Tip It, Tip It Good
Now that we’ve built the foundation of business writing and understand how we can use this knowledge in our everyday lives, let’s dig into some helpful tips on emails, memos, and letters!
Raise your hand if you write emails. Raise your hand if you ever regret an email you sent. We’ve all been there, whether it was to a colleague, a boss, a friend, or, ahem, an ex, sent after or during a rough night. But say “No more” to humiliating emails. Read these tips, memorise them, live by them!
Get used to adding the recipient’s address last. You never want to send an email before it’s ready or, worse, send an email to your boss that was meant for your partner.
Subject lines are very important. Type the main point of your email in your subject line. Example: “Winning at writing” (when you’re sharing these blog posts with your friends and family).
Take Michael Scott’s advice and Keep It Simple, Stupid (or KISS) – this means keeping your message short and to the point. Example: “Check out this awesome blog!”
Keep your focus on one subject per email.
Spell-check your message, and do it again. Sometimes messaging systems won’t catch your error, so don’t trust in them to point out all flaws.
If you wouldn’t say it to the receiver’s face, don’t write it in an email. Period. No exceptions.
Always sign off with something appropriate. Example: “All by best” or “Regards”.
Don’t Reply All if you’re only replying to one person. Please. Don’t be that guy.
Memos have similar rules to emails. Here are a couple of bonus tips:
Utilise those headlines – they’re not there solely for your health. Make headers clear and to the point. Example: “Deadline to Register”.
Use the active voice.
Now, business letters are a bit of a different beast. You want to have a personal connection but remain professional. Here are some tips to see you through your business letter journey:
Start with on a personal note.
Hook the reader with your opening sentence.
Try not to be too formal. Remove flowery language and stick to the key message.
Keep paragraphs short (about six lines each) and use clear sentences; every sentence must have a purpose.
If you’re enclosing additional forms or information with your letter, mention that towards the end, not the beginning.
Always summarise your points in the last paragraph.
Close with something the recipient will remember you by – a friendly note or sign-off, when appropriate.
And as always, kids: Know your purpose. Know your audience. You’ve got this! Now it’s time to self-edit before sending off your email, memo, letter, or hate mail to Fox for canceling Firefly. Just saying. #bringmycapnback
Keep an eye out for the final instalment on business writing – Self-Edit and Forget It!
Desirae Roosa is a technical writer by day and an aspiring author by night with an unhealthy addiction to the BBC. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.