Writing Effective E-mail

To communicate today, it is important that you know the basics of writing e-mail to represent you — and your company — in the best possible light.

E-mail is a godsend to the entrepreneur. Unfortunately, every spammer, advertiser, and generally annoying communicator known to man also uses it. Your e-mails join at least dozens, and probably hundreds, that the recipient downloads every day. Make it stand out.

When communicating with your clients and peers make your e-mail a joy. Make it welcome.

The Don’ts:

  • Don’t use a “background” graphic that is busy.
  • Don’t use a font that is difficult to read.
  • Don’t use font colors that blend into your stationery.
  • Don’t write long paragraphs
  • Don’t embed “extras” like music and graphics that are unnecessary.
  • Don’t spam for third parties with your signature line.
  • Don’t send out all your mail “receipt requested”. It’s annoying.
  • Don’t mark your communication “high importance” – unless it really is.
  • Don’t routinely forward jokes.
  • Don’t forward links to websites without an explanation of WHY you are sending them.
  • Don’t send attachments without referencing the contents in the body of the e-mail.


  • Use standard serif or san-serif fonts that are classic and easy to read.
  • Use white or “understated” stationery. Overly dark and graphic-laden stationery will make your text disappear and “cutesy” stationery may call your professionalism into question, unless it is directly related to your industry.
  • Use the subject line.
  • Use bullets to convey important information or ask questions that need a response.
  • Keep your text brief and to the point.
  • Utilize paragraphs, and only have two or three sentences in each one.
  • Make sure any links you send work.
  • Check one of the hoax sites before forwarding e-mail on virus alerts, sob-stories and requests for anything – including return e-mail for “school projects”.
  • Virus-check EVERY attachment before sending.
  • Protect your address book and your contacts by keeping your virus definitions up to date.
  • If you forward something of importance or interest, be sure to trim it and edit the formatting. Everyone hates those “eternal” forwards that require multiple clicks or massive scrolling. It wastes time and frustrates your recipients.
  • Inform your contacts that you will never send them a file without referencing it in the body of your e-mail – not just the subject line. Tell them that you do this for THEIR protection, and that although you do your best to avoid contracting or spreading viruses, that nothing is failsafe. Tell them that an attachment from YOU without a descriptive in the e-mail should be an alert of a possible virus. Ask them to delete such an e-mail unopened, and contact you immediately.

Make sure that your recipients look forward to your communications, now and in the future, and that they feel safe receiving e-mail from you.