5 Suggestions For Composing Emails That Get Read

Why don’t people answer your emails? Well, maybe you’re longwinded. Maybe you’re not stating what you want clearly enough. Maybe you’re just boring people to tears. Only you know what you put in your emails that might be putting people off.

Whatever the problem, you need to fix it. So here are 5 suggestions for composing emails that people will actually read, and answer.

1. Use a Personal Touch

People love to hear their name, and they love to see their name in a document. Using a person’s name in the subject header and the body of the message will make your message stand out from all the other messages that a person receives. It gets their attention, and makes them want to read more.


Keep It Short And Simple. Don’t go on and on. That’s the quickest way to make sure your email gets deleted. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Don’t say anything more than is necessary.

As an example, if you get an email saying “John, will you be at the meeting on Friday?” don’t reply like this: “I have to pick up the kids at daycare and then pick up some milk and bread at the grocery store. Then I’ve got to drop off my tax info at the accountant’s office, and gas up the car. So if the traffic isn’t bad, I should get there with time to spare, but if there’s backup on the freeway I might be a few minutes late, but yes, I’ll be at the meeting. The correct response is simply “Yes.”

3. Say What You Want in the Header

Frequently, people only glance at the subject header and then decide whether or not to read the entire email. So, think about this: Header says “Proposal.” Body of email says “Hi, Sandy, I was hoping you could get the final draft of the proposal by Friday afternoon. The client is coming by and I’d like to have a few facts and figures to run by her. Do you suppose you could drop off a final draft by Friday, early afternoon or late at worst? I’d really appreciate it.” Again, boring and too long.

Proper header: “Final draft proposal by Friday PM?” If you have to add more details in the body text of your message, that’s fine, but people should get an immediate “heads up” when they see your subject line that will tell them that this is a message that they should devote the time to reading and answering.

4. Say What You Want

If you want someone to respond to your email, the best way to make it happen is to ask!  State what you want, ask for a reply, and thank the recipient in advance. Inform them that if you don’t get a response, you’ll be following up by phone, and state exactly when you’ll be doing that – tomorrow, in a day or two, next week? You get the idea.

5. Proofread Your Emails

There are few things more irritating than feeling as though you’re corresponding with a semi-literate clod. Run the spell check at the very least, but remember that the spell check is not always your friend. You should still proofread for grammatical errors and other gaffes.

It’s simple courtesy – people want to feel that you’re interested enough in communicating with them that you can bother to do it properly. If you can’t be bothered, why should they?


You want to make the best possible impression in your emails. This means keeping them simple, concise, and free of error. If you follow these basic rules, you’ll have a far better chance of getting through to the people you want to reach, making them read and understand your message, and motivating them to send you a reply. It really takes very little effort, and you can keep the communication channels running smoothly.

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