4 e-mail don’ts

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in Office Technology

We’re not the e-mail aficionados we believe we are. Too many of us rush, miss chances to build relationships or forget to convey key information.

Four mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t use vague subject lines. Swear off “Meeting,” “Update” and “Question.” Better: “See you at 10 a.m. Tuesday with report in hand.”

2. Don’t bury the news. Put dates, deadlines and deliverables in the first one to three lines of the message.

3. Don’t mash everything into a paragraph.
Bulk keeps readers from reading. Instead, limit paragraphs to three to five lines. Open each paragraph with a bottom-line sentence.

4. Don’t cut it short, even when a longer message would work best. Don’t fear long e-mails, but outline your structure.

A “mapping statement” allows readers to skim for key information. Example: “I’ve included information, below, on the background, costs, schedule and possible problems.”

— Adapted from “Top Ten Mistakes Managers Make With Email,” Tim Flood, The Wall Street Journal.

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