Writing Business Emails, What To Do And What Not To Do

What to do when writing business emails

  1. Begin your email with a salutation. Avoid rushing into the reason why you wrote the email, without formally acknowledging the reader. If you are familiar with the recipient, a "Hi Sydney" or "Dear Juliet" would be fine. Avoid Using “Hey,” “Yo,” or “Hiya” as it isn’t professional. Also, remember not to shorten a person’s name unless given permission to do so.
  2. Make the email short and straight to the point – A business email should be simple and straight to the point. If possible, avoid multisyllabic words, descriptive clauses, and long paragraphs. Never write more than what can be typed on one page. Limit the line length to around 70 characters across. Long emails can make the recipient attention before reaching the end.
  3. Thoroughly proofread your e-mail before sending it. Even when you are in a hurry to send the email, proofread it at least twice to rid it of typos and grammatical errors. Typos and grammatical errors makes you look unprofessional to the recipient. Some errors can even change the meaning of the message. Spell the recipient’s names correctly. Mind your spell checker. Spell checkers have a tendency of turning unfamiliar and non-English names into proper nouns.
  4. Always include your "signature" at the end of your email. The signature is usually a form of letterhead. It typically contains your name, title, address, and other contact information. An email application can be set to automatically append a signature at the end of every outgoing email in settings. Your signature should be at most five lines and include contact details such as phone numbers where you can be reached.
  5. Have a clear subject line. Your recipient might have hundreds of emails clogging their inbox daily, so a clearer your subject line increases the chances that your message will be read.
  6. Keep private material private. Emails can be shared by the click of a button. Always share private information in person or over the phone.

What not to do when writing business emails

  1. Don’t type in all caps. Typing is all caps is perceived as shouting.
  2. Don’t send unsolicited advertisements or promotions. Sending someone advertisements or promotions without their consent is a form of "spamming". Spam lowers the credibility of your business, worse still, you might end up blocked or reported to the email administrator by the recipient.
  3. Don’t use informal jargon or abbreviations. Informal jargon and abbreviations have become an integral part of text messaging and instant messaging for saving time when typing a message. However, for a business email, you don’t want to risk being misunderstood. Moreover if the recipient is not well versed with your jargon and abbreviations, you end up wasting their precious time.
  4. Don’t use humor in your emails. Written humour has a good chance of being misinterpreted by the recipient.

Juliet Muturuki

Quantity Surveyor and Freelance Writer.

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