How to Improve an Email Writing Style

Improve an Email Writing Style
Improve an Email Writing Style (Image: Courtesy of Morguefile)

Your emails say a lot about you. More than that, an email may be the first and only indication people get of your professionalism, temperament and personality. Put your best foot forward the next time you compose an email, and be sure that what you're saying represents your thoughts and ideas and not your bad communication skills, sloppy editing practices or poor grammar.

Use full sentences. You may have a free flowing style that works well with phrases held together with dashes, but you'll have a better chance of being understood if you use full sentences. Written language has evolved the way it has for a reason. Take advantage of its power by learning to use it.

Avoid full caps. In Internet parlance, full caps are the equivalent of shouting, screaming and waiving your hands wildly. If this isn't what you're aiming for, leave the caps lock alone.

Slow down. What you send out into cyberspace stays there, so slow down and think about what you're writing. Take a second to get your thoughts in order before you start. If you want to get it right, consider making a brief outline of what you want to say first. The clearer you are, the better. Remember, this isn't a face-to-face conversation where you can clarify things on the fly.

Have a beginning and an end. This isn't a letter, but take a tip from letter writers everywhere and give your emails some structure. They don't have to be long, but they should provide a smooth introduction to your topic and a graceful close.

Reread your email before you send it. What you wrote may not be what you intended to say, and what you intended to say might not be what you meant, so take a minute to reread the text of your email for clarity.

Avoid overusing adverbs, adjectives and long sentences. For the sake of easy reading and a transparent exchange of ideas, keep it simple.

Lose the acronyms. Every industry has them, and the alphabet soup acronyms provide is an easy crutch to rely on, but at some point, they start to make your language more confusing, so be careful.

Take advantage of punctuation. If you're using a dash or ellipsis because you don't know whether to put a comma in the sentence or not, you're wrong in thinking no one will realize your knowledge of grammar is weak. Buy a good grammar reference and use it. Knowing how to lay out a sentence well will help you communicate better, and everyone can use a little of that.

Use spell check. Before you push send, check your spelling. Use the spell checker in your email software, but don't stop there. Words like there and their won't be caught in a check, so go over it manually too.

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