Archive for April, 2010

Writing effective email subject lines

After seeing some particularly bad email subject lines lately, we thought it was about time for a blog about writing effective email subject lines. Here are a few tips:

  • Put the important words near the beginning of the subject line (e.g. Office party: Ideas for venue?). This is especially important if the subject line is long.
  • If the email is about an action that someone needs to do, indicate this action in the subject line (e.g. Status reports due Tuesday).
  • Don’t write half the sentence in the subject line, then continue the rest of the sentence in the email. Not only is it annoying, but it makes the subject of the email unclear for the reader.
  • Don’t write the subject line in all caps. All caps are harder to read.
  • If you have replied to an email several times and the subject no longer applies, write a new subject line to signal a change of focus.
  • If an email contains multiple topics, consider writing shorter emails with specific subject lines.

Do you have any more tips? Have you got any examples of really unclear subject lines?


April 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm 4 comments

So you need a typeface?

I was making the buttons for our website, pondering which font to use, when my colleague showed me this flow chart:

Although you may not agree with some of the results, I thought it was a pretty neat idea. There are thousands of typefaces out there and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming deciding which one to use. Sometimes you get a little tired of using Times New Roman or Arial.

To serif or not to serif?

As with everything, there are pros and cons to using serif and sans serif typefaces:

  • Serif typefaces are easier to read in print, as the serifs make it easier to differentiate the letters in your brain. They also help your eye move from one character to the next.
  • Sans serif typefaces are best when you are reading from a computer screen. This is because the resolution on a screen is not as good as a printed document, so the serifs can blur the text, making it harder to read.

Alternative choices

Here are a few alternative choices to Times New Roman and Arial:

Instead of… Why not try…
Times New Roman
  • Book Antiqua
  • Calisto
  • Centaur
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Perpetua
  • Calibri
  • Helvetica
  • Lucida Sans
  • Trebuchet
  • Verdana

Do you have any favourite typefaces? Are there any that you really can’t stand? What do you think of the flowchart?

April 23, 2010 at 3:54 am 3 comments

Are you linked in effectively?

LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool. Or it can be, if you know how to use it effectively. Meryl K Evans listed 14 useful tips in her blog. There are three that stand out for me:

1. Use the name your clients know you by.

2. Create an effective professional headline.This should be succinct and to the point, yet descriptive enough so that your readers are not left doing the guesswork.

3. Write a summary that highlights your most important business information. This can be a summary of the services or products you offer, a list of your skills, a summary of your biggest achievements, etc. In any case, keep paragraphs short and to the point.

Need help in writing an efficient LinkedIn profile? We’re happy to point you in the ‘write’ direction.  Simply post a comment with your question.

April 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Emotive proposals

Yesterday I was re-working a proposal document for a client. The document was filled with adjectives, and it was a very emotional read.

This brings up the question, though – when is it appropriate to use emotive language? Is it appropriate in a proposal? Is it appropriate in a training manual? Is it appropriate in a marketing brochure?

It all depends, of course, on:

  • the document purpose, and
  • the audience that will be reading the document.

In an advertising document, emotive language sells. People are more attracted to products that appeal to our emotions – sex, hunger, vanity, love and family are just a few examples. Journalists use emotive language to get the reader to empathise with a story.

However, sometimes the emotive language can obscure the facts. I think when you are writing a business document, such as a proposal, it is better to stick to the facts and keep the emotion ambiguous. Your tone should be warm but professional, and you should let the facts do the talking. Too much emotive language can come across as unprofessional, and if the language is very strong, you can come across as one-sided, or even a little crazy.

What do you think? Do you ever use strong emotive language in a proposal? Have you ever read a proposal and been put off because of the language? Post a comment!

April 8, 2010 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

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