhang.

Using ‘小’ (Xiǎo) (little) before the surname is a friendly way to address younger people or peers in an informal yet respectful manner.


Writing the Body

The body of a Chinese email follows the greeting and is where you articulate the main purpose of your message. It should be clear, concise, and structured to communicate your points effectively. Here are guidelines to help you navigate this crucial section of your email:

  1. Start with a purpose statement. Begin by clearly stating the purpose of your email. It helps the recipient understand the context and importance of your message right from the start. 我写这封邮件是为了询问... (Wǒ xiě zhè fēng yóujiàn shì wèile xúnwèn...) – I am writing this email to inquire about...
  2. Detail your points. After introducing the purpose, detail your points in a logical order. If you have multiple topics to cover, consider using bullet points or numbered lists for clarity. 首先, 我想讨论... (Shǒuxiān, wǒ xiǎng tǎolùn...) – First, I would like to discuss...
  3. Use polite language. Maintaining a polite tone is crucial. Use respectful phrases, especially when making requests or suggestions. 您能否提供...?(Nín néng fǒu tígōng...?) – Could you please provide...?
  4. Closing statement. Before your sign-off, include a closing statement summarizing your email or thank the recipient for their time. 感谢您抽时间阅读这封邮件。 (Gǎnxiè nín chōu shíjiān yuèdú zhè fēng yóujiàn.) – Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

Such points aid in constructing a structured and effective email body. Start with a clear intention, detail points logically, be polite, and end with a closing remark. 

Signature of Chinese Emails

Before your name, it’s customary to include a polite closing phrase. It can vary depending on the formality of the email and your relationship with the recipient. Examples include:

  • 此致敬礼 (Cǐ zhì jìng lǐ) – With respect.
  • 敬上 (Jìng shàng) – Respectfully.

In business emails, include your title and contact information below your name. It can include your phone number, email address, and company name. For more personal emails, this part can be omitted.

李华 (Lǐ Huá)

营销经理 (Yíngxiāo jīnglǐ) – Marketing Manager

XYZ公司 (XYZ Gōngsī) – XYZ Company

电话: 123-456-7890 (Diànhuà: 123-456-7890) – Phone: 123-456-7890

电邮: (Diànyóu: – Email:

Essential Vocabulary for Writing Chinese Business Letters

Understanding specialized vocabulary is key to writing effective business letters. Here, we share crucial words and phrases that can help improve clarity and eloquence in your correspondence:

  • 此致敬礼 [Cǐ zhì jìng lǐ] – This phrase is used as a closing, meaning ‘With respect’ or ‘Yours sincerely,’ to show politeness.

此致敬礼 (Yours sincerely.)

  • 合作 [Hézuò] – Cooperation; a key term when proposing or discussing collaborations.

期待与您的合作。 (Looking forward to cooperating with you.)

  • 项目 [Xiàngmù] – Project; used when referring to specific tasks or collaborations.

关于新项目的讨论 (Discussion about the new project.)

  • 商务 [Shāngwù] – Business; a generic term applicable to various business contexts.

商务会议 (Business meeting.)

  • 谢谢 [Xièxiè] – Thank you; expressing gratitude is important in Chinese culture, even in business communications.

谢谢您的快速回复。 (Thank you for your prompt reply.)

  • 询问 [Xúnwèn] – To inquire; useful for asking questions or seeking information.

我想询问关于合同的细节。 (I would like to inquire about the details of the contract.)

  • 附件 [Fùjiàn] – Attachment; indicates that you have included additional documents with your letter or email.

请查收附件中的报告。 (Please find the report in the attachment.)

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When communicating in Chinese, remember the key elements: a concise subject line, proper greeting, clear message body, and respectful closing. Attentiveness to such aspects will improve communication and enhance your relationships. Also, always keep in mind the high regard for details and respect inherent in the culture. The guidelines will give you a clear understanding of how to write a letter in Chinese.


Can I use translation tools for writing business letters in Chinese?

While translation tools can be helpful, relying solely on them for business communication can lead to inaccuracies or cultural misunderstandings. These tools often struggle with context and the subtleties of formal language. It’s better to use them as a supplementary aid while learning and to have a native speaker review important documents.

How can I practice the Chinese business language effectively?

Practicing Chinese requires real-world application. Try reading business news to familiarize yourself with the formal language used in current affairs. Joining forums or social media groups can also provide opportunities to engage in discussions and learn diverse vocabulary and Chinese idioms.

How can I ensure my business letters are well-received?

Focus on clarity, formality, and respect. Use appropriate greetings and closings, and clearly state your purpose at the beginning of the letter. Be mindful of hierarchy, using titles and last names to address recipients.

Where can I learn Chinese business language and phrases?

There are several resources for expanding your Chinese. provides various resources, including quizzes and dictionaries specifically tailored for business Chinese. YellowBridge is an educational platform that offers a wide range of tools, including a dictionary with business-related terms.