Did you know that signing an email with “Sincerely” instead of “Best regards” can irrevocably alter your relationship with a colleague?  Or that “please” and “thank you” can be anything but polite?

send-largeAlthough it’s now almost five years old, Send remains an invaluable guide to emailing appropriately to staff, superiors, friends and relatives.  Oh, and with advice like “If you’re working with weasels, watch their e-mails like a hawk,” it’s pretty funny, too.

Authors David Shipley and Will Schwalbe divide the book into seven chapters and an introduction, each focused on topics such as when emails (versus phone calls or personal meetings) are most appropriate and useful; the “anatomy” of an email, from when it’s best to Cc, to how to put information and requests in the most readable formats, to how to convey different tones in greetings and sign-offs; and how to keep from landing in trouble, with advice on how to avoid both potential legal issues and on word choice or sentence constructions that give the wrong impression to your recipient.

With well-defined sections, bullet points, and sidebars, the book packs a ton of information into an easily-perusable format.  Curious how to make your subject lines more informative (and the message more likely to be read)?  Check out the section—and examples—on page 80.  Not sure who to Cc that important message to (and why it matters so much)?  Page 64 is your friend.  Want a guide to making email requests that get a favorable response?  The section starting on page 143 is here to help.

In the introduction, the authors give one of their most important general guidelines: “If you don’t consciously insert tone into an email, a kind of universal default tone won’t automatically be conveyed.  Instead, the message written without regard to tone becomes a blank screen onto which the reader projects his own fears, prejudices, and anxieties.”  If you want to give your colleagues, buddies, and everyone else you email the best possible impression of you and your words, start with this book.

Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better
By David Shipley and Will Schwalbe
New York: Vintage, 2007

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