Thursday, December 6, 2012

The following post is another short set of suggestions for basic email rules. Future posts will have more detailed rules and scenarios.

Simple Format Rules:


1)   Try to limit emails to one page.

2)   Keep paragraphs brief but avoid having many short sentences.

3)   Separate the closing.

4)   Avoid multiple font changes, color changes, font size changes, and style changes particularly in the middle of sentences.

In general, avoid parenthesis characters, unnecessary abbreviations (they save very little time). For example, pls rather than Please. Another would be tnx rather than Thank You.  Contractions “don’t” save much time (don’t or do not, can’t or cannot). Without contractions, the rendering of your text improves considerably.

Basic Content

        Basic email text is not usually the vehicle for formal documents such as proposals, legal documents, bills and so forth.  These are conveyed as attachments by the vehicle of the email itself.  When the exclusive purpose of the email is indeed the attachments, special care should be given to provide a description of what the document(s) is, the purpose of it being delivered and any other appropriate information.  Additionally any instructions, time-sensitive information or content characteristics should be noted in the text of the email.  Avoid using email for severance, bad news or salary freezes.

“The better it sounds the more it is trusted.”
Paul Babicki

        Email has significantly changed not only the ways we communicate, but it has changed some basic proclivities as well. The need, real or perceived, to compose or reply quickly to email has reduced much of the structure which defined written communication in the past.  Most senders will utilize at some point as little as one word or even an abbreviation (“FYI”, “OK”, “as discussed”) as the entire content of an email.

        In order to communicate clearly and effectively, some basic rules should apply to email sentences.  Make sure that all sentences include the necessary parts of speech.  All sentences should have at least a noun and a verb.  Instead of “OK” say, “That is good” or “I will”.  Better still use an adjective or adverb to better define a sentence.  And even better, have a direct object for your sentences when appropriate.  Notice the difference for answering a request to read a proposal:



        I will

        I will definitely read.

        I will read it. (pronoun)

And best of all use a noun “I will read the proposal.” 
Using articles also enhances your communication.  One of the most abandoned aspects of writing and grammar is the use of the article:  “Please read attached” is written better when you say “please read the attached.”

Unacceptable short emails:

1.       Sure.

2.       You bet.

3.       You're wrong.

4.       No way.

5.       Sorry.

6.       Forget it.                         

7.       Any stand alone emoticon  

8.       Nope.

9.       A single word abbreviation, ASAP, etc.

10.    Common acronyms USPS, etc.