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Email Writing 101
Transcript of Email Writing 101
The 5 C's of Writing
Some reasons English is crazy
Choose 5 questions to answer
In class time
What types of emails might you have to write in a one-month period? What different reasons did you write them for?
How many emails do you send a week?
How many emails do you receive a week?
How many emails approximately in your inbox?
How many folders do you have for your inbox?
Whenever we communicate we say three things:
Something about your message
Something about your reader
Something about you
5 tips for reducing the clutter
1. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
2. If you were a cartoon, which one would you prefer
3. What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
4. What's the worst thing you did as a kid?
5. What do you do to have fun?
6. Have you been told, you look like someone famous?
7. What is that one thing which makes you different?
8. If you could eliminate one thing from your daily
schedule, what would it be and why?
9. Which letter of the alphabet describes you best?
10. If you were to write a book about yourself,
what would you name it?
11. Tell us something you hate doing. Why?
12. What's your pet peeve?
13. What's the one thing, you can't live without?
14. As a child, what did you wish to become
when you grew up?
15. If given a chance, who would you like to
be for a day?
Outside of class time
Your top 5 Strengths & Weaknesses
To learn the value of good written communication
To learn how to write and proofread your work so it is Clear, Concise, Complete, and Correct (and Courteous)
To provide opportunities to apply these skills in real world situations
To understand the proper format various email purposes
Our aim is to teach the habits of good writing. With the proper attitude, a respect for how words work together, and knowledge of the conventions of usage, your writing can be clear, concise, and easy to read.
Trust yourself. Find out what you think, and say what you mean in the simple language you would use with a friend. Make adjustments in your wording until you are sure you are saying what you want to say.
If you want to be a better writer, there are four things you can do:
1) You must READ. If the only writing you ever read is your own, you will have no standards to judge your writing against. We learned to talk by hearing others speak. If you spent a year in England, you would come back with a British accent.
2) You must WRITE. No matter how many rules you know, it takes practice to write well. Your tenth email to an upset client will be easier to write than the first one, and believe it or not, the tenth report will be easier to write too.
3) You should WANT to WRITE. Find personal reasons for wanting to write well, for wanting to communicate with others, and then turn off the language cop and get writing.
4) You need a FEEDBACK system to tell you how you're doing. You need to know if the writing works. People don't learn to write well from being corrected. They learn not to write. Look at feedback as an opportunity to find better solutions, not as an opportunity to correct errors.
The Pweor of the hmuan mnid
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaern what oredr the ltteers in a word are. The only iprmoetnt thing is that the first and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the human mind deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.
When we write well, we are saying that we have thought about our message, we have taken the time to understand the reader, and we send a positive image of ourselves.
When we write well, we improve the bottom line. Why? We save time, frustration, and inconvenience; all of which represent costs.
How would you rewrite the following sentences so they are clearer to a reader?
Rose Walters is only an assistant to
Report any other defects or mechanical
damage to the supervisor in the finished
Arriving early for my interview the
human resources office was not open.
Kaye’s job does not, because it causes
great stress, seem worth keeping.
Driving cautiously, the dangerous
intersection was approached.
Rewrite these sentences to make them more readable.
Regardless of their seniority or union affiliation, all employees who hope to be promoted are expected to continue their education either by enrolling in the special courses to be offered by the department, which are scheduled to be given after working hours beginning next Wednesday, or by taking approved correspondence courses selected from a list which may be seen in the Human Resources office.
This policy does not appear to be well understood by departmental management in the region even though this group has a prime responsibility for implementing the policy.
1. When editing, try to reduce long clauses to shorter phrases
The clown who was in the center ring was riding a tricycle.
The clown in the center ring was riding a tricycle.
2. Likewise, try to reduce phrases to single words
The clown at the end of the line tried to sweep up the spotlight.
The last clown tried to sweep up the spotlight.
3. Avoid There is, There are, and There were as sentence openers when There adds nothing to the meaning of a sentence
There is a prize in every box of Quacko cereal.
A prize is in every box of Quacko cereal.
There are two security guards at the gate.
Two security guards stand at the gate.
4. Don’t overwork very, really, totally, and other modifiers that add little or nothing to the meaning of a sentence.
By the time she got home, Merdine was very tired.
By the time she got home, Merdine was exhausted.
She was also really hungry.
She was also starving.
5. Wherever possible, replace redundant expressions (that is, phrases that use more words than necessary to make a point) with precise words. Remember: needless words are those that add nothing (or nothing significant) to the meaning of our writing. They tend to bore the reader and distract from our ideas. So let’s cut them out!
basic fundamentals basics
by means of by
descend down descend
green in color green
in the event that if
join together join
new innovation innovation
circle in shape oval
the reason is because because
very unique unique
Eliminate unnecessary words in the following phrases.
At this point in time Until such time
In the near future In view of the fact that
In the event that Not in a position
For the purpose of Remember the fact that
With regard to During the time that
I am of the opinion that In the same way
Please do not hesitate to let me know Most of the time
The early part of next week There is no doubt that
Your check in the amount of At the present time
It is quite probable that A large number of
Use up to date phrases, rather than those that are dated. (Write "omit" if you believe there is no appropriate substitute.)
As per your instruction Awaiting your reply, we are in due course
At an early date In response to yours of the 12th
Attached herewith Hoping to hear from you soon, we remain
In lieu of According to our records
In reply I wish to state Allow me to express
In response to same We wish to advise that/ We deem it advisable
Kindly note same This will acknowledge
Pleased be advised that/I would advise Thanking you in advance
Pursuant to our agreement Take the liberty of
Refer back to
Write the following sentences more concisely.
In the event that payment is not made by January,
your license will be suspended.
The invoice was in the amount of $50,000.
He ordered desks which are of the executive type.
There are four rules which should be observed.
The department budget can be observed to be decreasing each new year.
Tips on making your writing complete
Use the 5 W's and an H. Answer the questions:
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Make a checklist of all the important points you want to cover, and then check them off when the email is done
Empathize with the reader. Have I told him/her everything he/she needs to know?
Give something extra when appropriate
Courtesy is an important principle of good business writing.
Be sincerely tactful, thoughtful, and appreciative
Don’t use words that could irritate, hurt, or belittle
Apologize with a good nature, when required
Answer your own mail promptly
Use an appropriate writing style that fits the topic you are writing about and your audience
When writing emails, you should also make sure you:
Use the appropriate company name
Spell the person’s name correctly
Use the proper form of address; if unsure, use Mr. or Mrs.
If unsure of gender, simply use the person’s name.
We make most of our mechanical mistakes in four areas:
Subjects and verbs should agree in number. For example, if the subject (noun or pronoun) is singular, the verb should be singular too. Most of the time we will have no trouble, but occasionally things get a bit tricky
Allow meaning to determine whether collective nouns (jury, team, family, etc.) are singular or plural. When they function as a unit, as is usually the case, treat them as singular.
“The Board is pleased to announce the promotion of Jane Doe to Acting Manager.”
“The committee made the decision to move forward.”
“The jury has reached its decision.”
However, if the members of the group function individually, treat the collective noun as plural.
“The Board was split on the need for budget cuts,” is an instance of a plural collective noun, with the Board representing several voices or points of view, so a plural verb was needed.
Words such as athletes, economics, scissors, statistics, and news are usually considered single despite their plural form.
“Which” and “that” are relative pronouns that refer to other nouns or pronouns (antecedents) and the verb should agree with the noun or pronoun it refers to. For example, in the sentence, “Take a suit that travels well,” “that” refers to the suit and since “suit” is considered one outfit, the verb is the singular verb “travels.”
Make pronouns and their antecedents (the word the pronoun refers to) agree.
The doctor finished her rounds.
The doctors finished their rounds.
Anybody, anyone, each, either, everybody, everything, none, no one, someone, and something are all considered singular. In a sentence using both “neither” and “nor” the verb agrees with the final noun as in, “Neither Roger nor the twins are here today.”
Place modifiers or describers as close to the word they modify as possible, so the relationship is clear to the reader. Putting modifiers in their proper place is not always easy, however. The mistakes can be funny for everyone but the poor writer.
For example, in the sentence, “Opening the window to let out a huge bumblebee, the car accidentally swerved into an oncoming car,” the sentence falsely suggests the car opened the window. However, the car didn’t open the window; the driver did.
To repair the sentence, it can be revised like this, “As the driver (I) opened the window to let out a huge bumblebee, the car swerved into an oncoming car.” OR “Opening the window to let out a huge bumblebee, I accidentally swerved my vehicle into an oncoming car.”
“While reading the director’s report, Gibbon’s phone rang,” can be changed to, “While Gibbon was reading the director’s report, the phone rang.”
Rewrite these sentences so subjects and verbs, nouns and pronouns agree.
Everyone was there, and I was glad to see him.
Effective presentation of the competitive advantages of these products require increased television and advertising.
If any one of the garages are picketed, that section of the city will be without public transportation.
Some of these problems looks challenging.
Neither the doctor nor the nurses knows the whereabouts of the patient.
Rewrite the following sentences so that modifiers are in their proper places.
The only other zoo animals that tried the crackers were the raccoons. Hanging upside down from their cage, Lund fed them biscuits from his hand.
I have discussed with my colleagues the possibility of stocking the proposed poultry plant.
He has one of the lowest mortality rates anywhere of any heart surgeon.
Dr. Coleridge has nearly performed ninety-one heart transplants.
Active and Passive Voice
Most people prefer to read writing that is in the active voice, especially when you are writing about people. It is easier to read “Robert Green developed a process for constructing new solar homes,” than it is to read, “A new process for developing solar homes was developed by Robert Green.”
In the active voice, the subject of a sentence is the doer of the action. For active sentences, follow the usual word order in your sentences-subject, verb, object. Your sentences will be more interesting and easier to understand.
PASSIVE: The exam was thought to be unfair.
ACTIVE: We thought the exam was unfair.
PASSIVE: Every shred of evidence to be found was investigated by the detectives.
ACTIVE: The detectives investigated every shred of evidence they could find.
PASSIVE: The ground was littered after the concert.
ACTIVE: Garbage littered the grounds after the concert.
Many government documents and the policies of large organizations use the passive voice which sounds quite impersonal. Talking directly to your readers with words like “I, you, we, us, our,” makes your document more personal.
Rather than, “The client can make applications to the Department of Motor Vehicles for licensing before June 1,” write, “You can apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for your license before June 1.”
There are times when the passive voice is useful:
When you must deliver bad news. “The decision to terminate your lease was agreed upon by all members of the committee.”
Use passive voice when the subject is not important or you don’t know the subject. “The children were delighted by the sudden appearance of a clown.”
Use passive voice when you aren’t sure who or what is responsible for an action. “Their house was broken into last night.”
Use passive voice when you want to focus attention on the action, not the doer of the action. “When harvest time approaches, the potato plants are sprayed with a chemical to keep them from sprouting.”
How can you write each of the following sentences using the active voice?
The new process is believed to be superior by the investigators.
The office will be inspected by John Rhodes from NYC.
It is desired by this office that the problem be brought before the board.
A complete renovation was required by the new owners.
The letter was typed by Brian, the new assistant.
A sentence is a complete unit of thought. Sentences can be classified by their structure.
A simple sentence has one idea expressed by one subject and one verb: “Billy ran.” Adding additional descriptors to those two words does not change the main idea: “Billy ran into the school yard.”
A compound sentence has at least two main ideas or clauses joined together. “Billy ran into the school yard and started crying for his mother.”
A complex sentence has one main idea and a second idea that is subordinate but tied to it. “Billy ran into the schoolyard when the school bus pulled away.”
A compound-complex sentence has two main ideas and at least one subordinate or secondary clause with it. “Billy ran into the school yard when the school bus pulled away, and began crying for his mother, who was nowhere to be seen.”
A paragraph is defined as a collection of sentences that may introduce, conclude, connect, and develop some part of an idea. Paragraphs have a beginning (a statement of the theme), a middle (clearly and logically develops the theme), and an end (concludes the discussion and sometimes provides a link to the next paragraph).
Limit each paragraph to one idea, unless you are linking related thoughts. If you are comparing the old and the new, for example, it makes sense to bring them together in one paragraph.
Ordering the middle of a paragraph is a challenge for many writers.
However, ordering may be chronological, in order of importance, move from general to specific (or vice versa), move from simple to complex, from pro to con, or from question to answer. Complicated information, or a discussion of several ideas, generally needs to be broken up into separate paragraphs to be easily understood.
To avoid choppy paragraphs, use a variety of sentence types and sentence lengths. While the average sentence should be about 17 words, vary the length of your sentences to make your writing more interesting.
Keep paragraphs short when possible. Paragraph length, of course, depends on content. Some topics are short, some are long, and others are in between. A good rule to follow is to question the unity of paragraphs over 12 lines. An average length of 9 lines makes for good readability.
Sentences & Paragraphs
FEWER refers to number but LESS modifies a singular noun. “There were fewer volunteers and they were less eager to work.”
ANXIOUS means worried. EAGER means desirous. “I am anxious about the interview tomorrow but I am eager to begin earning some money.”
ALMOST means nearly. MOST is the superlative form of much. “I have almost finished lunch. This was the most delicious salad I’ve eaten in days.”
NUMEROUS refers to a large but unknown number. MANY is a large, indefinite number. “There are numerous sales positions advertised but many of them are for jobs in manufacturing.”
WHO and whoever are always subjects of a clause. WHOM and whomever are always objects of verbs or prepositions.
“The man who wanted to buy the miracle window cleaner stood in line for an hour.”
“The firefighters rescued the children whom the police had been unable to reach.”
THAT & WHICH
“That” is used almost exclusively with restrictive clauses; those that limit or narrows the definition of an item. The clause cannot be moved or changed without affecting the meaning of the sentence. For example, “The clothes that Jamie wore to the party reeked of cigarette smoke.” The only clothes being talked about here are those Jamie wore to the party.
“Which,” on the other hand, is used in a non-restrictive clause, neither limiting nor narrowing meaning but rather telling more about an item. “The Statue of Liberty, which is in New York, welcomed many, many immigrants at the turn of the century.”
The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was
time to present the present.
At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object, nor could I be objective
about the objective.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.
Screwy pronunciations can mess up your mind! For example:
If you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going
through the bough on a tree!
There is no egg in eggplant.
Don’t make all nurses and secretaries “she” nor all doctors and senior executives “he.” An easy way to eliminate gender bias is to recast the sentence in the plural. Rather than “Each employee should shut off his computer before leaving,” write, “Employees should shut off their computers before leaving.”
Another possibility is to delete the personal pronoun. Rather than “If an employee is late, notify his immediate supervisor,” becomes, “If an employee is late, notify the immediate supervisor.”
What are some inclusive alternatives for these words?
Man on the street Fisherman
The two basic rules for constructing sentences are use construction that makes meaning clear and keep construction parallel. Parallel construction means that parts of a sentence that are parallel or balanced in meaning should be parallel or balanced in structure.
For example, if you write, “She likes swimming, running and to play the piano,” to play the piano is a different construction from swimming and running. Write “She likes swimming, running, and playing the piano,” to make the activities parallel in structure.
When Shakespeare has Hamlet say “To die, to sleep, perchance to dream,” he is using parallel structure. Parallelism refers to a series of like grammatical structures—words, phrases, clauses—expressed in repeated grammatical construction.
Change the following sentences to the correct parallel structure:
Running, walking, and a swim are all good forms of exercise.
To get to the store, you walked down to the corner, take the path through the park and cut across the square.
To run for office, you may have to join a party, have to sell your independent views, and raffle tickets.
Roseanne Barr battled her network, will fight with her husband publicly, and sings the American national anthem with an equal absence of class.
Three reasons why manufacturing companies are losing money is that their plants are inefficient, high labor costs, and increasing foreign competition.
Semi Colon ;
Commas are our most common punctuation mark inside a sentence. However, the trend today is to use it only when absolutely necessary, when omitting the comma would cause confusion.
Use a comma after a long introductory phrase or clause: "After working all day at the office, I went home for dinner." If the introductory material is short, forget the comma: "After work I went home for dinner."
Use a comma if the sentence would be confusing without it, like this: “The day before, I borrowed my boss's calculator."
Use a comma to separate elements in a series, including numbers in a list: "I enjoy drinking orange juice, tea, milk, and coffee." You also use it with numbers: “5, 7, and 9.” (There is a movement afoot to omit the comma before “and.”)
Use a comma to separate independent clauses that are joined by and, but, or, nor, for, or yet. "We shopped for three hours, but we didn't make a single purchase."
Use a comma(s) to set off nonessential elements in a sentence. Compare these two sentences:
In this sentence: “At the podium stood a man wearing a green suit,” the phrase “wearing a green suit” is essential to identify which man.
However, in this sentence: “At the podium stood Frank, wearing a green suit,” the phrase “wearing a green suit,” adds nonessential information about Frank.
Use a comma to:
Separate a city or town from a state, as in Sarasota, Florida and Santa Ana, California.
Set off the name in a direct address. “Jane, can I see you in my office please.”
After dates, when day, month and year are used. “He was born August 12th, 1975.
Before degrees that come after a name, as in Joan Walker, PhD.
Set off an informal quotation, as in: Robert remarked, “My investment counselor is very good.”
After linking adverbs such as however, therefore, etc. “The hike was several miles long; however, the path was a good one.”
Separate thousands in numbers for clarification, as in 18,239.
When shouldn’t we use commas?
Do not use commas between two independent sentences.
Do not use commas after titles like Jr. or Sr.
Do not use a comma after a month when only the month and the year are used.
Note: If you use words like “however”, “moreover”, “therefore”, “consequently”, “nevertheless”, or “then” between two independent clauses (i.e., sentences by themselves), you must use one of the following:
A comma plus a conjunction between the two clauses
NOT, "It looked difficult, therefore, we did not try."
BUT, "It looked difficult. Therefore, we did not try."
OR, "It looked difficult; therefore, we did not try."
OR, "It looked difficult, and therefore we did not try."
This is considered a more defined pause that the pause required by a comma. Use a semi colon to separate major sentence elements of equal grammatical rank.
Use a semi-colon to separate sentences joined by logical conjunctions such as however, therefore, thus and nevertheless.
Example: “I learned all the rules and regulations; however, I never really learned to control the ball.”
It can also be used to separate two closely related sentences not joined by a conjunction. The semi colon in this instance is useful for showing contrast or balance.
Example: “Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is injustice.”
It should also be used to separate a series that is complicated or whose items containing internal punctuation (such as commas).
Example: “Please direct your comments to one of these individuals: Pat Warner, chair of the committee; Ross Ingram, public affairs; or Calvin Jenkins, promotions.”
This punctuation mark is used primarily to call attention to the words that follow it.
Use a colon after the formal salutation in a business letter. (Dear Dr. Pomeroy:)
Use a colon before a list.
Example: Bring this equipment with you: a knapsack, thick socks, gloves, etc.
Use a colon to separate hours and minute, as in 2:25.
Use an apostrophe when the meaning of “it’s” is “it is.”
(Using it’s when the word does not mean “it is” is one of the commonest mistakes in the English language.)
Use an apostrophe to show singular possession (The doctor’s office was always busy) and plural possession (The doctors’ offices were always busy).
Note: The use of an apostrophe can be determined by inserting an “of phrase,” as in “The offices of the doctors were busy.”
Use an apostrophe to show possession of two objects by two people. “Hilda’s and Janet’s cars were crushed by the falling tree.”
Use only one apostrophe when a possession is shared by two people. “Robert and Susan’s house sold in five hours.”
Use an apostrophe to show possession in words that are already plural. “The women’s changing room at the Y was being renovated.” Or, “The men’s changing room had been renovated last year.”
Use an apostrophe to show contractions. “They’re on vacation and can’t get back in time for the meeting.”
Use an apostrophe to show plural of lower case letters. “I made sure I’d dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s before I signed the contract.”
Use an apostrophe to show possession in a single compound noun. “We are living in my mother-in-law’s house until ours is finished.”
Use an apostrophe to form the possessive case of indefinite pronouns. “This election could be anyone’s win.”
Use an apostrophe in expressions of time or value: two weeks’ notice, two dollars’ worth of nuts.
People are either good spellers or they aren't. Most of us have a few words that we regularly forget how to spell. However, that doesn't mean we can't produce letters, memos and reports that are word perfect.
Here are some tips for making your documents perfect:
Use a dictionary. It doesn’t matter which form you use, but it is important that you be consistent.
Use spell check on your computer, but don’t rely on it totally.
Use a telephone book to check spelling of names and addresses. However, there are sometimes errors in telephone directories too.
Proof-read your work, and when possible have someone else proof-read your work.
Learn some little tricks to help you remember words that you use frequently but still spell incorrectly, like "i before e, except after c."
Make up a list of your most common spelling errors and learn how to spell those words correctly. Keep that list posted so you can refer to it when you need to.
Proofreading carelessly can spoil a writer's best efforts. Proofreading is classic evidence that writing looks different to the writer and to the reader.
To the writer, typographical or spelling errors don't mean all that much. So your finger slipped, or you always put two t's in "commitment." For the reader, an unfixed typo can transform the writer from a smart guy into a careless writer in the twinkling of an eye.
It is impossible to read about "fist class work" or "shot meetings" without breaking up. It may be unfair that proof-reading matters so much, but it does.
If you can put yourself in the reader's position, you'll proofread obsessively, gripped by the fear that a mistake will turn you into a laughing stock!
Proof-reading errors are different from punctuation or spelling or usage problems, and you fix them differently.
Punctuation, spelling, and usage are knowledge problems, and you fix them by learning.
Proofreading problems are usually a matter of seeing, and you fix them by learning to look.
The better you read, the worse you'll proof-read, unless you consciously are aware of what you are doing. Good readers, fast readers, guess what the words are, and they just check in now and again to see if they are right. The more they can guess, the less they have to look and the faster and better they read.
To be a good proof-reader, you have to go back to being a child again, looking at every word as it comes along. Here are some principles to guide you.
Ignore content. As soon as you start paying attention to what the text is saying, you'll start assuming and stop looking.
Assume there's at least one typo.
Forget what you meant. Read the memo/letter as though you never saw it before.
Read backwards. This destroys comprehension, and your eyes can't trick you as easily.
Don't try to do something else when you proof-read. Stop tinkering with the thing and look for errors.
Take your time. When you hurry you guess and skim, and that usually doesn't work.
Proof-read a second time, paying attention to content. This is where you find those things spell check and reading backwards did not catch, such as "The little cap pulls off it you put enough effort into it."
Read it aloud. It is more difficult, but still not impossible, for your eyes to skip over errors when you read aloud.
Try to have someone else proof-read your work, particularly if the document is important or going public.
Make proof-reading a game. Score points for yourself when you find an error!
Your colleagues may use commonly accepted abbreviations in e-mail, but when communicating with external customers, everyone should follow standard writing protocol. Your e-mail message reflects you and your company, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply.
1) Be informal, not sloppy.
2) Keep messages brief and to the point.
Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean that it has to be long. Nothing is more frustrating than wading through an e-mail message that is twice as long as necessary. Concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.
3) Use sentence case.
USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING. Using all lowercase letters looks lazy. For emphasis, use asterisks or bold formatting to emphasize important words. Do not, however, use a lot of colors or graphics embedded in your message, because not everyone uses an e-mail program that can display them.
4) Use the blind copy and courtesy
Don't use BCC to keep others from seeing who you copied; it shows confidence when you directly CC anyone receiving a copy. Do use BCC, however, when sending to a large distribution list, so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names. Be cautious with your use of CC; overuse simply clutters inboxes. Copy only people who are directly involved.
5) Don't use e-mail as an excuse to avoid
Don't forget the value of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication. E-mail communication isn't appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages. Think of the times you've heard someone in the office indignantly say, "Well, I sent you e-mail." If you have a problem with someone, speak with that person directly. Don't use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.
6) Remember that e-mail isn't private.
E-mail is considered company property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law. Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that e-mail over the Internet is not secure. Never put in an e-mail message anything that you wouldn't put on a postcard. Remember that e-mail can be forwarded, so unintended audiences may see what you've written. You might also inadvertently send something to the wrong party, so always keep the content professional to avoid embarrassment.
7) Be sparing with group e-mail.
Send group e-mail only when it's useful to every recipient. Use the "reply all" button only when compiling results requiring collective input and only if you have something to add. Recipients get quite annoyed to open an e-mail that says only "Me too!"
8) Use the subject field to indicate
content and purpose.
Don't just say, "Hi!" or "From Laura." Agree on acronyms to use that quickly identify actions. For example, your team could use <AR> to mean "Action Required" or <MSR> for the Monthly Status Report. It's also a good practice to include the word "Long" in the subject field, if necessary, so that the recipient knows that the message will take time to read.
9) Don't send chain letters, virus warnings,
or junk mail.
Always check a reputable antivirus Web site or your IT department before sending out an alarm. If a constant stream of jokes from a friend annoys you, be honest and ask to be removed from the list. Direct personal e-mail to your home e-mail account.
10) Remember that your tone can't be
heard in e-mail.
Have you ever attempted sarcasm in an e-mail, and the recipient took it the wrong way? E-mail communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication. In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons, but use them sparingly so that you don't appear unprofessional. Also, don't assume that using a smiley will diffuse a difficult message.
11) Use a signature that includes
To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your contact information, including your mailing address, Web site, and phone numbers.
12) Summarize long discussions.
Scrolling through pages of replies to understand a discussion is annoying. Instead of continuing to forward a message string, take a minute to summarize it for your reader. You could even highlight or quote the relevant passage, then include your response. Some words of caution:
If you are forwarding or reposting a message you've received, do not change the wording.
If you want to repost to a group a message that you received individually, ask the author for permission first.
Give proper attribution.
Types of Emails
Rely heavily on the "you" attitude. It is crucial in the "please do something" email to show the reader what's in it for him/her.
While you may want to use the delayed opening to strengthen your position, don't take too long getting to the point.
Give supporting reasons to justify your request.
Avoid dwelling on explanations that tell the reader how his or her cooperation will solve your problem.
Make certain you include all the details, explaining what you want the reader to do or how she should proceed.
Since you are asking the reader to do something, make it convenient for him/her to comply.
Be reassuring and cooperative. Avoid expressions of doubt like "If all goes well."
In your eagerness to persuade, be careful not to make wild promises or unsubstantiated claims.
Never beg or grovel.
End by giving the reader a picture of himself or herself doing as you ask and benefiting from it. Use words that assume he or she will comply (without, of course, sounding arrogant).
Read your correspondent's email carefully to discover what you can do to get him or her to understand your point of view.
Adapt your email in tone and content to the reader's level of understanding. Avoid the extremes of talking down to the reader or "snowing" him with technical language.
Delay your refusal. Open with an empathetic, soothing tone.
Try to agree with the reader about something in the opening. At least begin on common, neutral ground. Don't, however, mislead the reader into thinking you'll change your mind.
Generally a memo to correct an employee’s behavior is more effective if sentences begin with a word other than “you.” “You” is a word that can be easily overused.
Give a sensible, reasonable explanation for the refusal. Don't blame it on "company policy."
Whenever possible, avoid leading into the refusal with negative terms like "unfortunately."
State the refusal as positively as possible. Tell what you can do rather than what you can't.
Don't dwell on the bad news. Be clear, direct, and brief.
Give helpful suggestions when you can: Is there any way the reader can remedy the situation himself? Can you think of alternative courses he or she might explore?
Never accuse. Avoid expressions like "you state" and "your mistake."
Try to give the reader an alternative or offer any assistance you are prepared to give.
Don’t be sarcastic. Don't try to score points.
Be well reasoned and courteous.
Don't rub the reader's nose in his or her own mistakes or shortcomings. If the reader mishandled a product or situation, say briefly what he or she should have done.
End on a positive note whenever possible. Often you can express good wishes for future success.