Sunday, October 26, 2014

Writing Better Emails

In 2013, there were 3.9 billion email accounts, and more than 100 billion emails sent each day are mostly business correspondence. We all find ourselves reading or writing emails and they often convey a lot about ourselves, whether we like it or not. So it makes sense to write emails sensible and professionally, to project a positive image.

Here are some helpful tips to writing better emails.

1. Stick to the same email address and use a standard email address from Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo.

2. If you have a cheesy email address, (e.g. namerox101!) then it is best you move along with the times.

3. Use logical subject lines - Convey the message in a single line and use names and dates. For example, if you are writing to inquire about an appointment the following subject line may help: Appointment for Dr. Smith on October 25th.

4. Write to the point - People increasingly read their emails on their mobile devices. In fact, 69% of Gmail and Yahoo mail was read on a mobile device. Meanwhile, 30% of consumers say they read their email exclusively on mobile devices. These screens are generally smaller than those of PCs, so there is less space available to convey the message. As a rule of thumb, say what you have to say in about 150 words. If you want to check your email, you could use a service like to make sure you are not going above the limit.

5. Write concisely with proper grammar (activate spell-check!).

6. Use a clear email signature.
a. Name
b. Positive
c. Contact information
i. Address
ii. Phone Number
iii. Office Hours

7. Social Media Contact Information

8. Use the 24-hour rule - Read quickly and aim to send out a response within 24 hours. If you need more time, send out a quick email informing the sender that you are looking into the email. e.g., “I received your email. I shall look into it in detail and respond later. Thanks!"

9. Re-read before sending - read your emails at-least twice before sending. A spell check alone is not enough. If you are the impatient type, activate an email delay function (available on Gmail).

10. Write with a respectful tone - This means that unless you personally know the person, emoticons (e.g. =D) are not allowed.

11. Be careful of using features like Reply All, CC, and BCC

a. Reply all - do not use this unless you absolutely have to as many people find this extremely annoying. This is best used to set up meetings or perhaps discuss an important concept but not for casual conversations of office banter.

b. CC - this is the FYI function of your email. Keeping someone else up to date on the proceedings.

c. BCC - this is for sending bulk email and you do not want everyone's email address to be visible in the To or CC line. This is best for those forwards you just need to send or risk death. If you are Bcc’d on an email, then never use the Reply All function.

12. Sometimes emails may get lost or accidently deleted. So it's okay to send a quick reminder if the person has not responded within a reasonable amount of time (generally +24 hours).

If your conversation thread gets too long, you may want to edit the subject line to keep things fresh.