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									 Tips for Writing
Professional Email

        ENGL 3365
First things first:

 We are talking about professional email, not personal
 email. Do whatever you like in personal email, but don’t
 use your work email for personal messages:

 In a 2007 survey of 500 companies, the “American
 Management Assoc” discovered that 85% of them
 monitored and archived their employees’ email.
 Most did not tell employees this. Of these
 companies, 30% had fired at least some employees
 for cause based on email content.
Some BASIC organization tips

State the CLEAR goal of the email in the first paragraph.
       ANY report must have a clear statement of purpose
       Important workplace emails ARE reports

Use SHORT (like 1-6 sentence) paragraphs.
       People want to SKIM emails to pick out key info
       Your job is to HELP the audience skim for key info

Have a CLEAR summary sentence or SHORT paragraph
that restates the goal.
       You’re trying to get the audience to do something or help them
        achieve something – SAY this very clearly !!!!
Now, some other BASIC tips

   The rest of this presentation will cover:
          What kinds of email addresses to use
          Signature blocks, priority flags
          Subject lines
          Greetings and goodbyes
          What titles to use for greetings
          What paragraph length to use
          What formatting to use
          Some final organization reminders
Have a professional address
NOT good:                      Better:
                         MUCH better:   *     *use an address that will be
                                informative or easy to
Use a professional SIGNATURE

 Every email program has a feature for adding signature
 blocks to your outgoing emails automatically. Make
 sure this signature has your name, number, and email
 address for business contacts.

 A professional signature contains all of the info on your
 business card and NOTHING more. Be conservative.

 A practically useful signature helps the audience keep
 track of things – for example, emails are often printed
 and filed as hardcopies.
A nice boring example:

When you join an       =========================
organization, see if   Art Fricke, PhD
                       Lecturer, TTU English
there is a standard
                       Mail Stop MS3091
email signature.       Lubbock, TX 79409
Look at what other     806/785-4910
people use.  
Be conservative.
                   Professional signatures
                         DO NOT include:

Inspirational quotations (why?)

“A life with love will have some thorns, but a life
  without love will have no roses.”

“May the Force be with you.”
A nice boring example:

    Art Fricke, PhD
    Lecturer, TTU English
    Mail Stop MS3091
    Lubbock, TX 79409
Flags, Priorities, Read Receipt, etc

 Use these SPARINGLY and strategically. An
 emergency to you is not necessarily an emergency to

 Don’t use flags, priority tags, read receipt options, etc
 unless you are CERTAIN that this will HELP the email
 audience stay organized.

 Most of the time, these options will merely annoy the
Subject lines

  Heavy email users can get 50-100 emails per day.

  Have a descriptive subject line that HELPS the
  audience to stay organized.

  NEVER leave a blank subject line
  NEVER use vague subject lines
Subject line length

 You want the whole subject line to show up in the
 audience’s email browser.

 Keep in mind that some people have small screens, get
 email on netbooks or by phone, etc.

 Try to make the subject line SHORT yet still descriptive
 and informative.

 There are VERY specific directions for email subject
 lines in this 2311 professional organization.
                Do NOT let subject lines
                            get too long

“Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Your Question”

Recycled subject lines become increasingly
confusing and irrelevant, and the important
words eventually won’t show up in the email
Signal necessary action

  If you just are simply giving info that is not
  critical, then start the subject line with “FYI”.

  “Re: FYI - New Programmer begins Monday”

  Let the person know that he or she doesn’t
  need to do anything - it’s just for their
Subject Line examples

NOT good (way too vague)
 re: Absence
NOT good (still too vague)
 re: My Absence
Better (short and descriptive)
 re: My Absence on 9/10
BEST (descriptive AND informative)
 re: My 9/10 absence -- explanation & makeup plan
If the email is long, warn people

  First, don’t make emails really long unless it’s
  absolutely necessary to save the audience time
  and effort.
  If it has to be long, then let people know this in the
  first few lines OR warn them in the subject line.
               “Re: Long email about final report duties”
  If it has to be long, then use SHORT PARAGRAPHS
  with CLEAR BREAKS and VISUAL CUES to help
  readers skip through it quickly
Give greetings and goodbyes

Emails begin with a salutation:
  “Dear Dr. Dre,”                    Emails are like
  “Dr. Dre,”                         electronic LETTERS.
                                     You wouldn’t send a
  “Dear Ms. Gibson,”
                                     business letter without
  “Dear Human Resources,”            a clear salutation and
  “Dear Exxon,”                      signature, so DO NOT
                                     omit these things from
Emails end with a signature block:
                                     professional emails.
  “Best wishes,”
  “Thank you,”
          Be CAREFUL about wording
           (can’t go wrong with bland)

Maybe not the best greeting/salutation choices:

  “Hey Party People,”
  “Yo Dudes and Dudettes,”

  “Praise Him,”
  “Fight the Power,”

  You can never go badly wrong by being TOO bland and
  formal in a professional email or letter.
First name or title?

 If you have never met the person, use Mr. or
 Ms. (NOT Mrs./Miss) or title (Dr., etc).

 If you have met the person, and they have invited you
 to call them by their first name, go ahead and do so.

 If you think they might not remember that invitation (it
 was late at a party or a long time ago), then revert to a
 formal greeting.
Exception to the Rule . . .

  If you have been exchanging emails with the
  person all day, it’s okay to skip the greeting
  and salutation as if you’re having one long

  DO NOT, however, consider this an invitation
  to become familiar and informal. Just skip
  the greetings/salutations for efficiency.
Email body

 DO NOT use emoticons, graphics, backgrounds, or
 excessive punctuation.

 Remember that professional emails are just
 electronic business letters – use THE SAME
 restraint you’d use in a business letter.

 No triple exclamation points. No full caps. No lack of
 caps. No exclamation point ending every sentence.
Use SHORT paragraphs

 Don’t use long paragraphs. Anything more than six
 or seven sentences is probably too long.

 Put CLEAR LINE BREAKS between paragraphs.

 Audiences want to SKIM emails. Your job is to
 HELP them do this.

 Also, remember that they may be viewing the email
 in a much smaller window than you are.
Use SIMPLE formatting

 Don’t use fancy auto format text just because you can.
 Some audiences won’t have the same fancy email
 program that you have.

 Auto formatted text often shows up as HTML
 gobledygook on other people’s email browsers.

 You can get the same PRACTICAL results using only the
 simplest text formatting, so KEEP THINGS SIMPLE by
 using only non-HTML formatting.
Use SIMPLE plain text formatting

   Instead of HTML:      Use PLAIN TEXT:

   bold or italics       ALL CAPS

   bullets               - a simple hyphen
                         - to begin list items

   automatic numbering   1. regular typed numbering

   margins and page      a full space break between ¶s
              just another reminder
       so you really get THIS POINT

DO NOT use complicated automatic formatting
 (like underlining, italics, bold text, auto
 bullets, tabs and margins, icons and pictures)
 in the body of a professional email.

YOU CAN make any email very easy to scan
 quickly and easily AND add emphasis by
 using ONLY all caps, line breaks, and simple
 hyphen marks and manual numbering.
                                Include a

Make it VERY explicit what you want the reader to do
and give them ALL the info that they will need to act.

If the reader needs to send you back ANOTHER email
    asking what to do next or requesting more info, then
your original message was not clear and whatever you
         were asking for is MUCH less likely to happen.
for all emails in THIS course:

1.   Make certain the “re:” line has a description that is short,
     direct, and VERY clear
2.   Make certain the “re:” line clearly shows your last name
3.   Make certain the “re:” line clearly shows your COURSE
     and SECTION number

HOW do these things help me do my job more easily?

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