E-mail is one of the most common forms of written communication in the business world. Unfortunately, it is also the most commonly abused. Due to the social media boom and limited character communication, professionalism and formalities have fallen through for writing professional e-mails. Many do not realize that each medium of communication has a different set of rules to follow, especially when speaking to different audiences.
Today, I would like to focus on writing effective emails. In any professional setting, you need to make sure your e-mails sound professional and well-mannered. Below are 4 tips you should keep in mind the next time you compose an e-mail.
1. Starting an E-mail Correctly
Your email should open by addressing the person you’re writing to. A business-like email message should begin with:
- “Dear Mr. Jones” or “Dear Professor Smith” for someone you don’t know well, especially if they’re a superior.
- “Dear Joe” or “Dear Mandy” if you have a working relationship with the person.
- It is fine to use “Hi Joe” or “Hello Joe”, if you know the person well.
2. Writing the Content
It is important to remember an email is not a letter. Get straight to the point and don’t waste any time waffling. Split your email into two to four short paragraphs. Also, make it easy for your reader to see the importance of your email by stating your main point in the opening sentence and being concise throughout. If they have to read the whole email to find your main point, chances are it won’t be read thoroughly or at all. For more information consider the article, “Writing Effective Email: Making Sure Your Messages Get Read and Acted Upon.”
3. Checking Your Work
Don’t forget to use the spell check tool. Make sure your email has correct spelling and proper grammar. Also, eliminate the slang and abbreviations so others can understand you. This section sounds obvious, but if you’re use to using abbreviations and slang everywhere else, you’ll end up using it in your emails without even realizing it. So make sure you proof read your email before sending it off.
4. Courteous Sign Off
For short internal company emails, you can get away with just putting a double space after your last paragraph and then typing your name. If you’re writing a more formal email, though, it is essential to close appropriately. Consider the sign offs below:
- Use “Yours sincerely” when you know the name of your addressee.
- Use “Yours faithfully” when you’ve addressed it to “Dear Sir/Madam”
- In most other situations you can sign off with “Best regards” or “Kind regards”
So the next time you write an email, keep these tips in mind so your reader and especially any potential employer can understand you and take you seriously.
Candy Sanchez is an undergraduate student attending the University of South Florida. She is majoring in accounting and finance. She hopes to graduate soon and become an excellent public accountant.