(Updated October, 2022) Jonathan from California wrote to me last week asking and then answering his own question. I like it when readers are so efficient!
Here is what Jonathan grappled with:
Today I was looking for an answer to my question about the correctness of the term “please see attached,” but I could not find a post about it. So I am writing to ask you, but in thinking about it a little more, I think I know the answer. Even though people use the term all the time (at least in my industry), it is an incomplete sentence and should be avoided. It takes a few seconds longer to type out “please see the attached document (or spreadsheet, proposal, etc.)”, but it is the right thing to do.
I agree, Jonathan. “Please see attached” sounds incomplete.
To people who send nonstop text messages or emails, the phrase probably seems efficient. But I suggest boosting efficiency with more energetic, focused sentence starters such as:
The attached diagram shows . . .
The attached spreadsheet contains . . .
When you review the attached proposal, you will notice . . .
As promised, I have attached a revised . . .
Please let me know if the attached draft . . .
“Please see attached” is simply too dull–and it’s inaccurate. We don’t want our readers to “see” the attachment. (I “see” a pile of papers on my desk, but my next step is to hide it in a file drawer.)
We want our readers to review, improve, approve, save, forward, or recommend it–not “see” it.
We also don’t want them to find it. (It’s not lost or hidden, is it?) So “Please find attached” is no improvement.
Are people at your organization, like Jonathan’s, attached to “Please see attached”? Perhaps you can ask them to please see consider this blog post.