6 Ways to Improve Your E-mail Messages

6 Ways to Improve Your E-mail Messages
Here are six suggestions for using e-mail effectively in a business setting:
1. Shorter is better
With the volume of messages most people receive today, you won't make them happy if
you send an e-mail that is more than 100 words long. If you can't make your message
brief, then the topic you're writing about may be too complicated for e-mail.
2. Don't use fancy formatting
Not all e-mail software is the same. Just because your e-mail program will allow you to
send messages using fancy graphics, doesn't mean the person on the other end will be
able to see it with his or her program. And if the person can't see it, part of the meaning
of your message is lost. With e-mail, the simpler the message, the better.
3. Don't use emoticons or abbreviations
"Emoticons" are keyboard symbols that people use to show emotions. These may be cute,
but they're not appropriate for business communication, and neither are abbreviations you
commonly see on the internet. Besides being too informal, they are not understood by
everyone, so you'll end up causing confusion if you use them.
4. Don't try to be funny
It's difficult to be a successful comedian even in person, but it's especially hard in the
medium of e-mail, where the reader doesn't have any visual cues like your facial
expressions. Jokes, sarcasm, and other forms of humor can be easily misunderstood or
misinterpreted in e-mail. Unless you're corresponding with someone who knows you very
well, it's better to stay away from humor in e-mails.
5. Use appropriate titles
If you're making the first contact with someone by e-mail, use his or her title wherever
possible. When replying to someone who has contacted you first, be guided by the
person's signature. If you're e-mailing someone in another country, be as formal as
6. Always proofread your message before sending it
It's easy to make mistakes in e-mail, because messages are written and sent fast. It pays
big dividends to proofread your e-mails before sending them. For important e-mails, let
someone else check your writing for errors, even if your word processing program has a
spell or grammar checker.
(Adapted from "6 Ways to Improve Your E-mail Messages," © Parlay International. Distributed
under licensing agreement.)