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Writing professional emails

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Writing professional emails

There are several things to consider when writing to people outside your own firm by email. First, not everybody will be using the same email program. Sending email that has been written using html is usually a bad idea, and including lots of links, different colours and fonts may look good on your screen, but might appear confusing on someone else’s. It is better to send a simple email that conveys all of the important information than to send visually stylish email that the recipient may not be able to read.

If you need to send important information using email attachments, it is useful to be aware of the recipient’s policy on opening such files. Many people will not open email attachments in case there might be computer viruses within them. Even pdf files are not totally immune from viruses. If you open attachments which people have sent to you, you should be sure to have an up-to-date virus checker running on your computer.

Formal professional emails should be formatted like letters and should follow the same styles and conventions. They should begin with an appropriate salutation (eg Dear Mr Sandford or Dear Michael) and close with a complimentary close, such as Yours sincerely (UK) or Yours truly (US). However, if you are exchanging a series of messages with one person, it may be appropriate to leave out the salutation and closing once you and your correspondent have begun an extended dialogue per email. As with letters, you should write clearly, concisely and in the appropriate tone. Current best practice favours plain English over legalese.

Before writing any legal text you should consider the reader. This is especially true of emails, which should be kept short and to the point. To ensure that your message is easily understandable, try to limit yourself to one topic per email, which should be checked for accuracy of information and language before sending.

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