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Tips for Structuring Six Types of Emails

email writingby Jody Bruner

We read a terrific book on email called SEND: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. Here are some pointers you might find helpful for writing emails with different purposes.

1. Requesting
Make sure your tone is appropriate for your reader. Consider your relationship: are you asking for something from a friend, your boss or your direct report? Every relationship will require a different tone. Always be polite and follow up gently.

It’s best to ask for one thing, or several things related to that one thing. Keep your focus clear. If you are requesting several unrelated things, write separate emails.

Make sure your request stands out. Put it up front—don’t bury it at the end of your message. Be direct and respectful.

2. Responding
Put your response up front, even if it’s bad news. If you are embedding several responses, use a different color. If the email will be printed and filed, the color won’t show up, so use a different font.

If you need time to respond, let the reader know. Use an out-of-office autoresponder if you are away for a day or more.

3. Informing 
Email is ideal for sharing information. To let your reader know it’s just information and there’s no need to act, use an FYI in the subject line. Being cc’d in an email similarly means you need to know about but not act upon the message.

4. Thanking
It’s polite to thank someone who does something for you, and it’s nice to be thanked. However, beware of never-ending thank you/you’re welcome chains. Make sure your reader wants to be thanked. Some don’t! If you don’t want your inbox cluttered up with thank you’s, use NRN (no response necessary) in your subject line. And remember to let people know what it means the first few times you use it.

5. Apologizing 
If you’re apologizing for a big blunder, maybe email isn’t the best medium. Pick up the phone, or pay a visit instead.

6. Connecting
This is one thing email excels at. The best emails have a friendly tone and use the beginnings and endings to make a personal connection.

Collective Nouns: What You Need to Know

by Jody Bruner

Collective nouns are words that are singular in form but refer to a group of people, things or animals. Read more

Dealing with Difficult Digital Conversations 

digital conversationsby Brittany Moor

In today’s digital world, more and more of our conversations are happening through a screen. Between emails, texts, instant messages and social media, we often struggle to convey tone and meaning with just our words. Read more

Help Me, Don’t Assist Me!

by Jody Bruner

In business, we’re often offering or asking for help. But in your communications, do you offer to assist instead? Read more

How Can Millennials Get Ready to Lead?

leadershipby Brittany Moor

Dear fellow millennials: are you ready to lead? Read more

How to Make Important Information Stand Out

by Jody Bruner

Business readers are impatient and often scan when they read, so writers need strategies to make important information leap off the page. Read more

Technical Writing: Infographic

Click here for a downloadable PDF

Flipping the Scientific Method

by Brittany Moor

I studied science in university, and I had to write a lot. My university experience was filled with lab reports, research papers, formal and informal scientific presentations, proposals, essay questions… the list goes on. To achieve top marks, I was taught that my writing method should mimic the scientific method: present my conclusions and recommendations at the very end of my document. When I started working in the real world, I began to realize this method didn’t work as well as I thought, and I struggled to present myself as a credible professional. Read more

Plain Language for Better Written Communication

written communication skillsby Lesley Nevills

Have you ever had to read a message several times just to understand it? We’ve all been on the receiving end of emails like that, and our impulse is to hit delete. But what if that email includes information you need, or it comes from someone you can’t ignore?

Many writers fall into the trap of writing in a vague and bureaucratic style because they think it makes them sound more formal or professional, but it confuses and challenges the reader. So, if you don’t want your readers to hit delete, use a modern written communication style that engages your reader with a friendly, conversational tone. To be effective, let your human voice come through.

Who would you prefer to work with – Writer A or Writer B? Read more

Should You be Branding Yourself?

branding yourselfby Leigh Geraghty

Most of us understand the benefits of branding our business—it helps build recognition, credibility, customer loyalty and a competitive edge. But what about branding yourself? What is personal branding, and why is it an increasingly important area of employee development?

Personal branding is how you define and portray yourself as a person and a business professional. Your brand expresses your interests, talents, personality and expertise. It portrays the person you are and the person you want others to see. Read more