How To Request Clarification Via Email

Many of us have a gap in communication at work or with a business or provider, but writing a request for clarification can sometimes be a scary prospect. This article will introduce you to some pointers on how to request clarification via email.

You’re a busy person, so here is a template you can use right away. Read on below the template to learn why each section is important, and for additional tips and useful information so you can make sure that your email comes across well.

How To Request Clarification Via Email Template

Dear Name,

Thank you for providing the information about [Topic X]. I appreciate your detailed explanation, however, I am unclear about which approach we should follow. Would you prefer if we go with approach A or B in this situation?

Can you assist me with this question by tomorrow afternoon? My goal is to complete [Task A] by Thursday, so this information will help me to get started immediately.

I appreciate your time and your help in clarifying this question. Your assistance will go a long way in helping to resolve [issue]. If you need any other information, please let me know. I am available for a phone call or meeting if that would be helpful or more convenient for you. 



What To Do Before You Write an Email For Clarification.

Make sure that you actually need clarification. Here’s how.

Before you write an email to clarify something, take another look to review the information and see if there is something that you were missing. In most cases, you can save face by solving your own problem without asking a question to clarify. 💡

You can also get another perspective by asking someone else to review the information.

Also, you could talk to the person to clarify before sending a formal email, because sometimes it’s difficult to convey the true meaning through an email.

Then, if you’re still not clear on something, it’s time to write an email to ask for clarification.

To recap:       

  • Review the information to see if you missed something.
  • Have a conversation before sending an email.
  • See if the information makes sense to someone else.   

What To Include In An Email For Clarification

Now it is time to write your clarification email. You can use the following template to make sure that you have effective communication for professional emails or personal emails.

Write a clear subject line, or respond directly to the email you wish to clarify.

Thank The Sender For The Information

The first thing you should do is thank the sender for providing the information. Even if you don’t quite understand what they are trying to communicate, express your thanks to them for their time and effort.

For example:

Dear Name,

Thank you for providing the detailed information about [Topic X].

State Your Current Understanding

Next, state your current understanding of the situation. Let the person know if you don’t quite grasp the issue or if you only understand part of it.

Be clear about your current understanding.

You can use language like:

My current understanding is…

From what I understand…

It seems to me that…

Make sure that you don’t point fingers or blame the other person for not conveying information well enough. Or rather, try to bridge your current understanding so that you can move forward.

Be polite, and use languages that focus the situation on you and not the other person.

Acknowledge that you need clarification.

Here are some things you can say:

I am unclear about…

Here’s what I don’t understand…

My understanding of… is unclear.

Ask Specific Questions To Clarify Information

Once you’ve established your current understanding and what’s unclear to you, you can ask questions that will help your reader clarify the information.

Use open-ended questions to guide the discussion. It can be helpful to ask questions about the 5 Ws and H in this section. In other words, who, what, where, when, why, and how. Here are some examples:

What would you like to see as the final deliverable?

Ultimately, who should be responsible for completing…

How should we proceed with….

Where should we send….

Would approach A or B be more helpful here?

What is the due date for …..

Clearly State The Goals and Next Steps

In the next section of the email, you want to clearly outline your goals, any important deadlines, and next steps. Here is some language that you can use.

My deadline for this project is [date]. Would you be able to help me with these questions before then?

If you can help me with these questions by the end of the day, I can get started on the project immediately.

Could we connect on this issue before the meeting at 2PM tomorrow?

Close On A Positive Note

You’ve explained the situation and asked for clarification so that you can solve a problem. Now, it’s time to close the email out on a positive note.

You can end on a positive note by thanking the other person for their time and consideration of their clarification request. Show that you appreciate them taking the additional time to review the email, and describe how the information will help achieve the goal. Here’s what it might look like.

Thank you for your time and for helping me to clarify these questions. Your help will go a long way in helping to resolve [issue]. Please let me know if you need any other information. I am available for a phone call or meeting if that would be helpful.