All About Email Etiquette

In Business Letters and Email, what are the basic rules one should follow when writing? Your letter might be the first point of contact with another business, and how it’s written, will demonstrate your communication skills to the other party.

Always date your letters, and make sure that you spell the person’s name correctly. If you are unsure, call reception and ask for the correct spelling. I am amazed at how many people send me letters with my spelled incorrectly.

Use clear headings and subheadings — A well-constructed letter is much easier to understand.

Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation — A well-written document says a lot about you. Most software has a “check spelling and grammar” function. Make sure that you always use it.

Plan your letter and decide what you are trying to convey before you start writing. It’s a good idea to make some notes before you start writing the letter.

Be concise and to the point. Use the minimum number of words to convey your message. Try and use simple words that everybody can understand. Try to keep the recipient in mind when writing, especially when writing to someone overseas.

Do not use technical terms or jargon, unless absolutely necessary. Your reader might not be familiar with them.

Space out your letter. This makes the message easier to understand. Start a new paragraph whenever you can as a well spaced out letter is easier to read and understand. It is a lot easier on the eye!

Keep templates, for standard letters. I find that over time my templates improve as I make minor, but significant changes, to the wording and style.

Keep your humor for your telephone conversations. Jokes can easily be misinterpreted in written communication.

If your message is very detailed, it might be simpler to break it down into two letters. Send the first letter and follow it with a phone call to make sure that the message is understood before sending the second part.

Always be polite. Make sure that you ask or request, rather than demand. Don’t use informal terms at the beginning of your relationship. You can start being less formal once a relationship has been established.

Answer all correspondence quickly and clearly. Often, in business, the other party could lose interest if they do not believe that they are important to you, or if another business responds first.

Never use shortcuts! You are not sending a text message.

Make a copy of any written correspondence and file it away for future reference.

Once you have written the letter, read it carefully and think about the message you are trying to convey, before posting or hitting the send button.

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