Tips on Business Emails: Drafting the Email
Every means of communication has its own strengths, and sometimes the medium is part of the message. Email is particularly tricky to get right, because unlike a face-to-face meeting or a phone call, you don’t have the aid of gestures or tone of voice. Unlike online chat, it’s more formal and often referenced later. Yet, if you work closely with colleagues or clients in remote offices, email often is the default mode of communication.
So here are 20 tips on how to craft your message.
1. Words are powerful, so use them well.
Use the right word (hint: use a dictionary or a thesaurus when you aren’t sure) and not merely an approximate one. Use simple and direct language, and get straight to the point.
2. Include a clear subject line.
For busy recipients, your subject line will decide whether the email is read immediately or shelved to be looked at later (or forgotten). Make sure your subject line accurately represents what’s in the message (e.g., “Newsletter Draft: Please Review” instead of “Urgent” or worse, “Hello”).
If you’re sending a document or picture from within the application, remember to edit the automatically-inserted subject.
Never put the entire email content in the subject line.
3. Don’t leave errors in.
Spelling errors and typos are the easiest (and unfortunately a very common) way to look unprofessional.
4. Use proper grammar and punctuation.
Just as if you were writing a regular business letter. (Which you are.)
5. Be polite.
If your colleague in another department sends you a deliverable that doesn’t have everything you need, start out by thanking them and then mention what was missing. Frame orders as requests, adding “please” and “will you?” Always remember to express gratitude, but never thank them “in advance”—that is a roundabout and arrogant way of making a request, implying that you won’t bother thanking them later.