Writing an e-mail may seem simple. Anyone can type out an e-mail and send it without a fleeting thought, but this comes with its fair share of pitfalls. It is especially important for people in business to know how to construct an e-mail. When well-written, e-mails ensure effective communication between both colleagues and customers.
Therefore, it’s important to be aware of these 7 unwritten rules when writing e-mails, to avoid common mistakes.
Keep it short (but not too short)
Finding a healthy balance when writing e-mails is an essential skill to harness. Try to keep your messages short whenever possible, eliminating any additional information which is not vital to the conversation. On the other hand, do not reply with one-liners, as these may make the reader think you are unprofessional or simply not bothered to write a decent reply.
Use a clear subject line
Create a professional subject line to draw attention to your e-mail in a busy inbox. Suitable punctuation is important – the overuse of upper case, or no punctuation at all, can result in your e-mail being mistakenly detected as spam and never read. Write a subject line that directly relates to the content of your message.
Bonus tip: Do not continue using the same thread if your conversation strays away from the initial subject. Compose a new thread with a new, more fitting subject.
Know your boundaries
The tone of your writing should be kept as clean and professional as possible. Keep your audience in mind, to get an idea of how informal you should be. With the absence of facial expressions and body language, a message can be easily misinterpreted if written too casually. Avoid slang, and only use humour sparingly in your e-mails to steer clear of confusion.
Keep your readers in mind
Do not be too quick to answer using ‘Reply All’. Before doing this, think if all the people in the conversation need to read your e-mail, be it for reasons of privacy or relevance. If you see that your e-mail is not fit for everyone’s eyes, refrain from using ‘Reply All’ and only send it to the relevant people in a separate thread.
Be quick to answer
A person sending an e-mail will always appreciate a swift reply. Check your inbox frequently, and answer whenever you can. If you need to check in with other people before answering, write up a short message to the sender informing him or her that you will soon get back to them.
Finish off with a signature
An e-mail is never complete without a proper closing, and a signature is an efficient and reliable way to end your message. It provides basic information about your position and contact information. This makes reaching you easier, and also serves as a short introduction about you to those who read your e-mail.
Proofreading is key
An all-important aspect of e-mail writing is proofreading whatever you write. Grammatical and spelling mistakes come across as negligent and might put off the reader. Know the common syntax mistakes you make, and take extra care to look out for them before sending an e-mail.
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