How to Write an Easy to Read Email
I have increasingly been sending and receiving more emails over the past couple months. Because of this, I see how poorly people are at composing a useful email. My aim with this post is to help you send a better email. This will make you look more organized and professional.
Do not think you need to do these steps for every email. However, if you get in the habit, it will become easier when you need to send an outstanding email. Believe me, once people see a great email from you, they will not hesitate to open anything you send them.
Writing an email is a lot like writing for the web. Most people have very short attention spans and a lot of information to sift through. If you can write a concise easy to scan email, odds are your email will get read and responded to instead of skipped over or “missed’ by the recipient.
Just like an article of any kind, an email title needs to tell the recipient what they can expect from the email. If the subject can be interesting as well, that’s a plus. I am not saying you need to spend hours thinking up a witty or attention grabbing title, just make it informative.
Example: 4-15-10 Staff Meeting Rescheduled
If you were scanning your email, would this be something that would be a good indicator as to the contents?
If you are replying to an email, one helpful tip to help everyone keep their e-mailbox organized, is to respond to emails with an appropriate subject line. What I mean is, if you need to reply to several emails, reply to them individually or start a new email with an appropriate subject line like:
Replies to your last 3 emails
This will help people, (including yourself) who use filters or rules to auto sort emails into folders.
The main thing to keep in mind with the body of an email is, GET TO THE POINT IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH. The subject line is a clue as to what the body is about, but the first few sentences or paragraph need to say exactly what you want the recipient to know. In the following paragraphs would be where the details go.
The details portion is where you can finally explain the specifics in-depth. When writing this section of the email, there are still limitations and ways to help the reader get the point when they scan your well thought out email. Yes, they will scan the email, not read it word for word.
When writing details it is best to use:
- short paragraphs (3-4 lines not 3-4 sentences)
- bolded words
- bullet points
- or even headers
Having breaks like these help the important parts pop out and not make it seem like your email is a novel.
When you first write anything, you are spewing out thoughts. Sure you are forming sentences and paragraphs, but your thoughts are more scattered and focusing on the overall goal of the email. If you make a draft and spew out everything you want to say first, you can wait a little bit and revise it.
Spending a little time away then revising and formatting the draft is a great way to make sure you have one email that is easy to read and says everything you need to say. I know I hate it when I get a long email, then 3 more after it with corrections and updates. How about you?
This is part of the revision process, so I won’t spend a lot of time here. Make sure your email is, above all else, readable. I get bored reading a term paper in my inbox. Sure grammar plays a part in your communications, but you are sending a typed version of you speaking to people.
Sending something a little more on the conversational side is okay. Slang isn’t cool, but contractions and general conversational writing are fine. Just type like you are talking to the person in their office or at a meeting and you will be fine.
Make sure you send it to the right person/people! I am sure you all have received an email from someone who tried to retract it via Outlook because they sent it to the wrong group. Don’t be that person. Fill in the recipient LAST. Doing this last, you are less likely to accidentally send it before you would like to.
What are tips do you have for sending a great email?
image credit Mzelle Biscotte