Chapter 5

Editing Your Email

Consider the days of typewriters, when a businessperson would type a letter, then maybe retype it, address an envelope, lick a stamp, and find a mailbox. A typed, and maybe retyped, letter tended to elicit from its writer a greater commitment to editing than the average email does today.

There is much to recommend email efficiency, but for email that matters, the best approach is to treat it with the same care you would give to a printed, mailed letter or companywide memo. Plan your structure carefully, revise after you write, proofread, print, reread, and, if necessary, revise, print, and reread again. The more careful habits of the typewriter age can ensure greater professionalism and effectiveness in the email age, too.

Before you click “Send,” check your email not only for organization, as discussed in the preceding chapter, but also for sentence structure, word choice, and grammar. Problems in these areas are responsible for much of the lack of clarity in business email today.

Some emailers are concerned that they are too slow. They look around and see people flinging out five email messages in the time that it takes them to write one. Unless you aren’t getting your work done, don’t concern yourself with this discrepancy. Many of the people who are shipping out email messages as fast as they can type should slow down, and some of the very best emailers are those who compose and edit with care. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare.