5 tips for writing a professional email

I hate to break it to you, but you suck at writing emails.

Yes, I know you emailed your professor and got that extension or even landed a job from reaching out through email. But, 9-to-5 workers are bad at email writing, so you, tops-two-emails-per-day college student must suck at writing emails too.

But, why should you even care about writing emails? Email is dying anyways, right? Nah.

Three billion email users are expected by 2020, meaning you have to be able to communicate with them, and communicate effectively. And, as millennials – the ones who invented text lingo – we’re contributing to the bad writing that kills productivity.

In a world full of competing for jobs based on productivity, you need to not only know how to communicate through written and spoken word, but be exceptional at it.

What you’ve learned by writing in college classes and what a professor passes off as a learning curve or “student-ness”, just isn’t good enough to stand out among professionals. And you want to stand out in a good way.

Here are five tips to make sure every email is a good one:

Begin with a greeting and end with a thanks

You don’t need to introduce yourself in every. Single. Email. But you do need to greet the reader and sign off somehow.

The first email you ever send to that person, make sure to introduce yourself and state what your title is. If you’re talking to a professor, make sure you state the class name and time. If it’s a big class, maybe even mention where you usually sit so they can think of a face.

But, if you’ve been talking back and forth for awhile, there’s no need to put anything besides a “Your Name” at the end of the email and a “Hi Name,” at the beginning.

Make sure the purpose is clearly stated

Don’t try to sound overly smart with your writing so that your question is almost hidden. Feel free to post your question/needed action on a separate line, bolded or underlined so the reader knows what they need to do.

Keeping it to one question/action per email is important too. If you decided to ask a bunch of questions, the recipient will most likely only answer one. However, if all the questions are related to the same thing, list and number each one so they can highlight the questions then answer underneath.

Proofread, proofread, proofread

Don’t send that email before you’ve made sure you’re talking in complete sentences and it’s free from “lol k, thanks” type remarks.

Even though punctuation is important, people will notice what’s wrong with wording more than you missing a comma.

Don’t ignore the subject line

A vague or complex subject line will make the reader simply not want to open it. Or, if by chance they do, they won’t put forth any effort into seeing what needs to get done.

Don’t just copy the theme of the entire email, but also include the reason. For example, if you need feedback on something, say something like “Social Media Outline — feedback needed”.

Take your time

Yes, emails feel more like a to-do than an interaction between colleagues, but they require some thought to be effective. Take your time and make sure that what you’re writing is not only cohesive but relays what you need to say, and everything will run smoothly.

Featured image by Alexis Paige