How to Write Emails - Advice from the London Police

Try these Top 10 Tips 1 Give your email a subject title that explains simply and clearly what it's about; never leave the subject field blank 2 To help people prioritise, include the words “For action by [date]” or “For information” 3 Write as you would speak - the words we use every day are words people can easily understand 4 Start your email with a summary sentence that provides a quick view of why it was sent, for example, “This email explains a new initiative and how you can take part” 5 Be as concise as possible 6 Rather than include lots of information in the email or in an attachment, link to information online and embed the link behind a word. If you have to include an attachment, save it as a PDF to reduce the size before sending 7 If your email is more than one screen in length, use sub-headings to break up the text. You could also include a short contents list at the start 8 Avoid forwarding the entire trail of previous emails unless it's essential that people see the history 9 If you're emailing a large group of people, consider putting the names in the “bcc” box to save space when the email is read or printed 10 Check your email for mistakes before you send it

More Information:

Original: The Job, Issue 76, Page 32.

This advice was the subject of several humorous stories in the British Press, but we think it's pretty good as a starter. It's certainly an interesting contrast from the specific marketing-orientated advice that you find elsewhere. Straightforward or naive? Read it and make up your own mind.

For example in the Daily Mirror:

Police in Britain's biggest force have been given a 211-word guide on how to send an email.

The 10-point advisory includes tips like "Give your email a subject title" and "Check for mistakes before you send it". [...]

Forces have previously advised officers on healthy eating, "not shopping on an empty stomach" and how to ride a bike.

And in the Daily Mail:

Met police issue 10-point guide to its 31,000 officers on how to write an e-mail

  • Guide urges Met Police officers not to 'prattle on' in their messages
  • 'Check your email for mistakes' among the more obvious pieces of advice
  • Top 10 list was published in the latest edition of staff magazine The Job


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03/03/2015 How-tos