Electronic mail (email) began as an informal way to communicate online.  It was never intended to be the main method of corporate communication, however today, it accounts for the majority of business transactions.  Email is now used for a variety of tasks such as answering customer questions, offering business support, handling complaints, document transactions and to inform.

When writing email messages there are several tips that will ensure your message is clear and accurate.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for writing effective email.


1.    Plan your message

Ensure you know what you want to achieve by sending an email before you send it.  Poorly structured messages lose impact.

2.    Salutations

Unless you know the person well, my rule of thumb is to always use “Dear” as the salutation.

3.    Use a descriptive subject line

Use a verb in the subject line and clearly state the topic of your message.  Most people skim emails based on subject line, therefore the likelihood of your email being read immediately has a lot to do with the content of the subject line.

4.    Put the main message first

As many people receive on average 30-60 emails per day, the habit of skimming email messages is rife.  Putting your main message in the first few lines of your email will help the reader know the purpose of your message.  Don’t leave it to the last paragraph before you state what is needed.

5.    Be succinct

Email messages should be succinct and to the point.  Using extraneous information will only burden the reader and confuse them unnecessarily.

6.    Spell check and proofread

Before you hit send make sure you proofread your message and run a spell and grammar check.  The aim is to have all business correspondence sent with accuracy.

7.    Aesthetics matter

When composing a lengthy email, it is helpful to use smaller paragraphs, add white space between them and use headings and lists to break down the information.  Receiving long blocks of text can be difficult to process and focus upon.

8.    Text and Font

Use plain text and minimize the use of CAPITALS, as many associate the use of text written in capitals as shouting.  Using the default font provided by the email program is a safe bet.

9.    Reply All

Be careful with hitting the “Reply All” button when a mass email has been distributed.  Understand that every person listed on the email will see your response, so make sure it is appropriate.

10.   Attachments

With so many people using different interfaces, it is usually best to send attachments as Portable Document Format (PDF) files.  Try and keep attachment size smaller than 1MB.