How to Write An Email
- January 25, 2016
- Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Category: Study Skills
Email is a convenient way to communicate, but, when used for important matters, it can also be ineffective. Knowing how to properly communicate through email takes intuition, effort, and practice. Unfortunately, many students (and adults) haven’t been taught this important skill.
Here’s your checklist:
1. Subject line — The subject should tell the recipient exactly why you are writing her. Don’t leave it blank, but don’t say something like “urgent” or “emergency.” If you’re writing your teacher or professor about an upcoming assignment, you would write something like this:
Subject: “Question about 2nd period English – book review due Feb. 10.”
The information in this example allows the teacher to quickly understand why you’re writing, and if it’s something that needs an immediate response or one that can wait.
2. Greeting — Yes, you need to write a salutation. Unless you’re family friends or write each other frequently, saying “Hey” or going straight to the topic of your email is inappropriate. Whether you are writing to your teacher, a friend, or someone else, it’s impolite to not address that person with respect.
Dear Mr. Jordan,
Dear Professor Timms,
3. Body of email — Think about the message you want to write before you begin. Your message needs to be written with clarity and brevity. Use bullet points and bold type if it helps convey the message more clearly. Don’t write in all caps – it’s considered shouting. Use proper punctuation. Don’t use abbreviations such as “U” for “you.” The tone of your message is very important. Remember, sarcasm and jokes are often misinterpreted in written messages because it’s difficult to convey them without your vocal inflections, facial expressions, and hand gestures. Use separate paragraphs for separate thoughts. State the desired outcome of your message. For example, if you’d like a follow-up response, phone call, or would like to schedule a time to meet, be sure to suggest a date/time/place, as appropriate.
4. Closing or sign-off — Don’t assume the reader knows you wrote the email. Your closing should be friendly and brief. If you’re writing a professional email, you may need to provide your title or other contact information.
5. Proofread — This is the final, most important step. Read over your message at least once and clarify anything that isn’t easy to understand. A good rule of thumb is to read your email out loud to yourself. Often reading out loud will help you catch errors or improper grammar. Check your spelling!