Love them or hate them, emails are part of working life. We have probably all dreaded the moment we return from our holiday because we knew we were facing a mountain of emails. Or maybe we have a colleague who has a gift for writing emails that seems like coded messages – except that you don’t know the code.
When emails are not ‘stand alone’ messages
Emails often form part of longer conversations. There are ways we can help the reader, and ourselves, to ‘follow the conversation’ in an email. In this post, I’ll outline three situations where you might have to link your reader to previous conversations or information, with examples of language to use included:
- Linking to another paragraph.
- Linking to an attachment.
- Linking or referring to a previous email.
Linking to another paragraph
Let’s look at each situation briefly. We’ll start with the most common. When you’re linking to another paragraph, you’re often referring the reader and reminding them of something that has already been said, usually in the same email. These simple phrases at the beginning of your sentence will alert your reader and focus their attention on a previous point.
“As I mentioned above, your shipment should arrive by the end of calendar week 23.” or
“As discussed at the beginning of this email, we will meet at 10:00”
Linking to an attachment
If you have to attach an image, a document or some other kind of file, there is a standard phrase that you see a lot: “See attached.” This is ok, but it’s not very personal or friendly. Remember, friendly does not necessarily mean informal or impolite. You can easily make it friendlier by changing up the language a little. Instead of simply “See attached” try this:
“In the attachment, you will find…” or
“For your convenience, I have attached the…..to this email.”
Linking to a previous email
Finally, you may have to link to a previous email. This can be the trickiest, because we deal with so many emails and referencing other emails can easily lead to confusion. The best way to minimize this confusion is by referring to a specific email stating the date of the email you are referring to and then make your point, especially if the conversation is ongoing and there are several emails in question.
“As I mentioned in my email from (date)….”
“Regarding my previous email, sent to you on (date)…”
More on emailing
Our emailing theme continues next week, with a two-part post about tone in emails. In the meantime, you can find lots more emailing tips on our blog. There’s also our latest Ebook for you to download.