How to Write Better Emails: Digital Communications Dos & Don’ts

By Mary Ellen Dowd

After the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, digital communication further cemented itself as the most effective and widely used form of professional communication. Good written communication creates credibility and avoids all the frustration and damage that comes with ineffective written communication.

The importance of understanding and adequately utilizing forms of digital communication like email, instant messaging, and social media is undeniable as we enter 2023. Here are some do’s and don’ts of digital communication that can help us write well on all mediums and better connect with our audiences.


Communication “Do”s

The most important “Do” in digital communication is to always clearly express the “so what?” of a statement. The reason why you are composing a message should be apparent and at the front end for the recipient to clearly identify.

The message itself should be brief and succinct, utilizing an inverted pyramid structure, which always leads with the bottom line and then provides details later on.

A subject line should summarize the message, not describe it. This is to say that the recipient should be able to deduce the topic of the message using only the subject line. To keep things as clear as possible, each email or message should only cover ONE topic, should be kept between 10 – 15 sentences, and should utilize bulleted/numbered lists.

All of these tips serve the overarching goal of keeping messages clear and concise.


Communication “Don’t”s

When communicating digitally, it is essential not to create messages that are too long or full of jargon. As mentioned above, the most effective emails will be between 10 and 15 sentences and will avoid run-on sentences.

All requests and action items should be presented at the beginning of a message and should not be hidden in the body. 

Most importantly, written communication should not be used for emotional, sensitive, or negative messages. These conversations should always be had face-to-face or over the phone to avoid further exacerbating the issue.

Information provided by Progressive Women’s Leadership, Karla Brandau, CEO of Brandau Power Institute