How To: Successfully Format An Email
Once college hits, email usage goes up by an exponential amount. Suddenly it’s the main form of communication between you and professors, potential employers, and sometimes friends as well. Communicating over electronic mail can be tricky sometimes, especially when it comes to people who are not your peers. Not to worry though, I’ve compiled a few tips to serve as your personal etiquette checklist to make sure that you’re always being read the way you want to sound!
- Always compose the first email in letter style. Use “Dear” or “Hello” (or sometimes just the name) and use the person’s title with their name. Sign it with “Sincerely” or “Thank you” or “Best” and put your full name, unless you think the person will recognize you on a first name basis.
- Don’t write all of your thoughts in one big chunk. It’s like reading a physical letter with text from top to bottom on the page. Separate out your thoughts into separate paragraphs with a space between them, even if it isn’t a long email. You do want the recipient to read and digest everything that you’re saying.
- Do not use slang or text lingo. While emailing may be a lot like texting in its technical form, don’t slip into a texting conversation. Always use capitalized, complete sentences with the correct punctuation. Reading bad grammar or spelling is just as painful as hearing it in person—it makes you look like you’re incapable. Worse, you don’t have the excuse that you are a bad speller, because there’s spell check. There’s no reason for your emails to have misspelled words or poor grammar choices.
- Always, always, always send a confirmation email. For example, you need to meet with your professor to go over the latest test that you didn’t exactly ace. After he lets you know what time will work for him, always send a “Thank you!” or “Great! See you then.” Also, when you’re punctuating your emails, use a few exclamation points. Not liberally, but enough so that the tone of the email is clear. You want to come across as happy and appreciative, not bored and unwilling.
- Don’t forget to fill in the subject line. While emails between friends can have a more casual tone and you know they’ll stop to read your email once they see the sender’s name, a more professional email requires a filled in subject line if you want to be noticed. These people, especially potential employers, are bombarded with emails daily and will be much more likely to open your email if they know what they’re getting themselves into.
Now that you know how to come across well in an email, want to spruce up your resume? Check out How To: Create A Professional Image On Paper