We live in a digitized world, texts have replaced human conversation, video calls work just fine for meetings and emails are the saviors when it comes formal letters. Let’s leave aside texts and calls for a moment, and concentrate on emails. A quick question – how many emails do you send daily? I, personally, send at least 20 or 25 emails a day. I am curious, how much time do you spend on each email? Unfortunately, I can’t hear your answer through the screen but on average, people spend around 5 to 10 minutes, or more depending on the length. No big deal, you may say, it is just an email, you write down your question, your statement or whatever it is, add a subject line and click send. That is right but it is not correct, it is not how you should send an email. In professional and educational world, people will form an opinion about you based on just your emails. So, you probably want to stick around to learn how to write an email that will make you look good.
Do not ever skip the subject line, just don’t, please. Imagine you are writing to your professor who gets dozens of emails everyday and there you are sending him another one, with no clear indication of what it is about. Subject lines deserve a credit for simplifying your life: with descriptive subject lines, you can easily skim through your emails and find the one you need. This takes us to another question – How do I write a descriptive subject line? I promised, I’ll teach you how so here you go.
Make it brief – if you are writing to your boss to submit a report, your subject line should look like this:
‘’Report Submission, [date]’’
Or if it is an invitation to a workshop:
‘’Invitation to a seminar on Solar Energy’’
Use subject line shortcuts – here are some general shortcuts that will help the receiver know what to expect:
<AR> Action required
<EOM> End of message
<FYI> For your information
<NRN> No response needed
<TYVM> Thank you very much
<OT> Off topic
<F2F> Face to face
<MSR> Monthly status report
If any of these shortcuts apply to your message, add them at the end of your subject line. One last advice, write your subject line after the core message. That way, it’ll be easier for you to synthesize the main idea in the subject line.
Also known as the struggle is real. I have a confession to make, before I have learned email etiquette, my search history was bombarded by ‘’how I start an email?’’ To be fair, it is hard to figure out how to address the receiver. Generally speaking, there are two scenarios of writing an email 1) you know who you are writing to, 2) you don’t know who you are writing to. Don’t worry, I have got some suggestions for both cases.
Scenario #1 When you are writing to someone of a higher position that you know, it is always safe to start like this:
Dear Dr./Mr./Ms./Mrs./ Harrison,
Mr./Mrs./Ms. [first name],
As for casual emails, “Hello” is enough. Simple, right?
Scenario #2 When you are writing to someone of a higher position that you do not know, start with Dear Sir or Madam. You could use “To whom it may concern” as a last resort.
Keep it concise and on topic, check your spelling and grammar, and watch your language. I need to elaborate on the last one. If you’re writing a formal email, use formal language: no emoticons, no exclamation marks and so on.
There are a lot of ways of finishing your email. Some people add their signature, some don’t. In any regard, choose a closing word like sincerely, best regards, best, frankly, etc. and stick to it. You could also write thank you if necessary. And don’t forget to add your name.
Yay, you are an email expert!
Whether you are a student or an employee, emails are your best friend. I hope this article helped you learn how to treat your best friend.