How To Write

How To Write An Effective Email People Will Read


The next installment in my How To Write series focuses on how to write an effective email people will read and respond to.

If you’re tired of spending time crafting an email, only to get no response, maybe it’s time to rethink how you write the email.

It’s time to take a military approach to how you write an email. No, it doesn’t involve typing with a live grenade in each hand.

Kabir Sehgal, a U.S. Navy veteran and author of Coined: The Rich Life of Money And How Its History Has Shaped Us, suggests writing an email in this military style.

How To Write An Effective Email

His first suggestion involves the always important subject line. His tip — don’t get cute.

Use Keywords In Subject

The first thing that your email recipient sees is your name and subject line, so it’s critical that the subject clearly states the purpose of the email, and specifically, what you want them to do with your note.

Military personnel use keywords that characterize the nature of the email in the subject.

Some of these keywords include:

  1. ACTION – Compulsory for the recipient to take some action
  2. SIGN – Requires the signature of the recipient
  3. INFO – For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required
  4. DECISION – Requires a decision by the recipient
  5. REQUEST – Seeks permission or approval by the recipient
  6. COORD – Coordination by or with the recipient is needed”

Next, his second piece of advice on writing an effective email, involves the acronym BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) and is basically “get to the conclusion in the opening paragraph.”

“Military professionals lead their emails with a short, staccato statement known as the BLUF. (Yes, being the military, there is an acronym for everything.)

It declares the purpose of the email and action required. The BLUF should quickly answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.

An effective BLUF distills the most important information for the reader.”

Be Economical

Finally, Sehgal adds this tip on how to write an effective email – be economical.

“Military personnel know that short emails are more effective than long ones, so they try to fit all content in one pane, so the recipient doesn’t have to scroll.”

Sehgal offers a few more tips like being economical and linking to attachments in his article at Harvard Business Review.

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Chris Illuminati is a freelance writer and published author. Follow him on Twitter @chrisilluminati or email him at cilluminati [@]

1 comment on “How To Write An Effective Email People Will Read

  1. Pingback: How to Decline a Sales Offer Without Burning Any Bridges

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