I just got done reading Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. A fantastic read on how to make the most of email. I, like most of you have used email for a long time, though I don’t think I ever went through some sort of formal class or training on how to write email. In school we learn about spelling, grammar, how to write an essay, research papers, how to footnote, reference and all manner of rules and styles around formal writing. But email it seems we take for granted.
Its assumed that everyone knows the rules for using email and how to use it effectively. When was the last time you saw a class at your university or provided through your employer on writing effective email? It seems odd, because in today’s high tech world we spend large volumes of time in front of the computer writing email, using IM and texting.
The authors of Send, David and Will, are editors for the NY Times and Hyperion Books respectively. Their book provides lots of insight and is written in a very easy to understand and humorous tone.
One of the things I never used except on rare occasions was the Exclamation Point ‘!’. I always felt it tended to overstate things. However the authors think that because conveying affect in email is difficult, an exclamation point can help to make your email more human. For example ‘Thanks’ vs ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Hooray’ vs ‘Hooray!’. Without the exclamation point each word sounds kinda flat and almost sarcastic.
There are lots of other such examples and tips in the book, so I highly recommend you read it if you use email for work, or for general correspondence with friends and family.