Ronna Timpa, owner of Workplace ESL Solutions and active NHLA member, teaches business writing classes. Today she is sharing some useful tips with Master Key readers. Read on.
- One space or two? – Nothing shouts “over 40” than two spaces. When my teenage daughter asks me to type a paper for her, she reminds me to only use one space. Use one or two – whichever makes you happy, BUT be consistent. Your organization may have a standard of using one space.
- Do I really need to proofread? Well, your word is your brand. People will judge you by your word. Is it fair? Is life fair? No. Sorry, but it’s true. I still have sleepless nights after I see the wrong form of you’re/your on Facebook.
- Is it its or it’s? – Just say “it is” when you see the contraction and you’ll get it right. Feel free to use this as a party idea.
- Can I end an email with “Thanks,” – Well, are you thanking someone? Please don’t have it attached to your signature line.
- Is it effect or affect? – who knows? Choose another word – there are many others to choose from, but if you are dying to know, affect is usually a verb and effect is usually a noun. Now you can impress your friends. You’re welcome.
- What’s the best way to start an email at work?
a. Best way – Hi Ronna,
b. Greetings, (if you don’t know their name)
c. Hey! – Fine to use with friends, but the very informal salutation should stay out of the workplace.
d. Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (last name) – A bit too formal for an email
e. Dear Ronna, – a bit old-fashioned
f. Dear friend, – If you don’t know my name or can’t be bothered to use it, we probably aren’t friends.
g. To whom it may concern, – Well, this doesn’t concern me, so DELETE. Not used anymore.
h. Good morning/afternoon/evening, – It may not be morning, afternoon or evening by the time your email reaches the person.
i. Yo! – no explanation needed.
j. Misspelled name, – again, no explanation needed
k. Happy Friday! – You don’t want to be overly enthusiastic. It’s not professional and can set the wrong tone. It’s also annoying to some people.
l. All, – NO – It sounds abrupt. If you are writing to a group, use, “Hi, everyone.”
One suggestion that I always give: Every morning, send a friend, family member, colleague or co-worker an email to say “thanks” for something. That’s 7 positive emails a week. Life changing for the person receiving it AND the person sending it. Try it.