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EFFECTIVE E-MAIL WRITING

AVOID THE FOLLOWING IN YOUR E-MAILS


1. Wrong time and date
It can be very confusing if your computer doesnt have the correct time and date set. Help
to keep track of your messages, and help everyone else too, by setting the time and date
correctly.
2. Vague subject line
Readers with huge inboxes will not open your Urgent or Enquiry. Compose a SMART
subject line:
S pecific
M eaningful
A ppropriate
R elevant
T houghtful
Note: What you put in your subject line can often mean the difference between whether
your message is read right now, today, tomorrow, next week or never.
3. No greeting and no sign off
Many people dislike receiving messages without these courtesies. There are 2 main
reasons for a greeting (Hello Sam, Hi Sam, Der Mr Tan). Firstly it is just plain courteous,
and secondly its confirmation to the reader that the message is for them and not just a cc
or bcc. Two good reasons for a sign off are firstly again for courtesy, and secondly it is
confirmation that the message is finished.
4. Poor formatting
Readers get confused when a message is very long but there are no paragraphs. Messages
can become garbled if you do not think and format the paragraphs. Help your reader and
help yourself by formatting your messages by putting a blank space between paragraphs.
5. Vague messages
Reader complain that many of the messages that they receive are vague and are unsure of
the reason of the e-mail. Take some time to compose your message carefully, then check
through to make sure it is reader-friendly, then have a last check before you send it.

6. Hunting for the response


Again linked with 4 and 5, if a message becomes garbled and poorly structured, the
reader will need to read the message a few times and then left wondering what response
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is required. Remember the 3 Rs you must guide your reader towards the Response
expected, otherwise you can never be sure of achieving the right Results.
7. Unfriendly tone
Emotions are hard to convey in e-mails, and some people type out exactly what they
would say without thinking of the tone of voice that would be used to signal their
emotions. With e-mail all we have are words. Without the right tone, misunderstandings
could easily happen or you could offend and perhaps lose an important business contactor even a friend. Good writers learn to choose their words carefully and get the tone just
right.
8. CC to the whole world
It has now become really easy to cc anyone and everyone. This results in overflowing
inboxes and a lot of time wasted. So send a cc only to people who need to know, not to
everyone you know.
9. Bad grammar, spelling and punctuation
As more people use e-mail, sloppy work is becoming a major annoyance. People are
receiving poorly formatted messages in one continuous messages paragraph, poorly
structured messages that are not specific in the response required, messages written in
ALL capitals which is equivalent to SHOUTING or all in lower case, and of course
messages with poor grammar, spelling and punctuation.
10. Just plain SLOPPY
Most people complained of the need to reply immediately to e-mails just because they are
e-mails. Because of this urgency, many writers are not taking as much care. Rushed
messages often become garbled, spelling errors creep in, the structure doesnt flow right.
Readers dont understand the messages that they receive or are offended by them. The
messages are plain sloppy and the message that the reader gets is that the writer has no
RESPECT for the reader. Take some time to read your message before you send it.

UNDERSTAND THE DEGREE OF INFORMALITY IN E-MAILS


E-mail is an informal method of communication. Generally, to be informal means using
colloquial words and phrases, intentional sentence fragments, abbreviations, acronyms, a
conversational tone and a breezy style. All of these are conventions you may use in speaking
face-to-face with some one and they may be appropriate in specific types of e-mail. On the other
hand, being informal does not mean using unclear, imprecise and incomplete thoughts,
ambiguous references, irrelevant details, disorganized ideas, repetitive information, misspelled
words and grammatical errors. Successful e-mail demonstrates thinking process of the writer. To
convey your thoughts clearly and effectively is the most important skill. This ability to organize
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and express your ideas clearly is perhaps the most important skill you must possess. Your
communication ability reflects your competence.

TIPS ON EFFECTIVE E-MAILS


4 POINT PLAN
Many communication are short and routine. You can write or dictate them without any special
thinking or preparation. However, documents that are not so routine need more thought and
careful planning. This structure provides a useful but simple framework for structuring all
written communication.

Why are you writing? Refer to a previous letter, contact


or document

INTRODUCTION
(Background and Basics)

Give information/instructions. Ask for information.


Provide all relevant details Separate into paragraphs
ensure logical flow.

DETAILS
(Facts and Figures)

RESPONSE OR ACTION
(Conclusion)

CLOSE
( A simple one-liner)

Action the reader should take


Action you will take
Give a deadline if necessary

Sometimes all that is needed is a simple oneline closing sentence

4 POINT PLAN
From
:

Alexander Wee

Date 12.10.2010
To
Suzie
CC
Subje 24 th Aniversary Video
ct
Dear Suzie
INTRO

DETAILS

ACTION

Thank you for inviting me to visit your studios last


week. I was most impressed by your new facilities.
I am delighted that you can accept our invitation
to produce a video to celebrate the companys 25 th
anniversary. This is a very special landmark in our
history and it is important that this video portrays
both past, present and future.
You promised to let me have a draft outlining your
thoughts for this special video. I look forward to
receiving this before 30 October together with
your approximate costings.
If you need any further information please give me
a call on 21876578

CLOSE

Best wishes

Alexander Wee
Marketing Manager
ST Electronics

E-mail

From
Date

thomas@supersura.com
10.07.05

To

lilichee@gmail.com

CC

richard@ supersura.com

Subject
INTRODUCTI
ON

DETAILS

ACTION

ACTION

Eating for Health Campaign

Dear Lily,
It was good to meet you again last week. As
discussed, I would like to invite you to give the
opening speech at the launch of our Healthy Eating
Campaign. This will be held at our Leeds superstore
on Monday 8 August.
Richard and I are very excited about this campaign.
We are hoping it would make the public more aware
of the importance of choosing a variety of fresh fruit
and vegetables as part of their daily diet.
I am attaching a provisional programme, from which
you will see that 10 minutes has been allocated for
the opening speech at 9.30 am .We will be happy to
arrange your transport to and from our superstore
on launch day.
I know that your high profile in this industry, would
bring the crowds flocking to this launch. We hope
you will decide to join us.
Best wishes
Georgia Thomas
Marketing Manager
Aurora Superstores Ltd.

following up a meeting

E-mail where tone is important


Read the e-mail and consider how you would feel if
you were the recipient.
From
Date
To

sallyturner@mmmu.edu.my
12/02/10
johnwong@wronglay.com
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Subject

REMINDER

John
Appreciate if you could consider and bear in mind that I am no
longer responsible for dealing with petty cash. Some of your
staffs keep bringing their vouchers to me, but this responsibility
has been taken over by Martin in Accounts, he is the one who
should be contacted henceforth for all petty cash matters.
Your co-operation is appreciated in making sure all your staffs
know about this.
BRgs/Sally

From
Date
To
Subject

sallyturner@mmmu.edu.my
12/02/10
johnwong@wronglay.com
REMINDER

John
The wording is very abrupt
and harsh

henceforth is very old


fashioned

Appreciate if you would consider and bear


in mind that I am no longer responsible
for dealing with petty cash. Some of your
staffs keep bringing their vouchers to me,
but this responsibility has been taken
over by Martin in Accounts, he is the one
who should be contacted henceforth for
all petty cash matters.

This close is very abrupt,


and staff does not have
an s

Your co-operation is appreciated in


making sure all your staffs know about
this.

The comma should be a


full stop.
This statement is sure to
cause aggravation

BRgs/Sally
Dont be lazy with
your closings

Here is the same e-mail written in a more appropriate tone

From
Date
To
Subject

sallyturner@mmmu.edu.my
12/02/10
johnwong@wronglay.com
REMINDER

Hi John
Some of the staff from your department are still bringing their
petty cash vouchers to me. However this responsibility was
taken over by Martin in Accounts last month.
Please inform your staff that they should deal with Martin in
future.
Thanks for your help John
Sally

From:
Date
To
CC
Subject
hi Linda

Some
bad things
points that
need
to u,
be its
avoided!
Hope
r well
with
good 2 know that u will be back in Malaysia again
in nov to hold your seminar on effective biz writing. PLS LET ME HAVE SOME
FREE DATE WHILE U R OVER HERE. some bookstores r interested ina talk cum
singing event, I hope u will agree to take part
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tnks&rgds
Halim

The subject line is poor. Be specific


Hi can be used but use a capital letter
Abbreviations like the above are only suitable for mobile phone text messages, not for
your e-mails
Use capital letters
Dont abbreviate, and do use initial capital letters
Capitals is like shouting, and considered rude
Check your spelling- signing
Avoid abbreviations (tnks&rgds) like this at the close

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