How To Write Better Emails
With so many emails every day, do you wonder if you’re getting across what you’re really wanting to say?
Even with social media, office apps, etc., emails remain a popular way to communicate with clients, vendors and customers. Consider these tips to help your emails stand out in the mix and say what you’re wanting to say the first time.
Opt for Proper Capitalization, Punctuation
OK yes, there seemingly are less rules and more flexibility in writing emails than ever before but using proper capitalization and punctuation is still the professional way to go when talking to your clients or in other business emails.
Doing so will help your message stand out in an inbox “full of acronyms, fragments, and misspellings,” says Gretchen Gavett in a Harvard Business Review blog. Plus, proper capitalization and punctuation can help you make clear what you want to say.
To emphasize that point, she quotes business writing expert Bryan A. Garner, “It takes less time to write a clear message the first time around than it does to follow up to explain what you meant to say.”
Make Dates, Days Clear
It’s not always known when the recipient is going to open your email so if you need to include a reference to a day of the week, be more specific to avoid any confusion.
For example, when you’re referencing something that will happen on Tuesday, maybe a product launch or a deadline, the exact Tuesday may be misconstrued. One way to make it clearer in your email is by using the date along with the day of the week.
A date can also help avoid the confusion that comes with the use of “next” when referring to a day of the week. Some people may think your "next Tuesday" means the upcoming Tuesday, while others think the following one, a week from Tuesday.
“So while it might feel redundant, take a couple seconds to add specific dates and specific times for the sake of clarity and ease of future reference,” writes Inc. contributing editor Jeff Haden in a blog.
Another way to make your specific dates stand out is by boldfacing them. This is particularly helpful for people who will go back and check an email for a date you sent.
“People are unlikely to re-read entire emails but they may later need to refer to specific dates, action items, etc.,” writes Haden.
Boldfacing important dates and items is another way to help recipients quickly scan for what they’re looking for when they go back to check for something in your email.
“And don't worry that emphasizing with a bold font is like shouting with all-caps,” Haden says. “Recipients will soon realize you're just making their lives easier – and will likely start to return the favor.”
Keep It Brief
No one wants to read a long email. So even if you’re trying to convey a lot of information in one email, hold back the urge to send it all at once. Make it brief.
“Consider your message from their perspective,” writes Haden.
If you have a huge block of text, break it up. Be sure to check your length before you push send. Cut it if necessary, without eliminating your key messages.
“Above all else, get to the point quickly,” says social entrepreneur Dan Pallotta in the HBR article.
Use Emojis Wisely
Emojis are acceptable on occasion and even encouraged if it can help to accurately communicate your message to customers, vendors or even associates. But think it through before adding one casually.
Emojis can be confusing - especially if someone isn’t familiar with the ones you’re choosing to include. Like words, they could be interpreted differently than the way you see them.
"Emojis can get lost in translation," says Marty Estelle Lundstrom, an attorney and founder of Polished Professionals, in a blog posted on business.com.
A good rule of thumb is to use emojis sparingly with people you don’t know, particularly new clients or new vendors.
"If you are creating a professional business email for a new client or business client that you haven't met personally yet, I would shy away from the use of emojis in any sort of correspondence with them," said James McCarthy, CEO of Placement Labs, in the business.com blog.
It’s not a good idea to use an emoji in an email that addresses a complaint or serious issue, writes Sammi Caramela in the business.com post.
Above all, don't use an emoji if you aren't certain what it means, and never replace a word with an emoji, adds Seamas Egan, director of sales and marketing at Campaigner, in the blog.