viernes, 16 de abril de 2010

Emails: Style

Email is a relatively recent development, and because it is perceived as a quick and informal means of communication, people are often unclear about the style and conventions they should use in business situations.

In legal work, while email correspondence may tend towards informality, it should also follow the same general principles as any other form of business correspondence.

Here are some basic tips about style in emails:
- In general, email messages follow the style and conventions used in letters or faxes. For example, you can use salutations such as Dear Mr Archer or Dear Gerald, and complimentary closes such as Yours sincerely. However, if you know the recipient well, or if you are exchanging a series of messages with one person, you may dispense with the salutation and complimentary close altogether.
- Make a clear mental division between personal messages and messages written in the course of legal work. In a message written in the course of legal work, the same rules of writing apply as for a letter: write clearly, concisely, pay attention to the accuracy of factual information and legal advice given, and observe high standards of professional courtesy; consider audience, purpose, clarity, consistency, and tone.
- Use correct grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, as you would in any other form of correspondence.
- Do not write words in capital letters in an email message. This can be seen as the equivalent of shouting and therefore have a negative effect. If you want to stress a word, put asterisks on each side of it, e.g. *urgent*.
- Keep your email messages short and to the point. People often receive a lot of emails at work, so conciseness is especially important.
- In general, limit yourself to one topic per message. This helps to keep the message brief and makes it easier for the recipient to answer, file, and retrieve it later.
- Check you email message for mistakes before you send it, just as you would check a letter or fax message.

Rupert Haigh, Oxford Handbook of Legal Correspondence, Oxford University Press, 2006.

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