Email writing has become a vital part of everyday life communications, whether it is personal or business. Writing a casual email to family or friends may be simple. But wait, do you know how to write a business email to your boss, colleague or a client?
This article outlines some basic rules identified by professional writers at IAP to follow in order to keep your email appropriate and to make it appear more professional. Let’s begin:
How and Where to Start
You will see most people starting from the “to”, then moving to “subject” and lastly writing the content part. Think of your email content as a proposal, the subject line as the executive summary and the “to” box as your address box.
It is always best to follow a reverse practice, write your content first, then write your subject and lastly write the email address of the recipient. This practice will help you avoid mistakenly sending an unfinished email, and more importantly; it will help you craft your subject based on your content – not your content based on your subject.
Write Clear, Detailed Subject Lines
The subject line tells us if and when we have to read an email. Vague subject lines waste time. There are three rules for subject lines:
- Subject Matter
- Action to be taken (if applicable)
In the above example (green box), the receiver exactly knows what is in the email, what is the purpose of it and what action is needed and when it is needed.
Try not to use words like “Important”, and “Urgent” a lot. At some point of time, you may lose credibility and the user may avoid reading your emails even if they are marked with “Important” and other similar tags.
Stop Writing a lot, Start Outlining
Emails are hard to read when there is a lot of content buried. So always:
- Reduce the number of paragraphs
- Limit the paragraph length (1-3 lines)
- Try your best to use list and outline format
The outlined form is easy to skim without giving the recipient a headache to dig in the email.
Categorize Your Emails
- Respond immediately to emails requiring an action: Do not let your emails to wait around to be lost in your inbox, respond immediately.
- Archive your emails: when you archive a message from your G-mail inbox, it gets removed from the main inbox. Think of emails as a to-do list, only keep emails in the main inbox that require an action or your response. Archiving helps your inbox tidy up by moving the email to All Mail label.
One easy way to keep your inbox clean is to archive an email as soon as you respond to it. You can enable this option from Gmail by going to settings and enabling (Show “Send & Archive” button in reply).
The Best Way to End Your Email
The ending is always the easiest part when drafting an email. “Thanks”, “Warmest Regards”, or “Best” are some examples most of us probably do not give a single thought. So, do emails closing even matter?
Boomerang conducted a study of 350,000 emails from 20 different online communities. They found out that emails closed with “thanks in advance”, “thank you” or showing gratitude got a significant response rate than emails ending with other popular closings.
Even if you are confident with your English, but when writing fast and times of concentration it is always easy to mistype. And you might have sent important emails without spell check.
With the Chrome free extension, Grammarly you will not only have your spelling checked but build your writing skills while correcting grammar, punctuation mistakes and at the same time misused words, typos and more.
You can download and add it: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/grammarly-for-chrome/kbfnbcaeplbcioakkpcpgfkobkghlhen?hl=en
Rules for Processing Email
Setup minimal folders
- Avoid creating or using folder for everything, use “search” instead
- Create only 2-3 folder
- Action: emails that require your immediate action
- Read-only: emails that you are not required to take action on
Respond to emails in order
- Instead of jumping from one email to another, start checking from top and work your way down
Always leave your inbox empty
- After responding to an email, do not leave it in your inbox. For solution, refer to “Categorize your email” of this article
Chief Executive Officer
Intellectual Applications & Products