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5 key steps for writing perfect emails

Today life is a bit of a rush, especially on the work front and mistakes are understandable but a hazard. Failure to check your work and proofread your business emails can result in all sorts of problems, and errors in emails can make your communications appear unprofessional and careless. But there are steps that you can take to proofread your emails more effectively. Some of the best ways to keep errors out of your online communications are as follows.

1. Type the recipient’s name correctly This is the most essential step of all as no one wants to see their name misspelt in an email as it gives the impression that the sender does not really care about them as a client, supplier, or employee. If writing to a customer always cross-check against your business records, check online using a search engine, or check a business network to see if they are listed. Once you are satisfied you have the right spelling for the name, put it in the email program’s address book for future use.

2. Use the right tone Getting the tone right can be tricky. If your email is not sufficiently friendly and warm you may alienate the recipient with a stiff approach. On the other hand, if it is overfriendly or even personal, that could cause offence or make the recipient cringe If you have had contact with the customer before, how do they like to be addressed? Informally, such as “Mike”, or formally, such as “Mr Jones”? It is advisable to read through the message before sending it. Would you be happy if you received it?

3. Are you correctly conveying your message? Make sure that you are sending the message you intended to, setting out dates, times, prices, and content clearly. If it is a sales promotion or press release, ensure you have included full details that the reader cannot be expected to know, but do not pad it out with waffle or irrelevant information. Does your email include valuable information about a news story, promotion or event? If so, enclose your own contact details in case the recipient needs further information or wants to clarify something. Check that you have not assumed too much knowledge on the part of the reader. Get to the point quickly or you may risk losing the interest of your recipient if your message is not clear or concise. The recipient with a full daily inbox of emails is likely to skim read the contents, so make their job easier by writing short sentences and using small words. Only use terminology and technical terms the reader is likely to be familiar with.

4. Choose your language carefully Avoid frequent repetition of words by using alternatives, perhaps consulting a thesaurus, either printed or online. An active, more dynamic verb can make all the difference to the meaning and impact of a sentence. Avoid passive language (e.g. “try”, “endeavour”) where possible. Sound positive! If you can cut words from a sentence without compromising its meaning, then do so.

5. Proofreading and sending A simple skim read of the email before sending is not enough. The more you read back the email the more likely you are to find errors or better ways of expressing yourself. Read the email word for word and then sentence by sentence. Do not rely on the computer spellchecker, which can often overlook errors. If drafting an email on a smartphone, beware of predictive text, which can often make unusual and embarrassing word choices. If the email is very important, store it in the drafts folder and reread after a break, the next day if possible, in order to come at it with a fresh mind.

Summary Bear the above points in mind and you are well on your way to writing accurate, concise, and informative emails.

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