enable us to communicate instantly, but the ease and spontaneity of communication
can present us with a multitude of digital dilemmas.
More formal than a text
message and less formal than a letter, emails are quick and convenient. They
should, however, be approached with the same care and attention that a more
traditional form of written communication would receive.
Always include a proper
salutation at the beginning of an email (i.e. "Dear Mr Debrett"). Formal emails
mimic letters, but for most emails, sign-offs such as "Best wishes" or "Thanks"
are quite acceptable.
Beware of using capital
letters too often; use italics or underlining for emphasis. Don't litter emails
with exclamation marks, and avoid abbreviations or emoticons for business
Be cautious of sarcasm and
subtle humour, unless you know that the reader will "get it". If in doubt, err
towards the polite and formal. Similarly, think carefully before hitting "send"
if your email is written in haste or when emotions are running high.
Use "reply all"
discriminately and don't spam friends and colleagues. Don't overload your emails
with system-slowing extras.
Texts are for conveying
short, instant messages. Important information may need a more lengthy
explanation; if in doubt, send an email where you have more flexibility and
space. Texting is a blunt instrument – do not send a text message if tact or
subtlety is required.
Use as much conventional
grammar, punctuation and spelling as necessary to ensure that you make yourself
clear. Tailor your text message to the recipient – using abbreviated language and
emoticons may look unprofessional or confuse a recipient not used to them.
If you have to cancel an
appointment or communicate some important information, make a phone call. Don't
let the convenience of texting be an excuse for always being late and never
respond to bad news by text message. A handwritten letter or a phone call is
In business, sign off with
your name. Your recipient may not have your contact details stored in their