Reader question: How can I keep my emails short?

Writing an email that’s short and to the point is the best way to get a response from the recipient. But writing short doesn’t come naturally to most people.

Here are some tips to help you keep your email short.

1. Limit your emails to one main point

Don’t cram unrelated topics into one email. Focus on one point.

For example, discuss the forms that your client should fill out for your next meeting — not the forms plus a client event in three months plus your firm’s addition of a new client relations professional. You’re writing an email — not a newsletter.

2. Use headings or bullet points

Maybe your email is poorly organized rather than too long. Use headings to indicate what each section covers and bullet points to group like items together. These techniques make your email easier to scan. Easily skimmed emails feel shorter to your readers.

3. Use the first-sentence check

The first-sentence check method of editing will also improve your email. Read about it in “Quick check for writers with an economic commentary example.”

4. Cut your email’s length by 10%

Use your word processing software to calculate your email’s word count. Next, delete unnecessary information or words to cut your word count.

Next, calculate the word count again, and cut another 10% of the word count. This is a classic writing teacher’s technique.

Struggling to cut words? First, try to slash entire paragraphs and sentences. Next, look at the helper words in your sentences. For example, “in order to” could become “to.” “We are thinking” slims down to “we think.”

Your suggestions?

If you have more suggestions on how to put emails on a diet, please share them below.