THE general demise of letter-writing and the upsurge in emails has left many of us with a style problem.
How formal or informal do you make an email and how do you start and finish it?
Businesses face a particular dilemma because emails are personal. Each person adopts their own style, unless there is a house style which is actually worth considering.
Just starting your email sets the tone of it. “Hi” followed by a first name seems generally fine but you don’t want “Hi, Mr Jones” and “Dear Mr Jones” sounds like a writ. Just “Hi” or “Hello” sounds like a scatter-gun email sent out to hundreds.
Setting out a business email is best approached like setting out a letter. Keep to short paragraphs of no more than one or two sentences for ease of reading.
As an email is like a less formal letter, content needs to be business-like but accessible. Taking the opportunity to comment personally sets the wrong tone – “Hiya, Loved the jumper you were wearing last week!” just doesn’t cut it when you’re corresponding with another company.
Texting has taught us all to be to the point and this works well with emails. Waffling is ill-advised as most individuals who get several – or many – a day want to be able to grasp the point, deal with it and move swiftly on.
Finishing your email may also need some thoughts on style, too. “See ya” is obviously unacceptable but “Yours sincerely” sounds plainly Victorian here. “Kind regards” is fine or just “Many thanks” without anything but your name seems fine.
The other trick is to always read through your emails before you send them. Fast typing and scanning as you go often leaves typos – and, anyway, re-reading gives you the chance to improve your first thoughts.