7 Key Things About Email

For some people, everyday writing seems old-fashioned. Unnecessary. When is the last time you wrote a letter to send to a friend or family member? Do you still send holiday cards – and if so, do you actually write them out or just have your signature imprinted upon them?

Some years ago, schools stopped teaching cursive – the official name for writing in script. So what? Well, that means signatures that are just written in print. It also means people are losing the ability to read what is written in the script. Again, you may be thinking, what difference does it make?

Even if you never write an actual letter, you still need to know how to write more than a text or social media post. The way you write email tells the recipient something about you, and don’t want to have that be something good – especially when it has something with your job, your schooling, your children, your business, or anything else outside your close circle of friends.

Email is the modern letter it seems the majority of the population now relies primarily on email to communicate with friends, groups, colleagues, clients, vendors, and just about everyone out there. You know when you receive an email that is too long, too short, incomplete, too formal, too informal, or even inappropriate, electronic mail is forever. You may have learned that about the Internet but never stopped to think about the fact that email is in the same basic space. The emails you send should be written with care and serve their intended purposes. Once you send an email, it can be shared intentionally, (or even unintentionally), with anyone.

7 key things about email:

1. Subject Lines are Important
Maybe you don’t find it annoying when an email subject line is blank, unrelated to the content of the email, or confusing. It needs to match the content. The subject line helps you search through your email and categorize things. It’s like your own administrative assistant. Why waste that valuable resource?

2. Use Bullet Points
Think of your email like it’s a letter. Bullet points help the recipient read the communication quickly and efficiently. It helps the reader identify the main points of the email. If the recipient is expected to do something after receiving the email, highlight that call to action.

3. Keep it Short and to the Point
No one wants to read a 15 -paragraph email. Don’t send those. If you need to say that much, you may be better off sending a physical letter in the mail.
That doesn’t mean you should cram everything into fewer sections or shorter sentences. If your communication includes things about entirely different subjects, you’re probably better off sending more than one shorter email under appropriate subject lines. Combining too many subjects makes it hard for you or your recipient to find the email in a search because the content they are looking for won’t match the subject line.

4. Mind Your Tone
Start every email with an appropriate greeting. It will vary depending on who the recipient is to you, of course. Even if the subject matter requires formality and unpleasantness, you can still be professionally polite and appropriate. Even when a particular tone was not your intention, Be careful not to craft the email with tone by watching exclamation marks, using inflammatory words, and so on.

5. Avoid Using Too Many …
Since I mentioned exclamation marks, this is a good place to also mention that it’s a good idea to avoid using too many of those in your emails. Their intent may be obvious to you but can be misunderstood. Emoji characters/images should never be used in any email except to your closest personal friends.

6. Proofread. Twice.
It’s very easy to make spelling or punctuation errors in an email. It’s also easy to forget to add attachments. When you click send it’s too late to fix those mistakes, and they will make you look bad every single time. Take a minute to proofread what you wrote. Do yourself a favor and look it over twice. The first time you catch an error, you’ll be so glad you did.

7. Don’t Send Emails When Angry or Upset
It’s tempting to send emails when emotions are high. You want to say what you need to say. You want to get those feelings out of you. Don’t do it! It’s so incredibly easy to let emotions sway your judgment in ways that you will later regret. If you need to vent those feelings right away, be smart about it. Write what you want to say in a Word or Google doc until you are calm enough to make a judgment call about how to proceed from there.

What are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any points or thoughts about emails that I didn’t mention here? Would you like to hear some thoughts or information about other types of writing?

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