Write Concise Emails

Business writing classes self-study
When you “decide” rather than “make a decision,” you’re using one word in place of three. When you say “Please register” instead of “Please sign up at the registration desk,” you are using two words instead of seven. Using fewer words makes your writing clearer and saves time. The explanations in this article are from the Business Writing Center email course, Writing Effective Workplace Email.

Use Simple, Short Wording

Examples of simple wording:
refer make reference to
resolve reach a resolution
settle enter into an agreement
must is required to
Drop words that don’t add anything to the text. Convey your message in as few words as possible, directly and simply. Look for deadwood and prune it out of your writing. Example:
Wordy: I understand how, with your busy schedule of day-to-day activities, it will be difficult for you to wait at your house for delivery when our package arrives, so I have taken pains to ensure that the delivery person will let you know well in advance when he or she will make the UPS delivery to your house.Revised: I understand how your busy schedule will make it difficult for you to be at home for our delivery, so I have asked UPS to let you know when the delivery will be made.
The revised text is shorter by 40 percent. That means the writer wrote the message in 40 percent less time and the reader received the message 40 percent faster. The reader can then act more quickly. Exercise: Rewrite these sentences. Check the possible revisions that follow the three paragraphs after you have written your revision.
Sentence 1:
 In reference to your email of January 10 requesting the procedure for installation of the software, the preparatory procedure for installation is enclosed herein.
Sentence 2:
As per the agreement contract agreed to and signed at purchase, defective software will be replaced forthwith upon receipt in our offices of the defective merchandise software.
Examples of possible revisions
Sentence 1:
The installation procedure you asked for in your January 10 email follows.
Sentence 2:
The agreement you signed at the time of purchase states that defective software will be replaced upon receipt of the merchandise.

Omit Superfluous Words

Because time has value in business, every document, including email, must contain only words that add meaning. Readers should receive and understand the message quickly and accurately. Write concisely to help readers grasp the main ideas by making every word specific and concrete. Don’t use these superfluous words:
“the fact that. . .”“consideration should be given to the possibility that. . .” “in my opinion, it seems that. . .” “it should not be forgotten that. . .” “in large part, it is our anticipation that. . .” “in terms of. . .” “please note that . . .” “it has come to my attention that . . .”
SUPERFLUOUS WORDS: There is no doubt but that John was unaware of the fact that his client had made his arrival.BETTER: John didn’t know that his client had arrived.
Be straightforward and direct in your emails. Always prefer one word when it will do the work of two or three. Exercise: Rewrite these sentences. Check the possible revisions that follow the three paragraphs after you have written your revisions.
Sentence 1:
Notification of manufacturer defects must be submitted on or before the deadline date of March 1 unless it is true that the aforesaid defects are in appearance in one form or another before said date.
Sentence 2:
Our investigation of the problem outlined in detail as per your email of August 4 confirmed our suspicions that the underlying apparent difficulty lies with the manner in which the software itself was installed into the computer rather than any and all inherent problems and other integral difficulties with the software involved in this investigation.
Sentence 3:
All in all, the most advantageous plan of action considering your needs and those of your company is to return the aforementioned system for a full refund of the purchase price and taxes and substitute the previously detailed, newer up-to-date system, that will suit your needs, wants, and wishes.
Examples of possible revisions
Sentence 1:
You must submit notification of manufacturer defects on or before March 1 unless you find the defects earlier.
Sentence 2:
Our investigation of the problem explained in your August 4 email confirmed that the difficulty lies in how the software was originally installed.
Sentence 3:
Considering your needs and your company’s needs, the best plan is to return the system for a full refund in exchange for a newer system that will suit your needs.

Don’t Use Phrases with Redundancies

Many phrases commonly used in business writing contain redundancies. You will eliminate many unnecessary words simply by using the shorter alternative.
past history past
join together join
within the confines of within or in
during the course of while
includes the following includes
other alternative alternative
first began began
future plans plans
actual facts facts

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