1. Make Your Reader the First Priority
Be organized and to the point. Stay focused in your writing and write briefly so you do not waste the reader’s time.
2. Write a Good Subject Line
Good subject lines are relevant, meaningful and let the recipient know quickly what the e-mail is about. Since people get so many e-mails on a daily basis, they often scan the subject line before they decide whether or not to open them or to simply junk them. Make sure yours doesn’t get trashed for lack of a good subject line.
3. Use a Standard Gree
Some people consider it a bit rude to ignore the salutation, even in an informal e-mail. Use “Dear,” “Hello” or even “Hi” (informal) as a salutation and then the person’s name.
4. Specify Who You Are and Why You are Writingting
This is especially true if you are writing to the person for the time. Don’t make the reader guess who the e-mail is from and your purpose in writing him or her. Confusion is uncomfortable.
5. Don’t Make People Try To Read Your Mind
If you are vague and imprecise, the results you receive will very likely to less than satisfactory. You can save time and aggravation (on both your part and the other’s part) by being clear. The results will definitely be better if people don’t have to guess what you want or mean.
6. Avoid Long, Rambling Messages
Your goal is to be concise, not impress people with your ability to string together ideas. In short, short is good, and long (usually) is bad. If you have many points that are not closely linked, think about splitting them up into different e-mails and sending them separately. Using bullet points also helps if a message is long.
7. Choose Between Formal and Casual
Make sure the vocabulary you choose is appropriate to the situation. Use titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) in formal correspondence. Avoid slang and emoticons (such as “smiles”) unless the e-mails are informal messages between coworkers or friends. In addition, the type of abbreviated vocabulary – e.g. “c u” (see you), “Gr8” (great) – shouldn’t be included in formal writing.
8. Copy and Paste If You Can
If the information you want to send is not too long, consider copying it and then pasting it into your e-mail rather than attaching a document as an attachment. Attachments need to be opened in separate files, such as Word or Adobe Acrobat, and can be a bit time-consuming for the recipient to access. As well, attachments may be worrying for recipients if they don’t know the sender very well. In fact, some businesses refuse to accept attachments for fear of being infected by a virus.
9. Take the Time to Proofread
Proofreading your e-mail before hitting the send button can save you from making many careless and embarrassing mistakes, such as spelling the person’s name incorrectly. It’s good to get into the habit of re-reading your e-mails at least once before sending them. Correspondence that is riddled with typos and wrong information creates the impression you are sloppy and perhaps even lazy.
10. Watch What You Write
E-mailing may not be as private as you think. If you are at work, the boss might be secretly looking at the e-mails you sending and receiving. Even if you are e-mailing at home, a hacker might have found a way to hack into your system and take a peek.
11. Respect People’s Privacy
When sending out a mass e-mail, it’s often a good idea to use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) function so that others can’t see all of the e-mail addresses of the people you sent the e-mail to. For one thing, using the BCC suggests that you are writing an e-mail to just one recipient, rather than firing off the same piece of correspondence to many people, therefore making it less impersonal. For another, some people may not want strangers to know their private e-mail address.
12. Be Careful with Those Buttons
Don’t make the mistake of hitting the “Reply All” button of you only want one person to receive your e-mail. This is especially true if you are criticizing someone who happens to be on that “Reply All” list.
13. Don’t Forget to Reply Without Delay
Responding promptly sends a message of professionalism, while late replies (or none at all) create the impression you don’t care about the recipient. Think how it feels to have an e-mail ignored or to receive an e-mail reply much later than you sent your original message.
14. Don’t Write Anything You Will Regret Later
Read over your e-mail before you send it, not just for typos but to see if you really mean what you’ve written. It’s usually a bad idea to fire off an angry e-mail while you’re still boiling mad. After re-reading your e-mail, you might decide it’s better to reword it or, in some cases, cancel it.
15. Manners Matter
Remember that the people whom you send e-mails to many have a different perception of your messages that you do. They may see what you believe to be a simple request as a demanding order, for example. Also, they may see your joke as biting criticism directed at them. The problem is that writing lacks all of the non-verbal clues that exist in face-to-face communication. For that reason, it’s important to make sure you carefully and politely phrase your words. Here’s another tip: DON’T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (it looks like you are screaming).