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How to craft an email that gets a reply

| July 31, 2012

by Jim Bruce

For today’s Tuesday Reading, I thought we might revisit the topic of email.  The piece, “How to craft an email that gets a reply, which appeared at the business blog, arrived along with a batch of email that seemed to violate its principles and reminded me of the importance of taking the time to write good email.

The author, Dave Johnson – who worked for Microsoft from 2004 to earlier this year, has written three dozen books and covered technology for a long list of magazines that include PC World and Wired – suggests we follow five simple rules:

1.  Make it clear who the message is addressed to.  If it’s a request for action or information, one person in the “To” field.  More than that reduces the likelihood that anyone will act.

2.  Put the bottom line up front.  Get your request into the first sentence.  Provide the details afterward.

3.  Formatting matters.  Long dense paragraphs discourage reading.  Use short paragraphs.  Guide the reader along.  Use bolding to lead the reader to the next point.

4.  Be clear and specific.  Say what you need, when you need it, and who should provide it.  Don’t play a guessing game with your reader.

5.  Be as brief as possible.  Take the time and energy to simplify your request to the bare essentials.

As you write your email today, remember these five rules.  I believe you will see the results.


Have a great week.  .  .  .  .    jim