“Jennifer, when you taught my team how to write easy to read emails, it decreased my management intervention in email communication by 75%! I could then use this time to more effectively manage the project and do other critical tasks. Thank you!”
How can make my emails easier to read?
Learning to write effective emails is a SKILL. This is regardless if you are a native English speaker or an English as Second Language (ESL or ESOL) learner. Due to this, it takes time and patience to learn how to read, re-read and self edit.
When learning and implementing skills to write easy to read emails, as taught in our e-mail writing program, some of the outcomes are:
the reader of your email will be able to read your email much quicker, sometimes 5-10 times quicker than before
readers will respond quicker because they can read it quicker
you will get your questions answered and requests filled quicker
you will be able to handle more email interactions without manager or colleague intervention
I have seen the transformation and it’s incredible. I am sharing some free tutorials in this post that will help you achieve that aim. Keep in mind that I am available for online, live classes for you or your team. Do get in touch.
How can I format my emails?
The videos will not only walk you through how to use formatting tools in your email client to create lists, but the dos and don’ts of correct punctuation and formatting in these lists.
Note: These tutorials only show how to create the list part of the message, not how to write or format the entire email. In these tutorials I have started by using a list. In many cases, those I coach write the list in a paragraph format in their first draft. If you do this, it’s completely normal. Most people do this. Learn to start writing lists in your emails as lists rather than sentences, which will make this process all the easier. I’ll introduce each video with a comparison of the paragraph format versus starting with a list format (which is not in the video).
So, let’s get started.
Writing Easy to Read Emails (Video Tutorials)
Making a Grocery List in an Email
While making a grocery list is probably not something you would be emailing to a client (unless you were creating an ecommerce website), it’s a good example of how to go about the process of making a list in an email client.
Initially, the content in the list may be written in a sentence, such as:
When you go to the store, could you please pick up these Indian foods: toor dhal, mustard seeds, sambar masala, curry leaves, brinjal, and onions?
Possibly, the entire email could look like this (first draft):
In tomorrow’s Indian cooking class we will be making sambar. I heard from Tom you will be going to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients. When you go to the store, could you please pick up these Indian foods: toor dhal, mustard seeds, sambar masala, curry leaves, brinjal, and onions?
Thank you and do let me know if you have any questions or trouble finding anything.
When writing the ingredients into a list, it may look like this:
In tomorrow’s Indian cooking class we will be making sambar. I heard from Tom you will be going to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients.
These are the ingredients to make sambar:
Will it be possible for you to pick them up? Thank you and do let me know if you have any questions or trouble finding anything.
Take a look at how these two emails look on mobile.
Email without format – not so easy to pick out the main content
How to format an email for maximum effectiveness
In your opinion, which email is easier to read? Most would say the second email. Some may respond that the second email may not be preferred because it seems too long. However, keep in this in mind; if Debbie reads this email on her mobile, she could easily take a screenshot of the list (as shown below), and have this handy, easy to read text when she’s at the store to assure she has all the ingredients. It may not be as quick to read and check off in a sentence format. What do you think?
In the tutorials below, I walk you through how to use the email formatting tools to create these lists. I talk about the differences between bulleted and numbered lists and important dos and don’ts for perfectly formatted lists that will make your emails stand out. What is missing from the tutorials is what you read above – how to open the email, how to have the request or “call to action” at the end, and how to use English and spacing properly in the entire flow of the email to make it easier to read, get a good flow and have a positive, polite tone (especially when interacting with US Americans). This will be covered in an additional tutorial at the end of this post.
Use Formatting Tools to Create Lists in Emails: Tutorial 1 of 3
Common Problems in Typing Numbered List (versus using formatting tools): Tutorial 2 of 3
Numbered vs. Bulleted Lists: Tutorial 3 of 3
How can I learn how to format my email?
When you watch the next set of tutorials in the playlist below, which walks you through how to create an entire email from opening to closing, you will quickly notice an easy to use email format (email skeleton).
It’s amazing how many see these videos and think, “Yes, I am already doing this!” But, when they take a training program with us, and complete these activities for review, how many either really are not applying these skills, or still need to find ways to reduce wordiness or use the right words for maximum impact.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where we are going wrong without a coach. Jennifer Kumar, author of this post is here to help you. She can not only train your team, but can do a consultation, looking at a sample of your team’s emails, seeing where the main problems are and customizing a coaching and training intervention that suits your team’s needs.
Feel free to check out our course, The Ultimate Guide to Email Writing for Ease and Professionalism. This program is tailored for IT Professionals working outside of the US using English as a second or other language. It may be one of the best email writing training programs for those in the IT industry. We have already delivered this program live in person, via Zoom rooms, and online in 1:1 coaching sessions to over 2,000 software professionals of all career levels.