Email Quick Tips: Compose, Format, Organize

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When dealing with email communication I am frequently stunned by the lack of professionalism that I encounter.

Many times I receive emails that have no salutation or sign-off and no capitalization, grammar or sentence structure.

If these habits continue when the sender enters the workforce he/she will find that it will have a significant and negative impact on his/her career prospects.

You will find that if you take the time to write accurate, concise and respectful emails that you will be perceived in a better light and will likely receive more positive and helpful responses.

Secondly, if you develop a strategy for effectively managing the emails that you receive, you will waste less time and be responsive, organized and less stressed.

Here are some tips to help you create a professional image and manage your email:

Compose

When writing emails it is always best to err on the side of formality. Professional emails should include accurate punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, grammar and spelling.

If you are not sure how to address someone, start with the most formal option eg. Dear Ms. Smith, then wait for the reply to determine how to address further correspondence.

For professional communication emoticons, abbreviations and slang acronyms like LOL are too informal.

Insert the receiver’s address last. This ensures that you do not accidentally send an incomplete email or forget an attachment. This is particularly important when dealing with a sensitive topic. Better yet, if a topic is sensitive, don’t send an email go and talk directly to the person in order to avoid a misreading of your tone or intent.

Format

Avoid the use of wallpaper or colourful fonts that are distracting and slow down the receiver’s ability to process the message.

When it comes to font type and size stick with the basic serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, or sans serif, such as Arial, in the 10- to 11-point range.

Reread messages before sending. This allows you to check the tone and content of the message from the reader’s perspective and enables you to catch mistyped words such as god instead of good that will not be caught by your spell checker. An articulate, concise and accurate email tells others that you are intelligent, professional and detail oriented.

Organize

Keep your inbox clean. Use electronic folders to archive messages that you may need to refer to in the future. Keep the inbox for current items that you need to deal with. This will help you feel organized and less overwhelmed and stressed.

Open an email once. Don’t waste your time by reading an email and then leaving it to sit because you don’t feel like answering it only to have to return to the same email later. Have a one-touch policy for each email: open it, answer it and then delete or file it.

What’s your best email tip? Share it below!

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About the author

Clare Tattersall is the Manager of Career Development and Community Based Learning at Huron University College at Western University in London, Ont. She oversees the international exchange and internship programs, offers career counseling and development appointments and workshops, and has developed and implemented a co-curricular certificate in Leadership and Professional Development. Clare holds a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature and has over 10 years of experience in the communications sector and post-secondary administration.