20 tips for writing better emails

Published on December 30, 2013 by in Writing tips


By Jennigay Coetzer

  • 20 email writing tips

    Do you ever have to send two or three emails before you get your point across or resolve an issue?



  • When sending an email to a specific person, always address him or her by name, and not just say “Hi” or nothing. People like to feel special and be treated as individuals.
  • Have a conversation with the person you are sending the email to, and think about what they want to hear and not just what you want to tell them.
  • Keep emails as short as possible with the most important points upfront, because there is a good chance the recipient will not read everything you’ve written if it means paging down.
  • When responding to an email, read what the sender has written carefully first and try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are expecting from your response.
  • Treat your email interaction as an important aspect of an ongoing relationship.
  • When requesting some sort of action or response to your email, do so clearly and concisely to avoid misunderstandings.
  • When addressing a complaint or request by email, make sure that what is important to the reader is covered upfront – today people are looking for instant gratification. So if your response requires an apology, write this at the beginning, not at the end, and don’t go on the defensive and make excuses or tell the recipient how your company prides itself on its service excellence. That will just add fuel to the fire if they are already angry and frustrated about the bad service they have experienced.
  • When promoting something or selling something include a call to action at the end – e.g. “Is this something that would interest you?” or “When would it be convenient to discuss your specific requirements in more detail?”, etc.
  • Whatever the case, stay focused, get to the point, be concise, don’t be vague, don’t be clever – be clear, no preamble when writing a sentence, and remember that less words = more impact.
  • Create a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what you are saying, not an incomplete jigsaw puzzle that could result in them making assumptions or cause misunderstandings.
  • To be more spontaneous, try saying what you want to say out loud before writing it.
  • Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say?” say it, and then write it.
  • Make sure you have checked all the facts.
  • Be objective. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and ask yourself if what you have written will be easily understood.
  • When responding to an email make sure you have answered any questions that have been asked.
  • Make sure what you have written is not open to misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
  • Tighten up the copy and get rid of superfluous words without reducing the value of the content.
  • Fewer words = greater impact.
  • Don’t be sloppy – i.e. spelling mistakes and bad grammar.
  • Ask yourself whether all the punctuation you have used in the email is necessary and in the right places.

Note: Many of the tips above apply to any form of writing.

Jennigay CoezerJennigay Coetzer is a  freelance writer, author and trainer. Email her at jennigay@icon.co.za  for more information about her upcoming writing workshops or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not? can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za.

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