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Stephanie's Business Writing Tips


Put deadlines in your first paragraph, not your last. You'll get much better cooperation!
Busy readers often skip final paragraphs in email and letters. Or, if the reader does read the last paragraph, his or her eyes often don't carry the content to the brain. Don't let readers ignore your deadlines. Put them in the first paragraph.
Sound customer-friendly from the get-go
First, make sure to greet your reader and use his or her name when you begin an email conversation. Here are some good examples: Good morning Sam; Hi Lorraine; Hello Ms. Sanders. This tactic engages your reader by showing respect and courtesy right from the beginning.

Second, use pleasantries like please, thank you, I hope you can use, I need your help in the first paragraph of an email or letter. Your reader will want to react positively to you and your message.

The overall result? You'll get fast, pleasant response to every email and letter you write.
Contemplate your navel
In American English, periods and commas are innies, not outies. Place them inside of quotation marks, even in a sentence like this: He said "innovate" but I think he meant "enervate."
Don't use the word myself
Use the word me if you're receiving action: Please call me if you'd like to meet before Friday, not Please call myself.
Punctuate complete dates correctly
In a complete date, use commas on each side of the year: The deadline is March 23, 2008, with no exceptions. Regardless of how your co-workers may punctuate dates, this rule hasn't changed since you first learned it, probably in the second grade.
Summarize any email string
Always tell your reader why you're forwarding a whole string of email. And make sure to briefly summarize its content. Remember, FYI is not a summary. Nor is See below or Thought you'd be interested.
Keep sentences short, but vary their length
Your goal is to help your reader understand everything you write quickly and easily.
Aim for an average sentence length of less than 15 words per email or letter. Don't worry: this gives you plenty of room for a long sentence or two among the shorter ones.

To see the average sentence length of any email or letter, use
this 1-time set up for any Word document:

1. Open the letter in Word or import the email into Word
2. Click on Tools
3. Click on Options
4. Click on Grammar and Spelling tab
5. Check the 1st, 3rd, and 4th boxes under Grammar
6. Click on Settings
7. Click OK, which will take you back to Options
8. Click OK

After each spell check, you'll get a pop up box with your readability statistics. Look for "Words per sentence," which will give you the average sentence length.

Use a conversational tone to get and keep your reader's interest
  • Use I, we, you, your, our, and me.
    Research shows that personal pronouns keep the reader's mind on your message.

  • Supervisors, don't insist on tone clones.
    Let an enthusiastic person sound personal and use I and we; let a more formal
    person sound neutral and use the department name instead. As long as the purpose
    is clear and the facts are accurate and readable, you can let individual personalities
    emerge.

  • Don't be afraid of contractions.
    Contractions sound conversational and help your reader hear your words as
    well as see them.

  • Use but, and, or in odd places.
    To transition from the previous thought, you can begin a sentence with an and
    or a butor even an or. This conversational sound will involve your reader
    in your message.

  • Eubanks Business Writing
    869 Bow Maker Trail, Cottonwood, AZ 86326
    928.634.7922

    stephanie@eubanksbusinesswriting.com

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