Email better

These days much of our business correspondence is conducted by e-mail rather than the conventional ‘snail mail’.  Unhappily, certain conventions have been lost or overlooked in the process, and can give rise to abrasion, especially when there are cultural differences involved.

Never forget that anything published on the internet is as permanent as if engraved in stone.


Sloppy layout: Get professional help to establish templates.  If possible, use a header, to make your email look like a regular letterheading.

Spelling/Typing: Always use the spellchecker, but also use an English dictionary (spellcheckers are American)

Grammar: If in doubt, ask someone who knows.  Phrases such as “between you and I” will diminish you in the eyes of some clients.

Forms of address: When approaching a business contact for the first time, it is unwise to write “Hello there” or “Hi” or even “Dear John”. Err on the side of caution.

Opening/Closing: Some emails leave out the salutation altogether.  Others omit the name and title of the sender.  If you are running back and forth with reply after reply on the same topic, and to someone you know well, it’s all right to omit the salutation.

Tone: Again, err on the side of caution.  Don’t be familiar with a client or someone senior, and never write what you may regret the next day.

Conventions: See Opening/Closing.  In some countries you are expected always to use a salutation.

Virus & Junk: In business circles, it is considered very bad manners to send a virus, even by accident, so install and regularly update your virus checking software.  It is also bad form to pass on chain letters, however well-meaning they may be. And never pass on email advertisements.

Divulging addresses: If you send an email to a whole group of unconnected people, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) to avoid exposing others’ email addresses without permission.

Manners: Capital Letters in emails are regarded as SHOUTING.  Use *stars* for emphasis.

For more guidance, or to get your marketing emails professionally written, contact or phone 0845 165 9240.


About phillipkp

I am a wordsmith. I work as a copywriter and trainer in communication skills. For eight years I was Senior Copywriter at Reader's Digest, London, then Creative Director of PKP Communications Limited, a Direct Marketing creative agency. My business background is in speciality selling and direct marketing. In public speaking I have won more titles than anyone in Europe, including UK Champion seven times, and World No.2. Got a speech or presentation to deliver, or a mailing to send out? I can help. Let's meet for copy.
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