10 Tips for Writing and Sending Email

I wrote this list in October of 2006.  At that time people were not concerned about email hacking.  Today this list is even more important.  If you want to be happy at work you don’t want an email giving your unedited negative review of your boss or your company to get into the hands of your boss.  Here is the list of email writing tips that I wrote 10 years ago.  Use it to manage yourself when writing email. The last line of my introduction in 2006 was, “Remember your email could end up in the wrong hands so be careful.” At the time it seemed a remote possibility but today we know it happens.

  1.  Compose carefully. Think about what you want to say before dashing off a message.   Some people ramble on and on. Others in their haste are not clear.  Ask yourself: Will the reader understand this?
  2. Be aware of the tone. Consider the tone of the email.  Could someone misinterpret it?  Never write an email when you are angry.  Wait until you have settled down before you write it.  If you are unsure, let someone else look at your response.
  3. Proof read.  Be sure you have written what you meant to say. A misspelled word or incorrect punctuation can change your meaning. Read the book Eat, Shoots and Leaves for more on this topic
  4. Keep it private.  Do not deliver private information via email.  Most people know you should not send credit card information in email but one manager of a friend delivered his appraisal of her work in email and it wasn’t complimentary! Remember email can be forwarded.  Do not say anything that you don’t want the world to know! 2016 addition-Amen to that!
  5. Corporate email.  Reread your email and assume your boss will be reading it.  Email is not confidential and in a corporate setting the company has a right to read it. Use Yahoo or Hotmail for personal email. 2016 addition:  Have your own personal gmail account or use one from your home internet provider.  Be extra safe and don’t use the company internet either.  Company owners and executives can read what is on their servers.
  6. Stop shouting. Don’t write in all capital letters.  That is considered shouting on the Internet. 2016 addition: I have heard people say they got a headache from reading an all caps email.  Really!?
  7. Check “To:” before you hit send.  It is so easy to put in the wrong address or hit “reply all” when you meant to hit “reply”.  Avoid embarrassment.
  8. BCC not CC.  If you are sending email to a group, keep the addresses of the group private by using BCC. Don’t inadvertently give out someone else’s email.  Some people want to keep their email addresses private because there is so much spam today and they also don’t want to be open for viruses.  Honor their wishes sending them a copy that is BCC.  This allows you to send to a list without revealing everyone on the list.  They see only their own email address.
  9. Fonts, colors, bolding and italics.  Don’t use unusual fonts, color, bolding or italics. 2016 addition:  colors, bolding and italics are ok today but unusual fonts can be a problem. These don’t always translate the same way in different email systems and could show up as coding to some people.
  10. No subject.   Be sure to put a subject in your email.  Everyone today gets so much email.  If you want to be sure that yours is read, include a compelling subject so the reader opens your mail.
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