by Rebekah Kati, Head Editor, INALJ North Carolina
Don’t stress about professional emails: 3 tips for success
My first librarian job was also my first full time job. I was excited to start – but also terrified that I would do something wrong! One of the things that I was most anxious about was sending professional emails. Of course I had sent many emails as a student, but I felt that writing emails as a professional would be different.
Below are three tips that I’ve learned since I started work. Of course, workplaces will have different email cultures, but these general rules should help reduce any stress that you might have!
Make use of white space
Break up your thoughts into small chunks. A paragraph of two to three sentences is much easier to read than a big block of text. Also, be as concise as possible. Your recipient likely receives many emails in a day and may not have time to read a long treatise.
Use indentation or bold text as emphasis, not caps
This probably goes without saying to such a tech savvy group, but don’t use all capital letters as emphasis. This is considered to be equivalent to shouting. Instead, use indentation or bold text to make your point.
Example: This text is indented! Doesn’t it stand out?
Tone is tricky!
The hardest part of writing a professional email is tone and it takes years to perfect. Email does not have the context obtained by body language and facial expressions, and sometimes a point intended to be firm or direct could be taken as rude or insulting to the recipient. Whenever I need to write an email of this nature, I typically write a draft or two, and then let the email sit for awhile. After I return, I can look at the email with a more critical and objective eye. Also, it helps to write multiple drafts if the email is important. Of course, one should never send an email while mad!