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ProSkills Exercise: Written Communication
Written Communication
Writing Effective Email Messages
Email messages are often short and are considered a quick way to communicate.
However, this does not mean that you should take any less time or care when writing
them. To ensure that the intended meaning of your message is clear and presented well,
you need to apply the same principles of good writing to this convenient mode of
communication as you would to a report or a research paper. Therefore, before sending an
email message—be it to a friend, a professor, or an employer—consider the following
guidelines to produce positive results.
Plan the Content of Your Email Message
Before you begin writing an email message, take time to plan what you are going to
write. Have a clear understanding of the purpose of the message. Consider who your
recipients are and determine what information they will need to reply to your email
message appropriately. Write a fi rst draft of your email message, and then revise it—making
sure the content is clear and succinct.
Check for Correct Grammar and Spelling
Many email programs, such as Windows Live Mail, provide a tool that allows you to
spell check messages before sending them. Keep in mind that spell checking doesn’t
catch every error, so be sure to proofread your email messages carefully.
Avoid using abbreviations for words, as you might when texting via your cell phone.
Also, do not use all capital letters, which is considered to be shouting in an email
message, and do not overuse exclamation points. Use commas, periods, apostrophes, and
other punctuation correctly to ensure that your sentences are easy to read.
Use a Positive Tone and Appropriate Language
Although you might use abbreviated or incomplete sentences and phrases when writing
email messages to family or friends, you should never take this approach when
communicating with an instructor or an employer. Carefully consider the tone of your written
communication so that you don’t unintentionally offend your readers. A friendly tone is
acceptable in most situations. However, avoid using humor or sarcasm—these do not
usually work well in emails.
When addressing someone you don’t know well, you should maintain a professional
tone. For example, use a proper salutation, such as “Dear Susan,” or “Hello Dr. Elrod.”
Be sure to include a meaningful subject line in your email messages. A subject line such
as “Question about Project 2” is more descriptive than “Question.” You should also end
the message with a simple closing or your automated signature line. This is especially
important when your name is not part of your email address.
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