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Writing Emails Others Will Love

  • 1.  Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-14-2018 15:05

    In my September editorial, I shared some tips from my coworkers on ways to improve the emails you send, such as:

    • Be brief.
    • Don't reply all.
    • Use unique, specific subject lines.
    • Be clear, concise, and to the point.
    I also talked about a point of disagreement: one of my colleagues advised not replying with unnecessary "thank you" emails, but I appreciate a quick "thanks," "got it," or "received."

    What are the top 3 things you wish everyone sending you email would do?

    Cynthia Mascone
    Senior Director of Publications and Editor-in-Chief, CEP

  • 2.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    25 Year AIChE Fellow
    Posted 09-15-2018 01:01
    I agree with all five of your points, Cindy!

    John O'Connell, FAIChE
    Professor Emeritus
    University of Virginia

  • 3.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-15-2018 09:57
    First, I agree with Cindy on the use of frequent "thank yous." They convey appreciation and goodwill, and I consider them some of the most important messages I send. And anyway, my parents taught me to say my pleases and thank yous! I usually send them as a "reply," not "reply to all," unless I feel there is a strong reason for a more public acknowledgment. However, on one occasion I got into trouble for sending a thank you email, because the client I was working for at the time considered it a "marketing" message. I guess his parents didn't teach him the way mine did.

    Two other email dos:

    Read and check your message before you send it. Make sure the recipient(s) will understand what you have written.

    Don't send a message while you are angry or upset. Leave it aside and review it later. Then use the delete button liberally.

    Alan Rossiter
    Energy Engineer
    Bellaire TX

  • 4.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-15-2018 15:31

    Cindy, I completely agree on the "Thanks". I used to drive a few friends 'nuts' at AIChE by the number of times I just said "Thanks".....but I only said it if I meant it and it doesn't take a lot of kb. Good article in CEP.



  • 5.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-17-2018 06:47
    I agree with all your points and am with the others that politeness never goes out of of style. Also, I agree that the "thanks" email can be confirmation of receipt, which is sometimes quite important. I think it's important to add that with all the technology available today, some email should be eliminated. Internally we have Skype messaging, and I know many of my coworkers have my cell number and are comfortable texting. I much prefer these communications when the message is brief (even more than your recommendation) or to relieve formality. As commented, proper grammar and self-review should be observed in email, so sometimes other communications can help remove that requirement a bit (only a bit since we need to be communicating in English, I'm not a fan of "text talk", but my coworkers know this).

    Elizabeth Sendich
    Industrial Sector Analyst
    U.S. Energy Information Administration

  • 6.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-18-2018 08:20
    As a septuagenarian, I panic when I see just a person's name in the Subject line.

    Subject:  Cynthia Mascone



    New boat?

    Please, please, add another word or two when the Subject is a person.

    Subject:  Cynthia Mascone - Receives Speeding Ticket

    or Subject: Cynthia Mascone - Alive and Well!

    John Sharland PE,FSFPE
    Bridgewater MA

  • 7.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-18-2018 13:46
    Ha Ha! I hope you didn't just jinx me!

    Cynthia Mascone
    Senior Director of Publications and Editor-in-Chief, CEP

  • 8.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-19-2018 06:24
    Here is another suggestion:

    If you are replying to a secondary point or to a "by the way" item, whenever I can, I change the subject line to reflect the new item.



    Peter Wrampe
    Wilton CT

  • 9.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-18-2018 10:32
    ​These are great tips. I have a couple more I like to use:

    Making liberal use of "delay send"
    It's great for any email where you have a lot of points, a large reply audience, or a bad mood. Sometimes you automatically hit "send" and this saves it in your outbox for "doh, I forgot to say ____."

    Including a call to action
    You probably sent the email because you need something. Provide a follow-up request at the end of your message: "Please submit the latest metrics by Friday 9/21." It helps the email become actionable.

    As far as please/thank you, I use them to help convey tone in email although most business writing classes discourage their use. Like many of the community, I consider these words good manners. However, I do have a limit of one "please" per email because 1) it limits how much I'm asking for in one email and 2) I shouldn't have to beg people to do their jobs.

    Preeti Sharma
    Process Safety Engineer
    Colonial Pipeline Company
    Alpharetta GA

  • 10.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-19-2018 08:50

    ​I love when people write the purpose of the email in the subject line. It helps me filter emails and know what to expect when opening them.


    INFORM: Project Update (this email is going to tell you what's happening)
    REQUEST: Project Update (This email wants you to reply with information)

    Amanda Scalza
    Production Manager
    SC Johnson & Son, Inc.,
    Racine WI

  • 11.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-20-2018 00:10
    Realize that for people trying to manage "maker time" emails are not immediate response communications tools.  If I stop what I'm doing to check my email every time it dings, I'm going to be in Manager Time, not Maker Time.

    I check email at discrete times during the day. If you need to get in touch with me immediately, call or text.

    Steve Cutchen
    US Chemical Safety Board
    Houston TX

  • 12.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-20-2018 09:19
    Hi @Cynthia Mascone,

    Thanks for writing such a positive, informative editorial and for quoting me!

    Also there are some excellent points that have been added to this thread.

    @Elizabeth Sendich - Your point about less email is great. We get so much of it these days and for quick answers, IM (Skype, etc) is a good alternative as long as its not abused as "text talk" like you described it. I often ask myself, "Does this require a response from me and right now?"

    @Preeti Sharma - I like your idea of "delay send." On my version of MAC outlook, I unfortunately don't have the ability to schedule an email to be sent at a particular time. But what I often do is write an email and then save it as a draft. Then I send it at a time when I know it won't get buried in an inbox. Also, I try to be polite but I don't overuse the word please as you mentioned. People can often misunderstand the use of "please" to be a snarky attempt to push someone to do something faster. It all depends on the context, so I try to watch this.

    @Amanda Scalza - I love your suggestion and try to do this as much as possible. INFORM:, REQUEST:, and I also use FYI:. Sometimes I just put the whole message in the subject line and end it with <eom>, meaning end of message.

    In general, I try not to copy too many people and very rarely send an email "To:" more than one person. I feel like it's confusing for the recipients.

    Keeping things short (unlike this post :)) is something I struggle with but it has made a difference for me.

    Happy efficient emailing!


    Very Best,

    John Vasko
    Director, Communications & Online Content
    New York NY

  • 13.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-21-2018 10:37
    I use the 3 e-mail rule (if you are on the 3rd back-and-forth reply, stop the e-mail and phone or visit; like the Pirate's Code, it's more of a guideline than a rule, but it's worth thinking about after the 3rd iteration)

    If the e-mail is more than a couple of sentences, I organize the information using the Information Mapping principles of
    • chunking
    • relevance
    • labeling
    • integrated graphics (in particular, bullet points, underlining, bold)
    • consistency
    • accessible detail
    That methodology has a relentless focus on audience and purpose.
    It's a way of thinking for all documents, including e-mails.

    You can find out more about Information Mapping (I have no official affiliation with them, just a student of their approach) at
    Home - Information Mapping

    Gregory Alexander, PhD, PE
    Real World Quality Systems
    Crystal Lake IL

  • 14.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-22-2018 07:10
    Agree with Cynthia. Would like add one point. If the person in known, talk to him directly and you can avoid email if possible. This will develop rapport and better understanding.


  • 15.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-22-2018 13:06
    In my experience Emails should not break any links to original e-mails.

    I had seen particularly my origination, people break the links or omit the sender while replying to e-mails.

    I agree with all the other points.

    Sachin Mahajan ING
    Senior Analyst Production Planning
    Abu Dhabi

  • 16.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-25-2018 01:09
    Kottikumar's observation I fully agree with . Adopt it whenever and with whomsoever it is possible 

    No 4, .4 th Cross, 6 th Street,
    Chennai 600088

  • 17.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-22-2018 08:57
    In brief reply as possible as less words

    Han Li
    vice chief engineer

  • 18.  RE: Writing Emails Others Will Love

    Posted 09-27-2018 04:16
    Helpful - for certain types of emails.

    Email has many communications purposes.  To try to make one set of rules applicable to all rules is a classic case trying to force case lots of randomly shaped into a single round hole.  Some will fit - most won't.

    Some emails are simply just short communication tools. In most cases the rules will work.

    Email is also invaluable, however, for disseminating information and feedback across a team.  For example, there may be a technical issue that involve several aspects of a project, for which input is needed from various parties, and each parties contribution will differ.

    In a single email I can describe the situation, identify issues where I think in put is needed, attach relevant materials, and with the click of  a button send the information to team members in disparate locations.  Often that is far more effective than trying to get everyone together on a web conference.

    And that is going to take a loit more than five sentences.  And as each one posts a reply they can copy everyone else and the whole team stays abreast of the situation.  And since this is done via email, everyone will have in their mailbox the message threads with the information - that's far more efficient than trying to accomplish that via meeting notes.

    IMHO - the important thing is to keep in mind the purpose for the email, then implement rules that are appropriate for that purpose.


    That being said, there are some rules that are universally applicable.

    1. Do be terse. Stay focused and on topic.

    2. Spend the time to be sure the message is logically organized and presented - just as you would with any written presentation.  That's a way of respecting the reader.  Don't make the reader need to study your message to figure out what it is you are trying to stay.  Most won't spend the time anyway.

    Stephen Nelson PE
    Coal Creek Environmental Associates
    Bellevue WA