Jul 11 2012
Everyone writes for business, but not everyone writes effectively, especially when they email a message. In the age of technology, we’ve become lazy about grammar, but sounding professional will never go out of style. Here are five business writing tips for writing more effective emails on the job.
1. Eliminate Useless Words
Less is more. Your business writing should be clear, concise, and tight. Use as few words as possible. Avoid using words like, “There are” and “It is,” because they don’t mean anything. Reword your sentence and eliminate unnecessary words. Your reader is pressed for time, and the longer your email looks, the less inviting it is to read. Have you ever received a long email and thought, I’ll read this later?
- Wordy version: It is the obligation of all employees to submit monthly reports on time.
- Rewritten: Employees must submit monthly reports on time.
2. Write Inviting Subject Lines
Write something catchy to grab your recipient’s attention. Choose your subject line like it’s a headline to a news article to intrigue your reader enough so they’ll open, read your email, and respond if necessary. It is only one of many messages in a sea of emails competing for your reader’s attention. Capture the essence of your message in your subject line.
- Bad Subject Line: report
- Good Subject Line: Your Input Needed on Report by Tuesday
By explaining what the message is about in your subject line, your email is more likely to get opened and get a response. For more information on writing great subject lines for business emails, check out this post.
3. Eliminate Redundancies
Some people call this “the department of redundancy department.” Are you guilty of using any of these phrases?
- Added bonus
- Ask a question
- Future plans
These are known as redundancies and should be eliminated from your writing. Here’s why:
- Added bonus – If it’s added, then it’s a bonus.
- Ask a question – If you’re asking something, it’s a question.
- Future plans – If you’re planning, it’s for the future.
Remember, less is more. Cut down the amount of words in your sentences and your email will look more inviting to read.
4. Use an Active Voice
Using an active voice is a more direct way of speaking, and should be used in business writing.
- Active: Dawn read the book. (Dawn performed the action)
- Passive: The book was read by Dawn. (The object of the sentence, the book, was given more importance than the subject)
Learn more on using active versus passive voice from the Grammar Girl’s blog post here.
5. Three Annoying Email Habits
Avoid these annoying email habits in your business emails:
- Using Stationary Backgrounds– It’s hard to read and makes you look unprofessional.
- Overusing Reply All – Not everyone needs to be included. Only cc people who absolutely need to be in the loop.
- Read-Receipt Requested – Instead of asking if they have read your email with another email, make sure your original subject line was inviting (as in you followed the tips above), or consider following up in a different medium, like in person or over the phone.
Nowadays people are abusing grammar and writing poorly. Remember that when you’re writing for business, it’s important to sound professional. Instead of writing something like “got tips?” or “r u gonna share tips?” Ask a direct and proper question: What other business writing tips can you share?