Business Email Etiquette 3|Structure Matters

Emma Buckby

18 Nov 2010

We use email as a quick and immediate form of communication and often neglect the rules of structure that we would apply to a more formal professional document. How we structure and format our professional emails has a real impact on our audience and can make our messages much more readable and digestible for the recipient.

A well laid out and structured email is much easier to follow and is more likely to have the desired effect than a message that is a stream of text with no white space or clarity of structure. Following the simple tips below will help you to improve the structure of your emails making them more readable and manageable for your audience.

1. Use paragraphs in the same way you would in any other professional document and make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and end with a line space between each paragraph. Ideally each paragraph should have two or three sentences.

2. Open and close your emails just as you would a professional letter. You can be slightly less formal but still need to address your reader and sign off at the end – a simple “Hi” and “Thanks” will produce a remarkable response from the recipient of your email.

3. If your message is longer than a couple of lines use headings to add clarity. Avoid using all capitals or underlining but use bold to make your heading stand out. Questions often make good headings, particularly if you are giving instructions. What do I need to do next? or What does this mean for me?

4. If you are listing documents or instructions bullet points will improve the clarity of your message and make it easier for your reader to digest. Use simple bullet points and make sure you are consistent with their format

5. Use attachments for detailed information rather than making your email any longer than a page. Your recipients can then read the key information but come back to read the details in the attachment at a later stage if they need to.

Websites have lots of useful information on how to structure your emails correctly. Organisations also run business email writing coursesfor their employees as they seek to ensure that their employees protect the brand.

 



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