How to Write Effective Email – Tip 1A

Some of the email I get is so badly composed I worry that a lot of people don’t get the help they need because they don’t know how to ask for it. I’ve decided to put together a few tips for writing email.

Tip 1A. Get to the point.

State the purpose of your email in the first sentence. Just say flat out who you are and what you’re writing about and what you want from the person. I know you think you have to sell them on it first, or ease into it, but taking too long to get to the point increases the chances that the person won’t read through to whatever it is you’re writing about.

Let people know right away why you’re writing them so they can read the rest of the email with that understanding. It’s disorienting otherwise. You’re reading and reading and you don’t know why. Sometimes when I finally learn why someone has written me I have to reread the email in that light (not fun when you get a lot of email). Some people never tell me. Don’t assume that your reason for writing is obvious, or that the person will figure it out and offer what you need without your having to ask. Tell them that at the start.

Tip 1B here.

NOTE: There are exceptions to every rule and every tip I’m going to give, of course. But breaking the rules is an art. Only the most adept can pull it off.

A garden at Canal Street and the highway that wasn’t there yesterday. Okay, it was, but not too long ago it was much more bare. When did trees have time to grow this high?? Some were at least two stories high! I thought putting a small park there was a bad idea, it was such an unpleasant spot. But now it’s so green and lush and the trees are so big you feel hidden from the surroundings. If I worked in this area I would take my afternoon breaks here, with a cup of tea.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “How to Write Effective Email – Tip 1A

  1. Well, the tree there behind the fence is a redbud. Can’t see the ones across the street, but my guess is that they are redbuds also.

    I have a redbud in my small garden that is now about 16-18 feet tall. I planted it as a two foot tall stick not quite nine years ago. They grow fast for trees, but they also don’t live as long as the really big, slow-growing trees like oaks. They last about 35-45 years at most (of course, 45 years from now I’ll be 100 and not really giving a youknowwhat about the tree).

  2. Oh, I would have LOVED to have you with me on my walk yesterday. I was photographing a bunch of abandoned lots and streets that were particularly green and abundant and I wondered what all the trees and plants were. I’d love to take a botany course.

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