Archaic Writing assignment

For this exercise, find three (3) bad examples of emails in your own mailbox and discuss their flaws based on this overview of the academic netiquette

In the electronic communication era, distinguishing between various forms of professional and casual writing is becoming increasingly difficult. The use of electronic mail as a universal communication tool, its availability on our portable devices, and the expectation of immediate responses that come with it set up the trap of inattentiveness and often ruin our chances of achieving our communication goals.

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It is important to remember that electronic mail is just a message delivery vehicle. Depending on your goals and your audience, the messages you send via email will be more successful if structured and worded properly.

Treating an email as an ‘archaic’ form of professional communication, such as memos and letters, may help you format it better. Depending on your communication goal and audience (internal vs. external, context level, etc.), you can treat an email as an inquiry, cover letter, complaint, adjustment, recommendation, status update (see the manual for types of letters and memos).

You should always consider (and adjust with the accordance with the more appropriate message type) the following correspondence elements:

  1. identification lines
    • from
    • date
    • to
    • subject (optional for letters) should summarize the content in a few (but never one) words and say what the message is about (compare: “Sales” and “Report on Quarterly Sales”)
  2. salutation (optional for memos) should be respectful; use a title and last name the first time out
  3. the introduction should answer two questions in a sentence or two
    • why are you writing
    • what do you want
  4. the discussion will depend highly on the goal and could be structured after appropriate memo or letter types
  5. the conclusion would often take the form of recommendations or calls for action
  6. audience recognition
    • internal vs. external audience would help you choose between memo or letter styles
  7. style and tone
    • professional correspondence is generally expected to be brief (one page for memos, up to two for letters, and one screen for emails
    • specific and detailed
    • informal and friendly but not casual and unprofessional
    • avoid unfriendly and demanding statements and sentences regardless of communication types
  • the tone is defined by the audience

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