Why Proper Email Writing is Critical

Email is the most prevalent way we communicate every day. Recently, with the increase use of texting, tweeting, and instant messaging, many people have forgotten how to write a proper email. Multiple researches have been conducted with teenagers’ use of texting and how this affects their grammatical skills.

Email is a tool for communication. The intention of this tool is to write properly so that the other party understands and communicates back with a meaningful response. I have seen emails go back and forth over 10 times, because the parties did not understand each other. It causes a lot of frustration, and everyone loses productivity; email is supposed to increase productivity.

There are multiple causes for poor email writing. One of them is the general lack of knowledge about grammar. Basic writing skills need to be enforced and taught. Many people ‘skid’ by their English classes without understanding the basic rules of grammar. Harvard Business Review found that billions of dollars are spent by large companies to educate their workforce on grammar.

Then, there is spelling. Even with the spell checker, misspelled words are typed and unchecked. Until the recent explosion of email, texting, tweeting, etc, to do business, you had to talk to people or meet them face to face. Not a lot of writing was exchanged unless it was a formal letter or a contract written by attorneys. With all the informal use of other media, people are writing much more than ever, and their relaxed or grammatically incorrect writing style causes misunderstanding, frustration, and ultimately, loss of business.

When you write an email, here are some basic considerations to remember.

1) Who is the recipient of your email and what tone do you NEED to use? Are you writing to a friend, partner, customer, or co-worker?
2) What messages are you trying to convey about yourself? Does the recipient perceive you as uneducated because of your poor writing style? Does the recipient think that you are angry or unreasonable? Does the recipient feel like you can be trusted?

You are telling the recipient email1and1 a lot about yourself when you write an email. It is not just about the words. It’s about the tone of the message, how well the email is written, and how personable the email is.

Poorly written sentences are very distracting. It is difficult to read an email with bad grammar, spelling errors, and slang. When writing a business email, remove slang from writing. Typically, slang words are regionalized. Words that North-easterners use are completely confusing to Southerners and vice versa. It is more confusing if English is not your first language. When you work with International customers, slang words do not translate at all. The meaning of the email is lost, and the purpose of email, to communicate properly, is missed. Use Standard English that reflects the correct meaning for your industry.

Beyond basic grammar, long sentences or lack of sentence structure confuses the message. You have to read it over and over again to understand what the person is trying to say. Use short sentences to convey your messages quickly and succinctly.

When writing an email, organize your thoughts before typing. Think through what you want to say and make sure that the email is readable. Add spaces where necessary and group your thoughts in small blocks. Long emails lose people.

Before clicking on the “send” button, re-read your email for the right tone and emotion. If it sounds condescending, uncaring, or angry, leave it as a draft email until you can convey the right message. The email can be formal or informal depending on whom you are sending the email to.

If you are using acronyms, make sure to spell out what the acronym stands for so that the reader understands what you are saying. Email is about communicating. If you look in the dictionary, communication is defined as, “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.” You have not imparted any information if the recipient does not understand your acronyms.

Beyond writing, there are other rules of etiquette to consider.

If the sender has copied people on the note, when you reply, copy others on the note. When the emails have multiple replies, leave the message threads for everyone to read so that you can recall the previous conversations easily. The caveat to this is when the topic changes and you are still using the same subject and thread. Remove the old message threads and update the “subject” field.

Be careful when using “reply, forward or reply all”. Make sure that you are sending the email to the intended recipient. Before you click the “send” button, review the email addresses.

Many people have sent emails to the wrong person/people. Depending on the contents of the email, it has caused people to get fired, has tremendously embarrassed the sender, and created public relations nightmare for companies. In the worst case scenario, it has caused lawsuits.

Reply emails within a day, unless you are out of town and have an “out of office” message set.

Users expect an instantaneous response because of texting and instant messaging.