How many of you struggle when formatting a letter, email or basic correspondence? You are not alone! Many of us have never had any formal training when it comes to what to say, the information necessary to include and how to make your writing clear, concise and diplomatic. Here are some tips for letter/email writing.
Know your audience. Who are you writing to and why? If you jot this down first, this note to self will keep you on track when providing details, questions, and concerns.
Do not enter the recipient's email address until you have re-read your email or asked for a second set of eyes to look at your work. This will eliminate the risk of accidentally sending an email before it is complete.
When beginning your letter/email always try to have a specific address and person to direct it to. This means doing your homework. Call the office and ask what the manager’s name is. Also, Google the correct, full mailing address and include this under the date on the left hand side of the page. If you know the manager’s name, include “Att:” and their name under the full mailing address.
Avoid using “To whom it may concern,” as this illustrates you have not taken the time to learn about the company, staff, or person to where the letter/email is directed.
In order to present your ideas clearly, take the notes you jotted down before starting and look at them again. What is it that you need to say in order to make your point clear? Should you provide a couple sentences that demonstrate why you are contacting them and how they can help you? Are you trying to relay necessary information and is this information better if listed in point form? This is where knowing your audience is important. It will help you determine how to present your information.
Make sure that your paragraphs do not run on. Clear and focused writing is key as you do not want to waste anyone’s time (including your own). Sometimes writing a point form outline of the items you want to get across will help you determine what to write in each paragraph.
Try not to make your letter/email long. The more specific and detailed you can get, the better. “Sum it up in the least amount of words possible,” is what I always say to my students!!
Read your letter/email out loud to yourself. If there is a word or phrase that just doesn’t sit right, re-write it. Look for wording or phrasing that could be offensive even if you don’t mean it that way and again, re-write it.
Don’t use emojis, “LOL,” any short form or acronyms that your audience may not understand. When in doubt, eliminate it.
Conclude your letter/ email by thanking that individual for their time and with the details of how that person can contact you. Including both email and phone number is great as most individuals will have their own preference.
If you are looking for more information on how to increase your writing skills, we would be happy to help you at the Academy of Learning Edmonton West located at The Marketplace at Callingwood. We have many short courses you can take that will teach you the finer points of creating documents, punctuation and writing skills as well as grammar. We are here to see you be successful!
We look forward to seeing you soon. Call us today at 780-496-9428.