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What's Your E-Mail IQ?

April 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 104

Knowing the rules of e-mail and having a few tips to make it easier to write and manage e-mail can increase productivity and effectiveness.

Here's a quick quiz on e-mail. Feel free to use it as a tool for training employees to write and manage e-mail more efficiently. Answer True or False to each statement.

  1. KISSing an email means to keep it short and simple.
  2. The most important part of an e-mail is the subject line.
  3. Every email needs a signature with contact information.
  4. The tone of an email must be courteous and professional.
  5. Never respond to an email when you are angry or annoyed.
  6. Use Cc for people who do not need to take action.
  7. It's okay to use smilies and text message abbreviations.
  8. Grammar, punctuation and spelling need to be correct.
  9. You can use ALL CAPITALS for emphasis.

Let's see how you did!

  1. True: KISSing an email means to keep it short and simple. Short is beset for e-mail. Many people will only scroll once before they give up, so put the most important information at the beginning of the e-mail.
  2. True: The most important part of an e-mail is the subject line. Don't throw away the subject line. Many people use it to prioritize what they read first--and last! I recommend using a keyword in the subject line that tells the reader what you want him or her to do. here are some keywords to put in the subject line: "Review" for documents you want reviewed. "Decide" for decisions to be made. "Approve" when you want something approved. Avoid "FYI" since most people ignore this.
  3. True: Every e-mail needs a signature with contact information. At the minimum, the signature should include your name and/or the name of your department, your title if you use your name and contact phone numbers.
  4. True. The tone of an e-mail must be courteous and professional. Tone is what you hear when you read. Use please and thank you; make requests rather than bark orders. Short sentences are punchy and can seem abrupt and offensive. Lengthen your sentences for a softer tone.
  5. True: Never respond to an e-mail when you are angry or annoyed. If you are upset, your e-mails will have an angry tone. Cool off, especially if you are upset with the person you are writing to.
  6. True. Use CC for people who do not need to take action. When you use CC, you are telling the person they do not have to read the e-mail. Use To if you want it read.
  7. False. It's okay to use smilies and text message abbreviations. You may only use smilies in the most casual e-mails. Smiles are not appropriate for business e-mails and e-mails going outside your organization. Text messaging is fine for e-mail conversations, not for business e-mails that go outside the company. Just make sure everyone knows what the abbreviation means. Some people think LOL means little old lady.
  8. True. Grammar, punctuation and spelling need to be correct. Make sure you turn on spell check. Create important e-mails or e-mails with high visibility in Word, so you can both spell and grammar check. Copy and paste into the e-mail template only when it is perfect.
  9. False. You can't use ALL CAPITALS for emphasis. Using all capitals is shouting at the reader. Use bold or italics for emphasis. Save underlining for hyperlinks and urls.

How did you do? Writing e-mail offers unique challenges. The tips in this article can help you and your employees write e-mails that mean business.

Patricia Haddock is a communications consultant and trainer with more than 20 years of experience. She teaches business writing and professional development workshops for employees at major corporations, academic institutions and government entities. She offers a workshop on Writing and Managing E-mail for Results.

Patricia has authored more than 600 magazine articles and 11 books, including "The Time Management Workshop" - AMACOM, "Leadership Skills for Women" -- Crisp Learning, "Developing as a Professional" - Crisp Learning, "Office Management: A Productivity and Effectiveness Guide" -- Crisp Learning.

Contact Patricia at to discuss your learning and development needs.

Source: EzineArticles
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