Most of us know how to use it but few of us use email as well as we could. By following a few simple email etiquette guidelines and using a little common sense, you can improve the quality of your electronic correspondence.
- First and foremost, don’t write what you don’t have to. In addition to ads for enhancement drugs, secured credit cards, and international lotteries, there are far too many unnecessary messages filling up inboxes all over the world.
- Choose your recipients wisely. Do you really need to “reply all” when you are responding? Does the boss’s boss need to know what you are sending?
- If you do decide to write, choose a meaningful subject line. “17 July Product Development Meeting Planning” is much stronger than “July Meeting.”
- Use a greeting: “Dear Mark,” “Hello, June,” or “Good morning, Noel.” Greetings are polite and help readers to be more receptive to your message.
- Put your main point at the beginning of your message. Many people will not read what you write in its entirety, so say what you need to say early.
- Keep your message short. Few people will read past a screen or two. If your message fills multiple screens, you probably should be using an attachment.
- Include some white space in your message. The human eye loves white space, so limit your paragraphs to five or six lines to make your message more visually appealing.
- Stay away from decorative fonts, silly pictures, and other unprofessional “artwork” that could detract from your message.
- Include your contact information in your signature block. If people need to call you or mail you something through the regular mail, make it easy for them.
- Finally, before you hit send, take the time to read what you have written. That small investment can save you hours in the long run.
By following these basics, you will eliminate many of the common problems that plague people who use email. Happy sending!