A Disgruntled Email Recipient Breaks His Silence

To email writers everywhere… from email readers everywhere… we’re begging you: Please stop sending us emails that look like this.

To: ABC Agency – allstaff

From: disgruntledemployee@abcagency.gov

Subject:  re: new rules for vacation time

Fine. I’ll be the one to say it.

This message is for one of our colleagues. I do not think it would be fair to single her (I mean him or her) out by name, so I will simply say that she (or he) works in Human Resources and that her (oh, forget it) name rhymes with Schmennifer. Oh, and she just sent us all an update on the new HR procedure.

If what I have to say here upsets you, Schmennifer, please keep in mind also that I am protecting your anonymity.

First, thank you for your note explaining the new Human Resources procedures for reporting paid time off. I think I speak for everyone at the agency when I tell you that we are grateful for your conscientiousness and for always notifying us promptly about administrative changes at the agency that affect us.

But I have to ask….

Wouldn’t it have been possible to communicate THIS information to us without doing THIS? Do you realize that THIS “actually” makes your EMAILS harder to “read?”

Come on, Schmennifer. You have access to all of our personnel files, right? Are any of us at ABC Agency under 10 years old? No. We’re all adults here. So I think it’s safe for you to assume that we can all read, which means you don’t need to try to make your WoRdS look like PiCtUrEs.

I think I can also speak for everyone when I offer you the following suggestions for writing memos and staff emails.

– Please try not to use capitalization to add emphasis to your writing (even if you have really, REALLY ExCiTiNg NEWS).

– Try to limit your text to one type size throughout the document (Arial 10, for example, or Times New Roman 12). I know your heart is in the right place, Schmennifer, but when you write bad news using tiny little letters, it doesn’t actually make us feel better. It just makes us squint.

– Please make an effort to use just one type of text enhancement throughout the document. (This is a text enhancement. “So is this.” AND THIS. This, too. And I almost forgot your MULTI-ENHANCEMENT signature special!”) Again, I know you mean well and that you’re just trying to call our attention to the messages you think we’ll find important. But if you keep dressing up your text and creating impossible-to-read memos like this, we’re all going to be calling you with questions about our vision plan.

Oh, and one more thing: Two consecutive exclamation points at the end of a sentence… are too many. (So is one, now that I think of it.)

Thank you for listening, Schmennifer. I hope you will take these recommendations in the positive, friendly spirit in which I am offering them to you—and not as criticism.

Or, as you yourself would probably phrase it… 🙂 !!

About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations and is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of MoneySavvyTeen.com, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.