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Writing Effective Emails – Why Your Subject Line and Signature Matters

Writing Effective Emails – Why Your Subject Line and Signature Matters

Usually while drafting an email, we pay little attention to the subject line and the signature at the end of the email. Some of us even go so far as to leave these fields completely blank, simply writing the text of the email without any subject or signature. Very often, the subject line helps the recipient decide whether or not (s)he should even open the email. The signature reflects courtesy and also, a formal end to the email. Here are our thoughts on the importance of subject lines and signatures – especially when it comes to drafting a Effective Professional Emails.


it has to give enough information that the reader understands what the e-mail is about. For example, a subject that goes “Action required” is ambiguous and unlikely to ring any bells with the reader. A better subject line would be “Assignment Deadline: Action required”, which makes it clear to the reader that the mail is regarding the assignment deadline and he needs to do something about it.

it has to be interesting enough that the user wants to read the rest of the letter. For example, a subject line “Quick question” is unlikely to arouse any interest in the reader and he might dismiss it as irrelevant if he is busy. You probably could have pinged him regarding the “quick question”, right? Instead, “Quick question about Friday’s seminar” gives the reader just enough information on what the question is about and he may go on to read the rest of it. It is important to keep in mind that the subject has to be concise and informative – being too lengthy can annoy the reader, for example, “Quick question on the 3rd day of the first seminar in this quarter on sales held on Friday”. Leave unnecessary details out of the subject line – include them in the text of the e-mail.

The subject line also serves to set the context of the mail. It should make the tone of the mail clear – whether it is a complaint, a query, a request, a congratulatory letter, or something that needs urgent attention. That prepares the reader for the content and he/she can spend more time on the details rather than finding out what the letter is for.

An equally important part of your email is how you end it, i.e. the signature. When writing a formal email, it is important to sign off appropriately. ‘Regards’ or ‘Thanks’ or ‘Best’ are the safest phrases to sign off with. Although smileys like 🙂 are accepted in informal mails, it is best to avoid using these in your business/professional emails. Likewise, avoid phrases that sound forced – ‘Thanks so much!’ might only be apt if it is a request mail.

At the end comes your contact information. When writing Effective Professional Emails, you should write your full name. Avoid signing off with only your first name or a nick name. Provide brief contact details, like your phone number and fax. If the reader does not know you, you should include your designation and the name of the organization. However, refrain from putting in unnecessary detail about yourself. Moreover, avoid putting inspiring quotes or large disclaimer messages or images that might take time to load over slow connections (which also, at times, come across as pretentious or pompous).

The subject and the sign off should be in sync with the tone of your email, so that you communicate yourself effectively.

All the best!

Errors that will send your email to trash – 5 mistakes to avoid

Errors that will send your email to trash – 5 mistakes to avoid

One cannot think about spending a single day at work and not having to interact through emails. Writing perfect professional emails that get you the response you need is an art, with some solid logic behind it. It takes years of practice to get the content and tone of your email precise and professional. Badly worded emails could be straightaway sent to the trash without a second thought. We have put together some tips from our experience that you can keep in mind while writing professional emails so that you do not come across as careless or informal.

1. Improper/Informal Salutation

Make sure that you include proper salutations like ‘Mr.’ or ‘Dr.’ and address the person using his last name. Being on first name basis is considered informal. Also, choose your greetings with care. ‘Hi Dr. Bing’, or ‘Hey’ or ‘Hello’ are considered casual; you should use ‘Dear’ instead. However, depending on how informal your work place is, Hi’s and Hello’s usually work. If you have a friendly HR person around, you could double-check with him/ her.

2. Tone of email

The tone of your email is very important. It is essential not to just translate your thoughts into words, as it might look informal. You have to phrase every thought into a polite and professional sentence. Even if you are writing to file a complaint or express grievances and are very angry, the tone has to remain polite and professional. Never send an email when you are upset, draft it and come back to it after you have calmed down.

3. ‘SMS’ Language

If ‘u rite lyk ths’, then please don’t! We are not sure how writing like that even became a trend, probably at the dawn of the age of cell phones. Anyhow, it is annoying, unprofessional and also, terribly wrong English! Last thing you want is to invoke the wrath of a Grammar Nazi, who also happens to be your boss. You should also be careful to avoid informal acronyms like BTW (by the way), IMHO (in my honest opinion), FYI (for your information), etc. Keep in mind that some acronyms like ASAP (as soon as possible) and PFA (please find attached) are generally accepted in professional emails, but it never hurts to write the full phrase for your reader’s benefit.

4. Typos

Once you have completed writing the mail, read it once or run a spell check to make sure there are no typos. It is easy to make mistakes when you are in a hurry, so you should take some time out and review the mail before sending it. Typos indicate carelessness and negligence and should definitely be avoided at all costs. Also, typos, when spelt really wrong, can get really embarrassing! You know the kind we are hinting at.

5. Choice of font/format

Make sure the font and size of text is uniform throughout, especially if you are pasting text from different sources. Avoid colorful text and other designs unless required. Remove any unnecessary wallpapers or background images. In addition, choose a simple san serif font like Arial or Helvetica. Remember that when the person your email is addressed to, receives your email, he shouldn’t feel like a jack in the box just jumped out at him!

What according to you are some errors that must be avoided at all costs when it comes to drafting a clear and effective professional email? We would love to hear from you 🙂

Writing a Professional Email – The Essentials

Writing a Professional Email – The Essentials

With our lives becoming increasingly technocratic, e-mail communications are a vital part of the workplace today.  A typical day in office almost always includes hours combing through emails. Embarrassing errors in the writing and style of your emails could prove to be detrimental to your professional life. Clicking ‘reply’, typing up a quick message, and hitting ‘send’ without giving it much thought, the way you would do for text messages, is not the best course of action. Here are some pointers we have come up with for what a professional email should consist of.

Professional email address

coolboy_007@gmail.com is not an email id you could use and expect to be taken seriously beyond your grad school. Your email id should let the recipient know your name at the very least.

Concise and direct subject line

The subject line would be used by the reader to gauge the contents of the email. Many times, for those with little time for emails, subject line could be used to decide whether they wish to read the mail. Therefore, it is imperative to use a subject line that tells them it’s worth their time. ‘Meeting time changed’, ‘Suggestions for the project’, ‘Regarding positions with your group’ would be examples of appropriate subject lines to use.

Brief introduction

Introduce yourself if it is the first time you are writing to someone. A small paragraph with clear points about your background is helpful to someone reading your email in order to form some context to the conversation.

Timely responses

It is good practice to be prompt in replying to e-mails. Depending on the nature of the e-mail and the sender, responding within 24 to 48 hours is acceptable. If an email requires elaborate research before replying for which you don’t have time on hand, you could always send in a mail giving the sender an idea of when you could get back to them with further details. It is polite and professional to do so.

No one-liners

‘Thanks’, ‘ OK’ and ‘Bye’ and other such one liners that do not advance the conversation in any way should be avoided in email conversations. You could also indicate that no reply is needed in your e-mail in the first place when you don’t anticipate a response.

Auto responder

Use an auto responder if you would be away from email for a significant amount of time (could vary from 3 days to 3 months depending on what your position is). Include details like when the sender could expect a reply from you and also an emergency contact in case it is urgent and cannot wait till you are back.

Exclamation marks!

Exclamation marks are best left out of professional mails. If and when it is necessary for you to use an exclamation, it is best to have just one exclamation at the end of the sentence, not several.

Professional salutations

Colloquial salutations are best to avoid in the professional sphere. ‘Hey’ is rather informal and should be replaced with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. Shortening names without knowing if the other person prefers it is also not advisable.

When in doubt, leave out humor

Humor could easily be misinterpreted in the written form of communication. It’s best to leave out the odd joke out of emails unless you know the recipient really well. What you think is funny, might not be as funny to someone else!

Spell Check

Errors not noticed by you won’t go unnoticed by the recipients of your email. You could well be judged for your errors by the recipients. Its best to proof read the emails before clicking send. Relying on spell-checkers is a bad idea as well. It may be a good practice to put in the recipient’s email address after you are done with the text of the email. You would not want to accidentally hit send on an unfinished mail and come across as unprofessional.

We may think that a person can judge our tone only if it’s a one-to-one or telephonic conversation. However, that is seldom the case. When you send an email, the receiver is actually listening to you speak, in a way. Write in a way the reader remembers you for your impeccable writing style!