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5 Ways to Master the Art of Writing a Bad Email

With a high volume of mail, it forces us to prioritize what we read versus what we skim through or delete without opening.

*Note that the tone of this blog is satirical. The italicized text should be taken seriously*

The average person receives around 120 emails each day. With a high volume of mail, it forces us to prioritize what we read versus what we skim through or delete without opening. 

The ability to craft an email that goes unnoticed or wastes someone’s time is truly an art form. Lucky for you, here are five tips on how to master writing an email that ends up either being deleted or in someone’s spam folder. 

1. Keep It (Too) Casual 

Professionalism is a concept of the past. Approach writing an email like a text to your best friend - full of emojis, exclamation points everywhere and lots of funny slang terms. A more casual, colloquial tone will resonate more with whoever you are sending it to, whether it’s your professor, boss or potential employer.

The emails that you craft are a reflection of your own professionalism, values and attention to detail, so it is necessary to demonstrate a certain level of formality. IABC reports that only 21% of communicators say they keep their language simple and jargon-free. So unless you’re friendly with the recipient, avoid any opportunity for miscommunication by removing informal language, emojis and slang from your email. It’s better to be safe than sorry and maintain a professional tone in case the recipient decides to print your email or share it with others. 

2. Craft a Confusing Subject Line

When deciding on a subject line, it’s best to choose one that has no connection to the content of your email. The more confusing and irrelevant, the better. For example, when initiating a discussion, try using a vague and non-urgent subject line such as, “Hey.” Also, in the long run, this will make it more difficult for the recipient to retrace your specific content through their inbox since you used a subject line that fails to match that content.

Based on a recent survey, 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone, while 69% of recipients report email as spam based on that same subject line. Therefore, it is essential to take the time to craft a subject line that will entice recipients to actually open and read your email. Instead of writing “Hey” to start a conversation, try “Nursing Student Eager for Industry Advice.” Subject lines that are more specific and relevant to the content contained in your email will help grab your recipient’s attention.

3. Embrace Creative Fonts and Formatting 

Forget everything you have ever learned about fonts and formatting because now is the time for you to get creative! Show off your personality by playing around with the font style and color. A fan favorite is yellow Comic Sans and is a great way to make your email illegible and annoy the recipient. Avoid using bullet points and consolidate all of your sentences into one big block of text. These are just a few ideas to help spark some creativity for your next email that no one will probably open. 

If you want people to actually read your email, then you need to make it as painless as possible for them. Stick to standard, easy-to-read fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman.  As for color, black is the safest and most common choice. Additionally, use shorter paragraphs or bullet points to streamline the information quickly and effectively. Putting in the extra effort to properly format your email will help the reader identify your main points and understand if any follow-up action is needed. 

4. More is More

Everyone’s perfect morning starts with a cup of coffee and a 5-page email that could almost pass for a research paper. Keeping your emails clear and concise is overrated. Instead, take your time and write out a long text-heavy email that covers multiple topics. Avoiding brevity and making sure to repeat your point will help to delay communication and really test the patience of the recipients. 

Succinct emails that are straight to the point make it easy for the recipient to read and respond in a matter of minutes. As a general rule, it’s best to use no more than 6 lines for every email to avoid any unrelated content. However, if you find yourself rambling in an email before you clicked send, then perhaps it would be better to just schedule a phone call. 

5. Proorfeading iz old newz

Who really needs to proofread these days when we all have spell-checkers? Don’t waste your time looking for typos that your recipient probably won’t even pick up on. Just draft your email, quickly fix anything underlined in red and move on. Even if you did misspell a few names or mix up there vs. their, it might help grab the attention of your recipient.

Hate to burst your bubble, but spell-checkers don’t always catch everything. That typo or grammar goof that you didn’t notice can steal the spotlight over the true purpose of your email and give the recipient a bad impression of you. Demonstrate your intelligence and build your credibility by taking the extra minute or two to proofread. You could even ask a friend to read over your email to assure it is free of errors before you hit send. 

Now you know what it takes to write an email so poorly written that your own mom might not even want to read it. Implement these strategies at your own pace, and in time you will successfully master the art of writing bad emails.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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