Ten Plus One Tips For Effective E-mail Writing
- Keep your message short. If your readers have to scroll more than two pages down to read your message, they will lose interest. Send long messages as attachments, but be sure that your reader has the software needed to open the attachment.
- Keep your paragraphs to four sentences or fewer. Readers should be able to read an entire paragraph without scrolling.
- Keep your lines to 70 characters or less. Many software programs do not wrap long lines. If you limit your line length to approximately 70 characters, you can avoid most line-length problems.
- Stick to plain text and avoid using bold, italics or color. These options may be displayed on your reader’s screen as control sequences or symbols which can be confusing and make your message more difficult to read.
- Send a positive image of your corporation (and yourself) by writing in a courteous and constructive tone. Because your readers can’t see or hear you, the tone of your writing is extremely important.
- Proofread your message. Watch out for typos, misused words or poor grammar. Most readers will forgive the occasional error, but if your e-mail is consistently sloppy, readers could interpret your sloppiness as incompetence or lack of professionalism.
- Use acronyms sparingly. E-mail writers have developed their own code, such as BTW for “by the way”, or LOL for “laugh out loud”. But, using too many acronyms or too much jargon is dangerous.
- Resist the temptation to send your e-mail messages to every single person who might have an interest in the topic. Try to respect your readers’ time and their needs for information.
- Don’t use e-mail to send highly sensitive or confidential information. Remember: Nothing is truly confidential in cyberspace.
- Give your readers alternative ways to reach you, such as your telephone or fax number.
PLUS ONE: Don’t hide behind e-mail. Sometimes a phone call or a face-to-face meeting is the better choice. Consider your purpose in communicating and choose the most appropriate medium to deliver your message.