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October 30, 2018


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Bryan Sims

I received an email the other day relating to a product that I used. The email improperly used effects instead of affects. It annoyed me so much, I emailed the CEO to point out the error.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Bryan,

Thanks for your example. I'm very curious to know whether the CEO responded.



Great post, Lynn. This reminds me of two emails in particular - both with typos in the subject line. It grabbed my attention because of those typos alone. I received a marketing email from a craft store with "Sneak Peak" in the subject line (I emailed them, they thanked me). The second email advertised an event for "Christ Tucker." :)

Neale Orinick

When I saw this post my first thought was it might be one of the dozens of letters I have written for dentists around the country and in Canada. It is not. (Whew) The letter you received is why I have been hired to write so many letters and other marketing materials. Thanks for a great post.

Neale O

Bart Rosenberg

Maybe you could work a deal with your dentist: free dental care for expert email composition!

Is my colon correct?


excellent thanks a lot LYNN for feeding us this information.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Kelly,

Those are both perfect examples. Thanks for sharing them.

It was thoughtful of you to let the craft store know about "Sneak Peek."


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Neale, thanks for commenting. Your job sounds important and rewarding.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Bart, good idea! And yes--that colon is correct.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Harish, you are very welcome. Thanks for commenting.



Hi Lynn,

Thanks for sharing this real although incredible message. Your posts are one of the few e-mails I particularly find useful. And I'm in a french-speaking environment (Madagascar)!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Mahenina, you are welcome. Thanks for your thoughtful message.


George Raymond

I glanced at the message as if I were a patient, not a writer. I noticed their friendly tone and their promise to call to reschedule appointments. Then I noticed the new hours were missing. In this first glance, I didn't notice the other faults, which are unfortunately the kinds of forgivable things you see in much business writing these days. But the person who wrote the message would probably be happy to receive some gentle feedback from one of us so they could write a better message the next time.

Yvonne van Grondelle

Hi Lynn,

I do not have an example for you. But would like to make some comments.

I must admit that at first I wasn't too shaken by any mistakes as such. But when you urged me to look for some, I came up with some issues in addition to yours:
- there is no address - 'Dear client,' (or did you simply not include it?)
- no excuses for any inconveniences were made (maybe some clients can only come in at certain times of the day or week).

Furthermore I disagree on your second point - 'In the second sentence, the word this is wrong. It doesn't refer to anything in the previous sentence.'

I think it refers to 'the making of changes', which is singular and can thus be referred to by 'this'.
Am I wrong?

Love the puzzles you present to us!

Yvonne van Grondelle

Being a stickler for detail :~ :

It is not a 'Sneak Peak' nor a 'Sneek Peek' but a 'Sneak Peek'

Stephanie M.

To be fair to your dentist, the email was probably sent from an office assistant, possibly the scheduler, not actually the dentist or any of the people who work on teeth. I would expect office personnel to be more clear and concise in their writing. I assume that is what you meant but you stated your dentist and didn't want to place blame on someone who possibly didn't write the email. :) However, yes, I agree with all the points you make!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi George,

Yes, I looked at the message as a writer, but also as a patient. When I saw "Updated Hours" in the subject, I was very curious. That's what frustrated me and caused me to overanalyze the message.

Two of the errors I pointed out are minor. But I flagged them because if I don't, readers will point them out for me!

I believe you are right about the gentle feedback. I'm not sure whether I want to move beyond my role as patient at the dentist's office, but I will think about it.

As always, thanks for commenting!


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your questions and comments. Regarding the greeting, it was a mass email, and no greeting was incorporated. I think that's fine. I don't believe "Dear Patient" is necessary.

That's an interesting point about inconveniences. Perhaps the changes were so minor that inconveniences are unlikely. And maybe the staff will address any inconveniences in their phone calls.

Because "we'll be making" is a verb phrase, I don't see it as a proper antecedent for "this." However, I would not have actually noticed this tiny glitch if I weren't presenting the example for discussion here.

Thanks for pointing out "sneek peek" in your second comment. I shouldn't be replying to comments after a long day and a glass of wine, should I? Thanks for giving me the chance to correct it.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for your clarifying point. You are right--the message no doubt comes from administrative staff. The dentist focuses on what he does best.

And yet to patients, the message is from the dentist. That's why I felt justified using the title "An Unimpressive Message From My Dentist."

I appreciate you keeping me honest!


Deb Hofland

Years ago, while working as an office manager in a four person office, my executives asked me to post an ad for an assistant; we were very clear in our ad as to the nature of the job along with the need for the candidate to demonstrate an ability to write clear business correspondence. Not one applicant had a completely error-free cover letter. I read every letter and noticed that two applicants used the SAME exact cover letter found on-line. One gal turned out to be one of our final applicants; after her interview I clued her in that I was aware of her use of an on-line cover letter. My two executives ended up NOT selecting her for other reasons, but at least I was able to advise her (sweetly) to use on-line letters cautiously and "make them your own".

I do a LOT of email writing (school secretary) to parents and am as careful as possible with proof-reading before hitting send. Inevitably mistakes get overlooked in the rush of a school day. On behalf of all assistants, office managers, etc, I beg forgiveness for our errors--and promise not to take too seriously the ones I see in parent emails as well!


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Deb, thank you so much for telling us about the job applicants. It's amazing that not one applicant had an error-free letter. Of course, some errors are more egregious than others, but I would have expected at least one person to have a perfect presentation.

Thank you also for mentioning the cover letters taken directly from the web. You have given me an idea for a future blog post.


Dr Roze

Amaizing and informative.
Thanks for sharing.

Dr. Arin Ratavosi

Great post along with great tips! This posting is very valuable and a good choice for us. Thanks for revealing valuable data.

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