Write excellent letters, for both email and snail mail, with a few simple tricks.

Most people’s inboxes are overloaded, which is why everyone appreciates succinct emails. So, how can you write emails that grab your reader’s attention from the first word?

It all starts with your subject line, which is your only chance to set yourself apart from the rest of the inbox. Regardless of whether your approach here is formal or casual, it has to get the person’s attention, as in the subject line, “Are your customers happy?”

Next comes your tone, which is another key aspect because the tone of digital communications can easily be misinterpreted. The subject that starts an email and the signoff that ends it are both great places to set a positive tone for the whole message. As an example, your subject could read, “Thanks so much, everyone!” and your signoff could be “Cheers.”

The third trick is to get to the point quickly and write only what’s relevant. To achieve this, you should try to cut half of what you initially write.

Finally, etiquette is key. If you want someone to take action, don’t list more than one recipient, as doing so will blur who’s responsible.

Of course, some situations call for a more personal touch, which is where paper letters come in. To really nail them, keep a few things in mind:

First, your salutation should always be handwritten, and second, you should begin with a direct and succinct first sentence that acts like a title to an article. For example, you could write, “James Brown has informed us of issues concerning the HR department.”

If you’re asking for something specific, you should start with what you want, explain why you want it and end by expressing your appreciation. In your last paragraph, you should explicitly state what action should be taken. So, rather than ending with, “looking forward to hearing from you,” end with “please notify us of your decision by June 8th.”

The final step is the signoff, which should remain conventional and match your tone. Good formal options are “sincerely” and “cordially,” while “regards” and “best wishes” are better in a more casual context.

 

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