Is Bad Grammar Okay in Email?

A few months ago I gave a speech at the Twinsburg Chamber on Making the Most of your Online Presence. In my speech I talked about the importance of content that uses small words, short sentences, bullet points and a customer focused message.

Someone in the audience asked if the same could be said for email.

Although email is a little different, keeping your message focused is important. Unfortunately, I witness email messages that are devoid of a salutation, punctuation, complete sentences and include misspelled words and even wrong words.

People aren’t taking the time to proof read what they send. It appears as though most writing emails feel like it is unnecessary to take the time to craft a well written message. In our hurry to just get on with it and get to the point, we are becoming sloppy in our communications.

Bob Bly recently asked the question Is E-Mail creating a National of Bad Writers.

My answer is “yes.” We are becoming sloppy. He reminds us of a day (not so long ago) when bosses dictated their letters to secretaries who typed them, made corrections based on the boss’s red lined edits and created a copy for the file with carbon paper and then placed them in an envelope to be on their way.

With email, a similar attention to detail will set you apart. Here are just a few tips I’d recommend when writing an email:

1. Put something in the subject line that encompasses the key message

2. Greet the recipient by name (Dear Sue or Sue,)

3. Use complete sentences, check for spelling and grammatical errors; read aloud to ensure your sentences aren’t missing a word or that you didn’t use “you” when you meant to type “your.”

4. Get to the point and limit the message to one point. Many people file the emails with their project folders and if you combine a variety of topics it makes it difficult to file. It also makes it challenging to respond.

5. If there is a time factor – state it early and also in the end of your message (please respond by December 6th)

6. Sign your message. (Sincerely, DCB or Thanks in advance, DCB or Take care, DCB)

7. Reread it one more time before you hit send. Once it’s gone – it’s gone!

8. Limit the use of CAPS, BOLD and multiple colors. Unlike the boy who cried wolf – use it when you really need it.

9. Don’t rely on your spell checker function – it won’t catch the wrong word being used.

There you go – what else do you prefer when writing/reading email messages?

David Lee

David Lee

David is a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and investor. He has built and exited successful businesses and is now focused on investing. He holds a master's in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.