#EngTips: Basic etiquette in writing letters and emails

Imagine the following situation and tell us what you think.

There’s a new email in my inbox from some unknown address, with a blank subject? Do you think it’s worth reading?

Okay. So, curiosity got the better of me and I read it anyway. Nothing was written in it, save for 1 file in the attachment. What would you do?

@DaLonGxxi: it looks suspicious .. it might be a link some hacker has created to hack the account ..

@AwesomeChaser: A big no. I will just delete it even without opening the email.

People used to hand-write their letters and send them by post. However, to save cost and to cut on the use of papers, more prefer to correspond by emails nowadays. Letters and emails alike are tools of communication. Think of them as written communication.

Letter writing is an important life skill, especially in the digital era. It has the potential to affect your reputation and credibility. So, check out these basic e-mail etiquette.

 

1. State the purpose or main issue of your email in the Subject box.

Subject is the first thing people see, they would either read your email or ignore it altogether. It gives a brief idea of what your email is about.

 

2. Always start with a salutation.

In verbal communication, “salutation” is the part where we greet someone. This simple point can help build a good first impression. The most common salutation used is “Dear…,”.

  • If you only know the gender of the recipient, not the name, you can start with “Dear Madam/Sir/Miss,” Do pick one of the three.
  • If you know the name of the recipient, you can write his/her name with a title. Example: “Dear Mr. Jones,”
  • If you aren’t writing to a specific contact person, or if you have no idea whom you’re writing to,  you can start with “To whom it may concern,”
  • If you’re writing a semi-formal letter you may use “Hello,” or “Hi,” or even “Hey,” for informal greetings.

 

3. Depending on whom you’re writing to, you might start by asking after his/her well-being.

Or if you’re writing a more formal email, you might want to skip the small talk and get straight to the point.

 

4. Organize your thoughts and put them into writing.

If you can help it, divide the content into paragraphs, grouped by topics/ideas. That would definitely help keep the reader’s attention.

 

5. Thank the recipient.

For the time and effort to read your email, it wouldn’t hurt to add a “thank you” on the last paragraph of your email.

 

6. Be polite and use a complimentary close.

To end your letter on a good note, use a complimentary close. Of course, followed by your name.

  • For formal letters, stick to “Sincerely yours,” “Kindest regards,” or “Best wishes,”
  • For semi-formal letters, you can end them with “Sincerely,” or “Regards,”.
  • It’s not unheard of to end letters with “Love,” “Affectionately,” or “Fondly,” especially in ones for loved ones or close friends.

 

All these points might either sound a lot or even trivial for some people, but believe me, these basic etiquette not only shows how well-mannered and civilized you are, but also how much you respect, care about and appreciate the recipient. Yes… Even if you’re only writing to friends or relatives.

 

Do you have any other pet peeves when it comes to emails? Or do you have other tips on how to write a ‘good’ email? Feel free to mention us on Twitter or leave a comment in the box below.

 

Compiled and written by @Miss_Qiak at @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, August 14, 2014

 


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^MQ

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8 responses to “#EngTips: Basic etiquette in writing letters and emails

  1. Please do not use “Kindest regards”, it’s not a normal salutation.
    “regards, with regards”. are more appropriate use of the word regards.
    when learning letter writing at school, we were taught to use, in a formal letter, yours respectfully, yours faithfully, yours sincerely, yours truthfully. to family you can use “with love or just love.

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