Skip to content

Great Tips for Email

In classes I taught yesterday and today, attendees shared their excellent suggestions for more efficient email. Try these:

  1. Be selective about Reply to All. Recognize that it is not all or nothing. You can delete some people’s names from Reply to All–those who don’t need to be continually updated or included.
  2. If you provide someone’s name as a  contact, copy (Cc) or blindcopy (Bcc) the individual to be sure he or she is prepared–not blindsided by the contact.
  3. Avoid having to have the last word. It is enough for one person to say “I look forward to meeting you.” Restrain yourself from adding a “Me too” or an “I look forward to meeting you too.”
  4. If something is complex or sensitive, discuss it face to face or over the phone. Then follow up with a written summary of the discussion if you need one.
  5. When you assign work to people through email, write to them as “To” recipients. Do not assign work in a Cc. Cc means “for your information”–not “for your action.”
  6. Avoid large (1MB or more) attachments, especially to large groups. They waste bandwidth.
  7. Engage readers from the beginning by using you in the first sentence of the message.
Posted by Avatar photo
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.