Email etiquette

You know who I’m writing about. Those co-workers/friends/relatives/bosses who don’t know how to write an effective–repeat–effective email.

emailThe problem: Folks blast off emails before: 1) checking for typos; 2) assessing tone; 3) making the communique easily understandable.

Many of us on-the-go multi-taskers read the glut of emails on our phones. That means:
  • Small font (unless you changed the font display size)
  • Blocks of text which are downright daunting to read–you scroll down f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

A few solutions:

1. Use the subject line. Be specific.”Urgent” doesn’t work, because everything is urgent these days.

2. A salutation is required. Note to my students: No how matter how informal we are in class, “Yo” is not the proper way to address your teacher in an email.

3. Get to the point. Immediately. Use active verbs and simple statements.  No one wants to read through an overly wordy, convoluted, obtuse, verbose, bombastic, redundant, rambling paragraph to figure out the purpose of the email!!!

4. No ambiguity, please. Use the KISS method. Keep it simple stupid.

5. Be wary of the tone of your email. Does it sound too informal, demanding, pathetic, or  arrogant? First drafts of anything tend to be shit need require revision.

6. Use color, bullets, bold, and font size to draw attention to pertinent information but only  if appropriate. Don’t bury information about the time and place of a meeting somewhere in the middle of a lengthy unigraph. ( One v-e-r-y long paragraph.) ( Like a uni-brow, only uglier.)

7. Lots of little paragraphs are better and easier on the eye than the dreaded unigraph!

8. Reply to all is not the only option. I’m amazed how many folks think others are interested in their 2 or 3-way conversations.

9. Not everyone knows the hip new acronyms. LOL. Don’t use them. LMAO ( laughing my ass off)

10. One word: Punctuation. Use it! ( OK, that’s 3 words)

11. USING CAPS IS THE SAME AS SHOUTING. That tends to piss off people. The worst offender: My ex-husband. In addition, as any graphic designer will attest, reading all caps is difficult.

12. Irony doesn’t play well in emails. Leave it to poetry, literature, or other witty rhetoric.

13. If your signature line has an uplifting verse or religious quote, any vitriolic censure you write is sure to be read as ironic. (see #12)

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