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The gentleman’s guide to writing emails

Think you know how to format the perfect email? Think again...

There’s no right or wrong way to write an email. Each to their own, we say. There is, however, a gentlemanly way. Here’s how to master it:    

The gentleman’s guide to writing emails

Start with a compelling subject line

First impressions absolutely count. As the first thing your recipients will see, your subject line needs to get your email off on the right foot. Make it snappy (long subject lines tend to get truncated when viewed on mobile devices), and let the reader know exactly what’s coming later in the body of your email.    

Keep the body short and to the point

In most cases, an email doesn’t need to be more than a couple of hundred words, max. People just don’t have the time to go through paragraph after paragraph. Dump the friendly ‘warm up’ intro too – instead, use the first line or two to briefly outline what the rest of your email is about.

The gentleman’s guide to writing emails

Avoid walls of text

People generally skim emails. As a gentlemanly courtesy, help your recipients by including headers, bullet points and links wherever you can. It’ll also make your email (and you) look more organised.

Ditch the jargon

Just like when you speak, writing an email means you sometimes have to put a little extra thought into the words you’re using. Too many technical terms and phrases will instantly turn your readers off, and can diminish your credibility. Write like a human – you want to come across as approachable and personable, not a robot.

The gentleman’s guide to writing emails

Use an appropriate tone and style

That means NO SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS or channeling your inner e. e. cummings by doing away with capital letters altogether. Textspeak and wacky fonts are also big no-nos – you want to exude a calm, got-it-all-together vibe at all times, and those are surefire ways to kill it.    

Don’t type on your phone

When writing an email, the gentlemanly thing to do is to think about it and draft it properly. Easily done on a computer, but unless you have the fingers of an aye-aye or the patience of a monk, typing on your smartphone isn’t always going to cut it. 

The gentleman’s guide to writing emails

Edit and proofread

Carelessness is never a good look, especially not in an email where any mistakes will stay for posterity. Before hitting ‘Send’, make sure you go over what you’ve written at least a few times – if you come across a typo or if anything reads even a little bit off, fix it immediately. 

Reply only to the sender

‘Reply All’ is not your friend. Unless you’re sure that everyone else will gain something from your response to an email, reply back only to the original sender. A true gentleman always respects other people’s personal spaces, digital or otherwise.      

Be a gentleman in all the ways you communicate. Here’s how to write the perfect thank-you letter.

Further Reading