Ten Tips for Effective E-mail Writing

1. Think before you write. Just because you can send information faster than ever before, it does not mean that you should send it. Analyze your readers' needs to make certain that you are sending a message that will be both clear and useful.

2. Remember that you can always deny that you said it. But if you write it, you may be held accountable for many, many moons. You may be surprised to find where your message ends up (as an example of "What Not To Do" in our writing class?).

3. Keep your message concise. Remember that the screen only shows about half of a hard-copy page. Save longer messages and formal reports for regular (snail ) or overnight mail. On the other hand, do not keep your message so short that the reader has no idea what you re talking about. Begin long email messages with summaries.

4. Remember that email is not necessarily confidential. Many companies retain the right to monitor employees' messages. (Refer to #1 and #2.) Do not send anything you would not be comfortable seeing published in your company's newsletter (or your community's newspaper).

5. Do not "flame" (send hostile messages to) your readers. It is unprofessional to lose control in person; to do so in writing makes any situation worse. (Refer to #2 and #4.)

6. Don't "spam" your readers. Don't send them unnecessary or frivolous messages. Soon, they'll quit opening any message from you. (Refer to #1.)

7. DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS! IT LOOKS LIKE FLAMING! Remember, if you emphasize everything, you will have emphasized nothing.

8. do not type in all lower case (unless you are e.e. cummings). if you violate the rules of english grammar and usage, you make it difficult for the reader to read.

9. Use the Subject line to get the reader's attention. Replace vague lines ("Information on XYZ Project," or "Status Report Q1" ) with better hooks : Exciting Career Opportunity, Serious Problems with the New Veeblefetzer, or Free Money.

10. Take the time to poofread your document before you sent it. Rub thedocument thru the spell checker and/or the grammer checker. Even simpl tipos will make you look sloppie and damage you re proffessional credubility.

1996, Ellen Dowling, PhD