I want the best in dentistry–not business writing–from my dentist. But I'm still disappointed when I receive a pointless, error-filled email like the one below. In it, I have changed the name of the dental practice to "Your Favorite Dentist." Otherwise, it's identical to the email I received. What do you think of it?
Subject: Your Favorite Dentist — Updated Hours
Starting Monday, November 5th, we'll be making some minor changes to our hours. If this effects your upcoming appointment, we'll give you a call.
Thanks for being a patient at Your Favorite Dentist, we look forward to seeing you soon!
What's wrong with the email? Read it again if you haven't found problems yet. Then consider my comments below.
First, the message disappoints me. The subject promises Updated Hours, but there is no information about them.
Second, I don't have an upcoming appointment. Why did I receive this message? Why not send a clearer message to patients who do have appointments? Or simply call them, as the email states. If my dentist wants the rest of us to know about the new hours, the solution is to send us a message that includes them.
Third, four errors may distract readers. See whether you can find them.
- The date should be rendered as Monday, November 5–not Monday, November 5th. Every style manual follows this rule except The New Yorker's.
- In the second sentence, the word this is wrong. It doesn't refer to anything in the previous sentence. "These changes" would be correct.
- In the second sentence, the verb should be affects–not effects. Effects as a verb means "brings about."
- The last sentence is a run-on, that is, two sentences connected incorrectly.
Beyond those problems, the wording is unclear. "Starting Monday, November 5th, we'll be making some minor changes to our hours" suggests that the changes will be ongoing. This wording is clearer: Starting Monday, November 5, our hours will change slightly.
My dentist's skills in dentistry have earned my confidence and commitment as a patient. Yet I hope the messages I get from the administrative team don't make me grind my teeth.
How did you react to my dentist's email? Did it remind you of any messages you receive?