Everyone these days seems to have a smartphone, tablet or laptop—if not all three. The proliferation of screens in our everyday lives has basically led to the pervasion of email as a major form of communication. Everyone—from academics to business people, from motorcycle repairmen to computer programmers—needs to be able to write convincingly and intelligibly.
There really is no way around it.
A well-written email, whether it is two lines long or a 14-page report, reflects competence and aptitude. It can be frustrating and hard at certain moments, and definitely time-consuming, but worth all the effort in the end—especially after a good round of editing.
It really doesn’t require much to write a good email. A few basic writing tips and language rules, along with practice and some patience, can help you perfect the art of writing for professionals. The formula is rather simple, follow the four Cs: be CLEAR
, and CORRECT
. 1. Keep it simple.
Most business people get dozens of emails a day and are not interested in reading prose and poetry. Keep your message clear
by using simple language and sticking to the topic at hand. Don’t use big words, jargon, foreign phrases and figures of speech that can complicate and obscure meaning. Be concrete. The simpler and more forthcoming the language, the better.2. Get to the point.
Keep in mind that most people check their inbox in between meetings and when on the run. They need to be able to skim your note and get to the gist of what you’re saying rather quickly. Be concise
and to the point. Avoid over explanation and repetition. Bullet points can also be helpful when outline and listing ideas.3. Be polite.
Sometimes brevity can be read and interpreted as curt and rather impolite. It is important that you remember to be considerate
. If you say “please” and “thank you” when talking with colleagues, don’t forget to include them in your emails. Rude
: Send me the annual report by noon.
Polite: Please send me the annual report by noon. Thank you.
Two simple phrases make all the difference. 4. Proofread.
Don’t hit send before correcting
your work! Be ruthless about self-editing. Even the smallest of mistakes can give off the wrong impression. You really won’t regret the extra few minutes of work. Make sure to omit needless phrases, skim for missing words, use active verb tenses and check spelling.