EWS Blog

Nov 20, 2017

4 Best Practices for Writing an Email

Flat cartoon of email reaching a diverse audience
It’s said that communication is key, but there can’t be communication where there is no conversation. While the ever-evolving world of mobile technology has continuously seen new social media platforms and apps rise to and fall from prominence, there is one electronic tool that has stayed relevant to both the business and the personal world: email. If communication is key, then understanding how to write a purposeful and attention-grabbing email is key to communication.

Know Your Audience
It’s important to know just who you’re communicating with. You wouldn’t necessarily speak to your boss quite the same way as you would your best friend, and you likely wouldn’t communicate with either in the same fashion as a complete stranger.

Know who you’re talking to and what kind of tone you’d like to set. If you’re sending a formal email to a colleague or business partner, it’s probably best to maintain a serious tone and steer clear of more casual touches such as emojis. Just don’t be too afraid to adapt to the recipient’s style either.

Write a Compelling Subject Line
Unless your reader is expecting an email from you and knows what it’s about, the subject line will be an important tool to help him or her identify what your message entails before opening it. 

Compelling subject lines will increase the likelihood of someone opening your email, and keeping the subject on message will help both you and the recipient find the email again should there be a need to refer back to it. 

Read, Review, Repeat
You may be done writing your email, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to hit send. Look everything over to check for spelling/grammatical errors, continuity, factual errors, and excessive or missing content. You don’t want to have to send a follow-up email explaining yourself or adding information that belonged in the initial email if you can avoid it. Likewise, you shouldn’t be drowning your reader in excess information that adds little value to your message.

Use, But Don’t Abuse Spellcheck
In this day and age spell-checking software is practically a given. From word processors to web browsers, chances are that when you’re typing you have some sort of automated program to let you know when you’ve spelled a word incorrectly. These tools can be a great help, but just because they’re automatic don’t assume they’re infallible.

While a spell-checker can often tell you when you’ve spelled a word incorrectly, it can also completely misunderstand what you were trying to say, whether by assuming you were trying to spell a similar, but different word or simply not recognizing the term you typed at all. If your spell-check tells you that something’s amiss then go ahead and take a look, but don’t just replace your word with the first suggestion to pop up–it might be incorrect and you may have been right all along. 

An old saying states that "there’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting," and this is never truer than when writing an email. Everyone makes mistakes, what’s important is catching those errors before you send your email rather than after.