Simple and Easy-Mail

Dear 3040 and Beyond:

Help! I’m in big trouble at work. I just graduated from college and I’m leading a really big project. I want to impress my boss, but he says my emails confuse everyone and that I’m basically doing everything wrong. I was afraid to ask what that means. I have to send out lots of complex information to the people on the project every week, so I can’t help writing so much! Do you have any advice about how to write a great email?


New and Confused

Dear New and Confused,

As a third year business student, I understand how daunting something as simple as an email can be at times. Now that I am beginning to close in on the professional workforce, I have realized that there are certain professional skills, including email, that are essential to your success. Just like with many other forms of communication, it ultimately comes down to keeping it simple and easy to understand. Though it may be overwhelming with all the technicalities and conflicting information found around the internet, as long as you remember to always follow this one rule, your emails will invariably become more effective.

Use Your Subject Line Wisely

More specifically, one of the first keys to writing a great email is to use your subject line wisely. As it is a constant battle for everyone to keep their inbox organized and junk free, it will be extremely useful for

Photo courtesy of Marie-Chantale Turgeon
Photo courtesy of Marie-Chantale Turgeon

your coworkers to know exactly what to expect from your email as they scan through their thousands of other emails. In your case, this would probably include the name of the project you are leading followed by a very brief description of what aspect of the project the email pertains to. By keeping it brief but descriptive, your emails will give the recipients the useful information they need while avoiding looking like spam mail.  

State Your Purpose

Once you have the right subject line to make sure recipients open your email, you then need to tell them your purpose and ultimately why they should continue to read. Since emails are generally meant to be a quick and easy form of communication, it is essential that this information is in the first couple of sentences. If you neglect this, your audience will not know why they are reading your email and move onto one of their many other messages. Conversely, by stating your purpose early on you will save your coworkers time, energy, and confusion.

Take it One Point At a Time

When communicating many complex ideas as you are, it is essential to take it one point at a time. This will ensure that your coworkers have a clear grasp on each concept and are able to easily go back and find what they are looking for. A good way to do this is by using bullet points. These make a clear visual break of the various information and again save your coworkers time and energy. Further, if a recipient does experience any confusion, they will then be able to easily reference which section they need clarification on.

Tell Them What You Need and When You Need It

Near your closing, it is important to give your coworkers a clear direction on what they should be taking away from your email. After reading a lot of different complex information, readers could be feeling confused or overwhelmed. By stating what actions they should take and when those things need to be completed, you will give your coworkers distinct guidance and help foster a more productive team. This will also ensure that project deadlines are being met and constant progress is made. Most importantly, this will establish you as a credible leader and make coworkers feel comfortable coming to you for guidance.


The final key to writing great emails is to proofread! Since you are communicating in a professional setting, it is important to act accordingly. By sending an email filled with errors, you kill much of the personal credibility you have built with your coworkers. Further, this is a simple and easy way to set yourself apart from many of your peers.

I hope these can tips help and you don’t create any more confusion in your emails!

Best Regards,
Nate Roadman


6 thoughts on “Simple and Easy-Mail

  1. Hi toddroadman/Nate Roadman,

    I appreciate your sly mention of credibility right off the bat. By stating that you are a third year business student and approaching the professional workforce, I felt like I could really take your suggestions to heart and improve my professional email writing skills. I also appreciated the layout of your piece. By making the font size bigger of the main ideas, such as “Use Your Subject Line Wisely,” “State Your Purpose,” “Take it One Point At a Time.” etc. This approach I felt made the article very reader friendly. Beyond the initial paragraph and structure of the response, I really enjoyed reading your suggestion about stating your purpose. You moved between the subject line point and this point in a very smooth fashion making the content not overwhelming but extremely helpful. While as you mentioned the subject line holds great importance, it was also helpful to have it noted, “you need to tell them your purpose and ultimately why they should continue to read.” The other suggestions you offered were also great.

    Thanks for sharing your thought,
    Tessa Snow

  2. Hi Todd,
    I really enjoyed that your began your post to New and Confused by simply stating that it ultimately comes down to keeping it simple and easy to understand. This is mainly because in regards to giving New and Confused advice, it focuses on her main issue. I personally talked about how important the use of your subject line is very important, and liked that you touched on that. Your post is very concise and easy to interpret, mainly because you inserted your pictures in smart spots as well as breaking it down into five main categories. Also, the emphasis that you put on proofreading will be very helpful to a new writer in the business world.

  3. The first point that you make in your post is the most important in my opinion and I could not agree more with you. Subject lines are crucial to emails, and most importantly they help to organize your emails. I know that when I am searching through my inbox for an email I generally remember the subject lines much better than the actual content of my email. An effective subject line helps people find the email quickly when they need to refer to it, and also gives the recipients an important insight on what they are about to read. This was a great read and I could not agree more with the points that you made in this post!

  4. You are very relatable in the post, especially because you offer up personal information. Your first paragraph offers a nice roadmap for the rest of your blog post. You have good heading and subheadings that add value to the layout, document design and overall readability. The titles of the subheadings are informative and tell me what to expect, which ultimately helps me understand your argument better. Your image is informative and funny, we can learn from the joke. You have good grammar and sentence structure. You offer good advice that is simple enough to implement, and you are also credible. Very quick-reader friendly.

  5. Hey Nate!
    I really liked how you addressed that you struggle with writing emails for work too. It adds credibility to your advice, and makes you more relatable. Your point about making sure to state your purpose early on is something I find especially helpful when communicating with coworkers. I get a lot of emails for my job and it’s nice to know right away what I’m about to read so that I don’t waste time sorting through unimportant information. Your section on clear direction at the end is also extremely helpful, because it helps eliminate any confusion about what to do going forward. Good work!

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