Are you making crucial mistakes with your emails?

It’s been around a long time, but many people still make basic mistakes—and messages get lost or crucial actions fall by the wayside as a result. Here’s what to keep in mind.

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You’ve made up your mind about email: It’s tremendously convenient, or it’s jarringly intrusive.

Regardless, it’s virtually inescapable, especially in the professional world. In online publishing, it’s essential.

When I edit stories for our websites, it matters not a whit whether I’m sending my revisions, trims and other assorted meddlings to an author in Scandinavia or 10 feet away—it’s going as an email attachment.

Every workplace has its idiosyncrasies, of course, and every work team has its shorthand. Still, certain protocols and, dare I say, courtesies prevail—or they should—in the interest of landing your message clearly and with minimal friction.

Here are some ideas for making the most of email exchanges:

Start with a salutation

When beginning a message chain, especially in the morning, a little “hello” or “TGIF” goes a long way.

Length/focus

Ideally, you should keep emails concise. Heck, you should keep everything as concise as possible; people are busy.

Choose one topic (with maybe a few related offshoots) and stick to it. The central topic below is Paul’s vacation; the offshoots are the delegated responsibilities:

Hi, all.

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