mainly medical writing
How can we write effectively in the electronic age?
TIps on how to use email
- Use triage when you are answering emails. Your goal should be to get as much out of your in-box as quickly as you can.
- Treat email like a note you pass in school. Make it brief and assume that the one person you don't want to see it will see it.
- Put your message in your first sentence. This is a time honoured principle of good communication. It means, among other things, that you have to think carefully what you want to say before going off in a series of rambling asides.
- Be cool. If you write with any emotion other than joy - don't send. Emails are now legal documents - and once written they can be taken up in a court of law and used against you. Resist the temptation to be nasty about other people; we are talking about a number of messages, not a conversation. While email is good for providing bits of neutral information, it stinks when it comes to providing nuanced opinion. If in doubt, leave overnight at least, or get a second opinion.
- Hit the right button when you send. The world is full of stories of parents who have been mistakenly sent their childrens' love letters, or authors who have received intemperate opinions of their work. Avoid adding to them - and be careful to distinguish between 'Reply' and 'Reply All'.
- DELETE those that are clearly both unimportant and not urgent - and SPAM;
- FILE those that don't need an urgent responses that they can be read and acted on later;
- asking for information
- sending straightforward information
Email is good for:
- setting up meetings
- answering short direct questions
- delegating simple tasks
- saying thank you or congratulations (not used enough!)
Email is bad for:
- Discussing personnel matters (especially hiring and firing)
- Sharing sensitive information
- Expressing opinions on sex, religion and politics
- Trying to establish what you really think (do this before sending)
This advice prepared by Barbara Beise and Tim Albert
How can we write efficiently?
What is a good writing style?
How can we get published in medical journals
"While email is good for providing bits of neutral information, it stinks when it comes to providing nuanced opinion. If in doubt, leave overnight at least, or get a second opinion. "