Write Clear Emails and Get Clear Replies
Email. What would you do without it? You rely on email at work and at home. Sometimes, however, you get a reply that makes no sense. When you read it you say, "Huh?"
The recipient may have missed your point because he or she was in a hurry. He or the may miss attachments for the same reason. You can wait weeks for a reply from someone who does not check email regularly. These tips will help you write clear emails and get clear replies.
1. Cite a specific subject. Avoid generalities like "news." Type something specific, like "Citizens for Clean Air and Water."
2. Write "short." Do not get lost in a word wilderness. Be concise, stick to the facts, and stay on topic.
3. Note attachments. Let's say you're writing a grant and want your supervisor to review it. Your approach: "The grant application is attached. Please note section C."
4. Bold key words, phrases, and sentences. For example, you would type "The grant application deadline is July 16th" in bold.
5. Add headings. Sometimes you have to send a long email. Headings will help the reader follow your logic and remember your points.
6. bullet points. It's easier to bullet information than put it in sentence form. Write one or two lead-in sentences before you star your bullet list.
7. Add color. No doubt about it, color gets the reader's attention. Choose a color that compliments your message. Blue representations reliability, for example. Green represents growth and money. Red representations exclusion and power.
8. Add links. Internet links – additional information for the reader – are time-savers. The recipient can log onto the link and read the information at their leisure.
9. Ask for action. You may do this at the beginning, the end, or both. An example of an action request: This brochure goes to the printer on Friday, ______ (date). Please review it today and get back to me with your suggestions.
10. Say thanks. Your thank you does not have to be elaborate, but it has to be there. "Thanks for your help. I always enjoy working with you."
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson