Testing Your Email IQ

Does your written piece intended for online publishing really connect with the reader? Go through these twenty pointers and test your written work to it before you hit the Send button.

Does the subject line speak to the reader?

Any reader will only take one glance and he or she immediately wants to tell what the piece is about and if it is urgent to read it now.

Does the piece get to the point right-away?

It is commonly known that most readers on computer have diminutive attention spans. They will not be scrolling through anything more than one screen and if they haven’t find out what’s going on, they will click away.

Did you use clear language?

The message should not be obscured with massive words, complicated sentences fashionable terms and insider talk.

Is the piece too long?

Do not write too much, especially in a work e-mail, because it won’t get read first. If you have to pass on information, only use the relevant parts.

Are you sure of the facts?

Informality is all right, but not so in the case of facts and math. Be careful of the misinformation on the Internet. Be careful what you impart, especially in your own writing.

Does it state exactly to what it is you’re replying to?

An obscure “nope” or “fine” or “maybe” is not the way to go. The reader doesn’t want to play the guessing game. State exactly that you are replying to a certain message, because time might have passed.

Is the writing polite?

Offhand remarks can easily be interpreted incorrectly in online writing, especially in an e-mail, and taken as an insult or a small mistake made unforgivable. Ask politely, don’t make demands. The use of words like “thank you,” “sorry” and “please” will go a long way.

Was the subject handled with subtlety?

Sensitive matters about personnel should never be discussed via email and it should also be avoided to criticize any third party, to make risqué remarks, gossip about alleged office romance, spread rumors, or be bashful about your own accomplishments. Never share an e-mail address of a colleague without their permission.

Is there an intro and an ending?

To make an email more warm-heartedly write the beginning and the end in a personal way. Nothing will ever beat friendliness.

Does the reader welcome the attachment?

Think about your reader before attaching a home video, music or spreadsheet. Be sure that the reader will want it and have the software to open it.

Did you capitalize properly?

An e-mail written only in lowercase is hard for anyone to read. On the other hand an e-mail only written in capital letters will be considered ill-mannered, as if the writer is shouting at the reader.

Did you put in paragraph breaks?

A solid block of type is just rude. A message should be broken into smaller pieces with only one subject per paragraph. This will make it easier for the reader to read and to answer.

Did you use shorthand?

These days’ e-mails are infected with insider jargon, acronyms and smileys that not everybody is familiar with. Even if the reader shares your knowledge of a certain “slanguage,” use it sparingly. Stick to plain old English, otherwise.

Did you get the joke?

Many inboxes are filled up with jokes and supposedly funny e-mails and many people do not appreciate it. Please select to whom you send what.

Would the reader think it is spam?

A thin line divides spam and authentic promotion. Try to keep each message personalized and don’t write hype in the subject line, otherwise it will read like an indiscriminate bulk e-mail.

Do you really need to copy in all those people?

Everybody in your e-mail address book has a stuffed mailbox, just as you do. So, don’t send a copy of every impression to everybody in your address book under for example seminar, sales or alumni association.

Should you let it rest before sending?

The golden rule of e-mailing is to never send an e-mail while you are still angry. The next day, you will regret it. Let the steam out of your ears first, before sending the e-mail.

Can another medium other than e-mail work?

While e-mail is quick, it has its limits. In some instances it is more appropriate to write a letter, take the time to phone call or meet face-to-face.

Did you re-read your e-mail?

Always read through your e-mail once before sending, it will save you time the next day to have to spend on damage control. Rereading is time saved, not wasted.

Did you do a punctuation, spelling and grammar check?

When writing anything, a grammar guide and a dictionary should be by your side, and not as paperweights. Should you use spell checkers? Yes, habitually, but remember that they aren’t flawless and read over with a distrustful eye.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

logo1bSince 2006, Out of the Office has offered ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, content writing and offering creative solutions for your business success.

Image credit: geralt | CC0 Public Domain