Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Certified
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Start improving your e-mail effectiveness by
creating and formatting easy to follow content, and by using pre‑written
responses. In Part 2 of this two-part series, discover ways to avoid
unnecessarily contributing to other people’s overflowing Inbox. (Note:
although some of the features mentioned are specific to Outlook, most of
these ideas can help you manage your e-mail and time regardless of the
e-mail program you use).
Format Readable E-mail Messages
One of the keys to writing good e-mail is to
empathize with your recipients. Simplify the e-mail messages you send
with clean, easy-to-read formatting:
- Get to the point. Shorten paragraphs to no more
than five or six lines to reduce reading.
- Shorter is better. Limit e-mail text to a single
printed page. If you have more text, reduce the message or consider
attaching a Word document. Delete previous responses that are no longer
relevant to the current exchange.
- Keep it meaningful. Modify the subject line if the
thread changes and is no longer related to the original message.
- Simple formatting. Use fonts between 10 and 12
points in size except for headlines and choose an easy to read font
style. Consider bolding important information. Apply colors
sparingly. In addition, unless you know the recipient also uses Outlook,
understand some recipients may be seeing your message in plain text
without font formatting and graphics. Add blank lines and white space to
separate paragraphs and areas of detail.
- Read your message before you send it. Run the
spelling checker and re-read messages one last time for clarity and
grammar before clicking Send.
- Use High Importance sparingly. If most every
message you send out is marked as High Importance, your recipients will
begin to ignore your urgency.
Create Clear Content
If you want to reduce the volume of e-mail you need
to handle, make sure you create clear messages. Consider these
strategies to upgrade your communications with understandable, e-mail
- Better Subject Lines. Help others prioritize how to
act on your e-mail by including a clear, specific subject line and
repeating important subject information in the body of the message. If
an action is needed, state what you want on the subject line. As a
software expert, I often receive messages with a subject that just reads
“question” which makes these messages hard to distinguish from
With so many people reading their messages with a handheld, also put the
most important information at the front of the subject as longer subject
lines may be cutoff.
invitation to the CBA Awards Luncheon on March 12th
Awards Luncheon; please RSVP to March 12th event
- Now What? Define your expectations in the body of
the message. Do you want your recipients to act, respond, read, or is
the e-mail FYI only?
- One Topic. Include only one topic per message. If
this isn’t possible, then describe and number multiple topics as in 5
items to add to the Wednesday meeting agenda. Put action
items or questions on separate lines so they stand out and get noticed.
- Watch for Automation. When you type the addresses
for your message, check who is getting your e‑mail. Using the AutoComplete feature, Outlook will attempt to auto-fill an e-mail
address which may not be your intended recipient.
- Who is Your Audience? Be careful with your tone and
language. As with any other communication, match the message to your
audience. Unless the reader understands your dry sense of humor, for
instance, they may be confused or offended rather than amused. Clearly
identify yourself to strangers within your message and in the message
- BTW (By The Way). It may be tempting to use
acronyms in the world of the Blackberry and IM (instant messaging), but
only use extremely common abbreviations, such as FYI or ASAP, unless you
are absolutely certain the individual receiving your e-mail knows what
If you send a few basic messages over and over
again, such as a reply to a request for product information, consider
saving those responses as signatures that can be inserted into e-mail so
that you don’t have to retype them. For a majority of messages, create a
default signature that includes your full name, position or title,
phone, website, and other contact information. Depending on your
business and use of Outlook, you may also want to include links or
addresses for social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and
Applying these best practices will help you create
better e-mail messages.
This article is an excerpt from my
Outlook 2010 Tips, Tricks & Techniques book.
101+ Ways to Make the Most of Microsoft
Outlook 2010 Tips, Tricks & Techniques
for E-mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks & Notes
Value priced for as little as $15!
Click Here to Grab Your Copy Now!
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.
Outlook Tips, Tricks & Handouts Too!
More Smart & Easy Software Tips, Tricks &
Techniques for You
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Press [F7] to check spelling
in an Outlook message or other item.
|The Ribbon was first
introduced with Microsoft Outlook 2007 and fully available in all
areas of Outlook with Outlook 2010.