10 tips for effective email (infographic)

Ineffective email wastes more time than anything else we read — or write. And it’s an easy problem to solve. Effective emails have a purposeful structure, just like any other document.

Here’s an infographic with ten tips for emails that get things done, based on Chapter 21 of my book Writing Without Bullshit.

  1. Choose a subject line that makes the topic clear and functions as a heading for subsequent conversation.
  2. Summarize the content in the first 20 words.
  3. Introduce yourself quickly if necessary (the microwave greeting).
  4. Include headings to make skimming easy.
  5. Refer to previously published material with links.
  6. Speak directly to the recipients — use “I” and “you.”
  7. Include a call to action.
  8. Use photos or charts to clarify.
  9. Include a deadline for responses.
  10. Don’t exceed 250 words.

Post this infographic near your computer as a reminder. Also available as a PDF: email-that-works



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  1. In writing emails, it is always significant to put the bottom line up front. Some of us tend to put the most important message at the end. The reader has to read all the way to the end before he/she actually understanding the message being sent. However, that is not it is supposed to be. The better option is to craft a message in such a way that the reader gets a good understanding of the message by just looking at the first few sentences.