DOs and DON’Ts of writing emails in 2018.
In these modern times in which Tinder is a legitimate form of dating, and Twitter is the chosen voice of the U.S. President, it is unsurprising that instant messaging is being used more and more frequently in semi-formal situations. Many offices now use Whatsapp as their method of in-company communication. Due to the combination of this new age with old memories of learning letter-writing at school, I can understand why people get confused as to how to write emails correctly today.
There is no shortage of information on how to write the right email. However, I think that a lot of current ideas are outdated. Here are some ideas to clarify how to approach modern email writing.
Do know who you are writing to:
Address your e-mails “Dear Mr./Mrs. *surname*”. With access to information at an all-time high, you should be able to find the name of the person that you are writing to. If it really isn’t possible, then begin with “Dear Sir/Madam”.
When writing to someone you know “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” are acceptable.
Don’t underestimate a powerful introduction:
When writing to someone for the first time, a well written e-mail can make the difference between someone paying attention to you, or disregarding you completely. Use a polite yet attention-grabbing introduction that will make you stand out.
E.g. Dear Mr. Smith,
Having seen your interesting job offer on www.jobs.com, I felt inclined to apply for the position. I believe I would be a valuable asset for your team…
Do say thank you:
Appreciating what the recipient has done for you (even something as simple as replying) is an easy way to appear polite in an ongoing conversation.
E.g. Dear Mrs. Lee,
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Regarding the possibility of a convention in July, perhaps we could ….
Don’t worry about ‘faithfully’ or ‘sincerely’:
Traditionally, letters that began with an unknown recipient (Dear Sirs) should be finished with ‘yours faithfully’, and letters that began with a known recipient (Dear Mrs. Jones) should be finished with ‘yours sincerely’. I believe these days are over.
Today, different forms of ‘Regards’ are acceptable in all circumstances:
More formal: Kind Regards,
Less formal (after having met in person and shared at least one laugh):
Best Wishes is informal, and should saved for your colleagues or other people you meet often.
It is common, especially as an email chain becomes long, to change the style of writing. Despite initially using a formal writing style, don’t be afraid to become less formal as the conversation continue. If the recipient has begun to use only your first name, you can usually use theirs. As a ‘middle ground’, remaining mildly formal in an email chain, I like to leave out the introductory ‘Dear…’ but keep the ‘Regards,’:
E.g. Perfect. I will see you at 3PM on the ground floor.
Just like you, your recipient is busy. Choose an effective subject, state your purpose in the opening lines, and only CC an extra person when genuinely necessary.
Do think before sending:
Using a few seconds of your time may save you embarrassment later on. Have you spelt everything correctly? Did you attach the file that you were supposed to? Is this email even worth sending, or is it better to make a phone call?
Is there anything that you would add to the list of email DOs and DON’Ts? If there is then let us know in the comments section.
The EN-Inglés team
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Good tips. Lets talk this friday about some others. Regards. Vero