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Writing Course Lesson One

This is the first of five lessons on email writing offered to you by BEHQ. Since email is such an important tool in international business, it is essential that you know how to use it correctly.

This first lesson will look briefly at the use, organization, structure and formatting of email writing. The second lesson will look at tone and etiquette in writing emails, a key ingredient of successful business communication.

In lesson three, we will cover some of the common acronyms and e-terms used in today’s ever-changing international business context.

The fourth lesson touches on the use of correct grammar that can apply to email writing. In the final lesson, we review the 10 main Do’s and Don’ts of email writing.

When writing proper emails, you need to pay careful attention to your intended objective and the words you use as well as the layout.

Task 1

Read each statement and decide whether it is good advice or bad advice. Then check our suggested answers.

Good advice Bad advice
1. To save time and be more productive view emails at most twice a day.
2. In your emails, you should have a signature that includes your name, company, email address, phone number and website.
3. Never insert hyperlinks to web addresses in your emails.
4. Use an email when you want a prompt response.
5. Use a meaningful subject line in your emails.
6. It’s best to limit your emails to only one topic.
7. Never begin with a personal greeting.
8. Good emails have lots of graphics.
9. For short emails you can use only the subject line to deliver your message.
10. In formal or semi-formal emails use emoticons, winks for example ;-)), to express your emotions.
11. It’s okay to have fun gossiping in emails and flirting with attractive colleagues.
12. Never ask for a raise or a promotion in an email.

Suggested answers:

1. Good.  This practice takes discipline, but it is well worth it. You may want to check your email first thing in the morning, then later in the day after lunch.
2. Good. A complete signature is an excellent tool for informing external readers about you and your company. Be sure to keep this information up to date.
3. Bad. It sometimes usual to include links in your email. Make sure that any links you use work.
4. Bad. It is preferable to use the telephone when you need to have a quick answer or wish to cancel a meeting.
5. Good. This is very important to making your message clear to readers. Capitalize the subject as you would do for a book, i.e. “Meeting Delayed till Friday.”
6. Good. This focuses your message. Limit the amount of embedding you include in emails since it is easy to lose track of the initial message.
7. Bad. In all kinds of emails it is best to include a personal touch.
8. Bad. The use of graphics and logos should be kept to a minimum because it uses a lot of computer space.
9. Good. This is a good practice to save time.
10. Bad. Keep emoticons for personal correspondence.
11. Bad. It is inappropriate to behave this way in a business context.
12. Good. Asking for a raise or promotion is something you may want to do face-to-face with your employer.


Task 2

Here is a formal email sent to a client about an upcoming meeting. There are nine instances of inappropriate or mistaken use of language. Can you spot them? Then compare what you wrote with our suggested answers.

 

[note]To: Helen Craig     From: Larry    Cc: Jimmy
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 20__
Subject: Are you ready?

Hi Helen,

I was looking forward to our upcoming meeting tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Unfortunately, I have to cancel the meeting because I will be still out of town. I won’t be returning to the office before Monday.

My office is located on Washington Street, between South 5 and South 6 Streets. Please bring your portfolio so we can examine your work. I am sure we will be impressed with the quality of your work. :))

In the meantime, you can learn more about our business services at www.tridentservices.

By the way, I’d like to inform you of new product we are launching.

Bye,

Larry
President
Trident Services[/note]

Suggested answers:


To: Helen Craig
From: Larry – name incomplete
Cc: Jimmy – name incomplete
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 20__
Subject: Bad news Subject line not helpful

Hi Helen,

I was looking forward to our upcoming meeting tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Unfortunately, I have to cancel the meeting because I will still be out of town. I won’t be returning to the office before Monday.Larry should call the client rather send an email.

My office is located on Washington Street, between South 5 and South 6 Streets. Please bring your portfolio so we can examine your work. I am sure we will be impressed with the quality of your work. :))
An emoticon is not appropriate.

In the meantime, you can learn more about our business services at www.tridentservices.
The link is incorrect.

By the way, I’d like to inform you of new product we are launching.
This unnecessarily introduces a new topic.

Bye, The closing is too informal. “Best regards” is more appropriate.

Larry
President
Trident Services
The signature is incomplete. It should include the complete name, company, email address, phone number and website.

Hopefully this brief lesson helps you write a better email. Please email us if you would like us to review your individual emails or help you with our email writing course.

Until Next Time,

Frank Bonkowski & Craig Gonzales