Five Tips to Writing Effective Email

03.08.2013 | Christie Melby

As an intern at Communiqué, I am only in the office three times a week. Because of this, I must effectively communicate with our team while I am in the office. As with most workplaces, our main source of communication at Communiqué is email. Because of this, we have a large amount of email coming through our inboxes each day –most people can relate.

Because of the large volume and my limited hours, it is critical that my emails both catch people’s attention and effectively communicate their message to the team, since oftentimes I won’t be in the office to follow up right away.

In the pursuit of understanding how to most effectively craft emails, I came across “Write E-mails That People Won’t Ignore” on the Harvard Business Review. This search also led me to find other useful suggestions at Forbes and CBSNews. Based on these resources, I compiled a list of best practices for drafting an effective email.

1.)   Stick to standard capitalization and punctuation. Harvard Business Review

When writing an email, conventions may be one of your last priorities. Punctuation and grammar might seem irrelevant and time consuming in the midst of a busy day, but they are important when drafting an email. If you choose to skip this step, your email can come across as rushed and careless, which will affect the way it’s received. If you weren’t willing to take the extra time to write your email with proper grammar, why would the recipient take their time to thoughtfully read it?

Additionally, punctuation and grammar are integral in conveying a message. If you neglect these conventions, the point of your email might get lost in translation – meaning you will probably need to follow up and clarify items, taking you a lot more time than you might have initially spent if you slowed down on your first draft.

1)     When emotions rise, slow down. Forbes

If you receive a rude email from someone that gets you fired up, the best thing to do is ignore it for a while. Depicting tone in an email is extremely difficult and can lead to emotions escalating too quickly. Take a break from the thread to calm down and gain better perspective on the situation so that you don’t send something you will later regret.  

2)      Don’t resend unanswered mail. Forbes

In the PR industry, pitches are constantly being sent to journalists and reporters – and it isn’t uncommon that we don’t receive a response. If time passes and you don’t receive a response,   do not forward the same exact email – if a reporter or journalist has already seen and deleted the email, this practice can be impersonal and spam-like.

Instead, try sending an email that says, “I know you’ve been busy, did you happen to get an opportunity to see the note I sent you about ___?” This is a respectful way to remind the recipient about the note, and gives them an opportunity to articulate their disinterest or interest.

This applies across the board, not only in PR. A polite note saying, “I’m bringing this to the top of your inbox because I know you’re busy and don’t want you to have to sift to find this. Have you had time to think about ___?” is an excellent way to gently remind someone about an action item or deliverable.

3)      Keep the subject line relevant.  CBSNews

If an email thread continues for a long period of time, chances are the subject line no longer matches the content of the messages.   Take the time to change the subject line of the email thread to make it relevant to the current discussion. Not only will this help both you and recipients stay organized, but it will catch the attention of people who might file the email away not understanding the content of the thread or their involvement based on an inaccurate subject line.

4)     Consider mobile viewers. Communiqué  PR

Email is frequently checked on mobile devices rather than desktop computers. Having long pieces of text can be very daunting, especially when seen on a mobile phone screen. An email that is made up of long paragraphs and requires a lot of scrolling on a mobile device is likely going to be skimmed or ignored. Breaking up an email into shorter paragraphs, bullets, numbers and lists makes the text more approachable and easier to absorb—this applies to both mobile and desktop viewers. Considering what an email might look like on a mobile phone will help you design a message that gets to the point without disregarding important aspects.

Composing an effective email is extremely important – it’s a primary avenue for information around the world. Take the time to communicate your message effectively by considering the best practices given above.

For more helpful tips on emails view the CPR Blog:



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  1. […] of a standardized business memo format, target audience, specific input, writing skills, etc.  Here is an article titled “Five tips to Writing Effective Email” by Christy Melby, an intern […]

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