Introduction to Business Writing: Effective Business EmailsKerri Gaston
Before writing the email Make a plan!Think about the purpose of the emailThink about the person who will read the email andhow you want him or her to react Make an outline or list of the main points and details you want to include in the emailDouble check any facts, dates, times, or other specificdetails that will be included in the email
Things to consider when doing business correspondence
Who are you writing to and what is your relationship with the person?If the person you are writing to is in a higher position than you,your email should use more formal language than if theperson is someone in the same level position than you.If you have never met the person receiving your emailbefore, you should use formal language in the first emailto him or her.Once you have sent the first email and received a reply, youcan choose to continue using formal language or choose touse less formal language in future emails.
What is the situation? Think about the reason you are sending the email and decide if formal or informal language is better.If you are requesting a service or asking a favor, you shoulduse formal language.If you are making a complaint, you should use strong wordsto express your dissatisfaction or problem but you must bepolite.If you are introducing yourself, you should use formallanguage but you can use words or phrases that let yourpersonality show through as well. If you are writing a customer relation letter, you should use formal language.
What do you want to accomplish? Think about the reason for writing the email and what you want the person who receives the email to do with it.If you want the receiver to do something for you, make itclear. Tell the receiver exactly what action you want done.Tell the receiver if no action needs to be taken.If you want the receiver to respond by a certain date, writethe response date.If you are negotiating or rearranging a meeting, write yourdemands or available times clearly.
Some things to remember when writing business emails
Get right to the point Don’t use unnecessary words and phrases that distract from the main idea of the email or may confuse the readerThe person reading your email does not have a lot of time toread your email so you must make it as direct as possible.Make the reason for writing the email clear at the beginningand only add details that are directly related to the topic of theemail.
Use simple sentencesAvoiding difficult or complex sentence structures will helpyou avoid grammar mistakes.Simple sentences will make the email easier for yourreader to understand, especially if the person reading theemail is not a native English speaker.
Pay attention to word choiceRemember that writing, is a form of indirectcommunication. Unlike having a conversation withsomeone, you do not have a chance to clarifyyourself by restating your ideas or use nonverbalcues to make your meaning clear. You have tomake sure your reader understands what you wantto say and gets the right “message” the first time.
Think about how the email might be perceived by thereader. Are there any words or phrases that may make thetone seem angry, flippant, or disrespectful?Avoid trying to make a joke or say something funny in anemail. Sometimes what you think is funny might bemisunderstood by the reader and create a bad relationship.Use words that are specifically related to the topic but defineany words or phrases that you think the reader might not befamiliar with, especially words that are specific to a certaintype of job, field of study, or product.
The subject of the email Always write the subject of the email on the subject lineRemember that business people often receive hundreds ofemails every day. If you don’t write the subject in the subjectline the person receiving the email might think it is SPAM orjunk email and delete the message. If the subject isn’t clearthey might delete the email as well, so make sure the subjectis direct-don’t use too many words.
The four Parts of a business emailThe Opening Tells the reader why you are writingThe Focus Tells the details about the topic The Action Tells what you want to happen and gives a time frameThe Closing Thank the reader and mention future communication