Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tips for Better E-Mail, Part 3: Check Those Fragments

Got it.
Just a thought.
Looking forward to it.
Nice meeting you again.
See you tomorrow.
Talk to you then.
To update.

In checking my e-mail inbox and, admittedly, outbox over the past week, I found the eight fragments above posturing as sentences. Of course, many of us—even at the highest levels of organizations—have written such statements in e-mails when we've believed that our readers would understand them in the context of our message. Therefore, only a grammar snob would cringe at the sight of these phrases.

My only concern with fragmented writing is that employees who solely write e-mails may not know better when called upon to write a formal document, say a white paper, proposal, technical report, or standard operating procedure. Believe me: Many times, participants in my writing seminars express surprise when I tell them that such phrases are sentence fragments and, as such, unacceptable in formal documentation.

Keep your fragments for those informal situations, and raise the bar when writing memos, letters, and reports—and even those e-mails you expect to be widely read.

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