Email is such a standard tool in our work lives, both in and out of the office. Most of us younger millennials have known how to use email since we were in school, but what I’ve discovered upon entering the workforce is that I’m often caught between words, punctuation, and even salutations in order to present myself as professionally as I can, and hopefully still be friendly at the same time.
I’m not alone in this concern. There have been a lot of cases wherein my peers and I found ourselves annoyed at an email that sounded too informal, and anxious at whether our email addressees would think that way of us.
I have recently attended Mr. EJ Zara’s Effective Business Writing workshop. Mr. Zara is known for his trainings in leadership, team-building, communication, and operations management. There, we tackled everything from the basics of Subject-Verb Agreement to structuring your emails in order to avoid wrong or incomplete send-outs.
Mr. Zara emphasized the need for proper business emails in order to shape your relationship with your clients and co-workers.
In this article, I will not go through every little thing that the workshop discussed, because you need to attend it in order to truly understand the essentials and importance of emailing tools.
I will instead list down all the interesting tips that can help you out with everyday emails.
1. The best default greeting is “Dear.”
It is the most formal and traditional greeting for letter writing.
2. Use the period (.) for friendlier salutations.
Never use the comma (,) because traditionally, this is used for more informal letters—specifically, love letters.
A colon (:) is ideal in stricter business relationships, but a period is fine for friendlier relationships.
3. Never use fragments in emails.
Business emails need to be as concise as possible, but never at the expense of a complete thought.
A popular Pinoy habit is starting sentences that do not have a subject in order to close an email. Fragments like “Will contact you soon,” and “Hope for your approval” should be avoided.
Inserting a simple “I” at the start of your sentence will make your thoughts sound more complete.
4. Common nouns can be capitalized as long as they are designations.
If you are talking about a particular person, like “the President,” then capitalization for a common noun is not only allowed, but expected.
5. Using a period (.) or a question mark (?) in requests depends on your work dynamic.
If it is a request from a boss, then the sentence “May I please request for a copy of the report” can end in a period. Otherwise, use a question mark.
6. Always use only one highlighting tool in one email.
Highlighting tools include: ALL CAPS, the exclamation point (!), boldface, italicizations, and underline. For emphasis on words and phrases, only use one of these, never more.
7. Avoid nominations.
These are words that end in -ion. Excessive use of nominations will disorient your reader and frankly, it’s quite confusing.
Consider the sentence: We must produce maximization of automation in our email communication between the website and the audience.
Did you get that? Me neither.
8. The word “irregardless” makes no sense.
Stop using it.
9. For long emails (and even in presentations), use Serif Fonts for headings, and Sans Serif fonts for the body.
Serif fonts are generally known as legal fonts, and Sans Serif fonts are known as classic fonts.
According to opticentre.net, examples of Serif fonts are Helvetica, Avant Garde, Arial, and Geneva. Examples of Sans Serif fonts are Times Roman, Courier, New Century Schoolbook, and Palatino.
10. Use “Thank you very much” to end an email.
Don’t just say “Thank you,” or use “Thank you so much.” End the email in a formal way, and don’t be frugal with your words of gratitude.
The Effective Business Writing workshop discusses more specifics in business writing and can help you better your writing skills outside of emails. I find that the workshop is especially helpful in sales acquisition, proposal letters, and cover letter writing.
The workshop is run by Salt and Light Ventures, a division of Breakthrough Leadership Management Consultancy. The 6th Effective Business Writing Workshop will be held on July 30, 2019 at the Joy~Nostalg Hotel & Suites Manila, Ortigas Center.