Over the last 10 or 15 years, e-mail has increasingly become a large part of our lives. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most likely you write e-mail on a daily basis. It is a special kind of life form that can multiply dramatically right before our eyes. Because there is so much of it, and because the medium is so rapid, we often don’t give e-mail the respect that it deserves. I’d like to offer a number of important tips that will make your e-mail stand out from everybody else’s, whether you are writing for work or for play. So, here is Part One of “How to Write a Smashing E-Mail.”
1. Let’s begin with the address line. Always protect your recipient’s identity. If you have more than one recipient, create a group list in your Outlook Express or put additional parties on a blind carbon copy line. Some people are very particular about not wanting their e-mail address circulated. Other people don’t care. Be safe. Better to err on the side of caution.
2. Never forward a personal e-mail to someone else, even if you send them a copy, without their express permission. Forwarding is so easy that you’ll never know if the note that you sent from your neighbor to your best friend magically returned to the original sender (often this occurs when someone hits the “reply all” button instead of just “reply”). Prevent unwanted surprises. Make a habit of ensuring everyone’s privacy.
3. Check and double-check to make sure that you’re sending your e-mail to the right person to avoid any embarrassing moments. I was involved with a man named Ed for many years. Right below Ed in my address book was the Editors’ Association of Canada! I lived in mortal fear that I would accidentally forward an amorous e-mail meant for Ed to the association. How did I resolve that concern? I changed his name in my address book and called him “Hot Boy.” Sound silly? It was worth it to know that the Editors’ Association didn’t read anything naughty that wasn’t intended for them.
Tune in on May 24 for Tip Two on writing great e-mails.
Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, available on Amazon.com. Visit her at email@example.com.