5 Tips for Writing Smartphone-Friendly Emails

This guest post is by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene, authors of “The Business Style Handbook, An A-to-Z Guide for Effective Writing on the Job.” 

In today’s business world, the integration of portable devices with office email systems makes it more important than ever to write concise, clear, accurate emails. Put yourself in the shoes of an email recipient who is not at a desk and in a rush, scrolling through your message on a small screen. Space has joined time as a consideration for communicating with busy people.

Also remember that in business, reading email on a wireless device is just to catch up. “Serious email-related work is done on the device that has the applications needed to read and review attachments,” said Ida Lowe, an IT executive and project manager who has worked at international corporations and taught courses on electronic communication at the City University of New York. So don’t expect to resolve all your issues via smartphones.

Here are five tips to make your emails smartphone-friendly:

  • Write an informative subject line.
  • Make every word count. If you’re writing to an executive who will read your message on a BlackBerry, a crisply written, easy-to-access email increases the odds that your entire message will be read and responded to, if that is your objective.
  • Be sure your text is readable. How will an email sent from your computer appear on a smartphone? Think about how spacing, fonts and special characters transmit.
  • Avoid making your recipient download content by pasting it. Say you are sending a draft memo to someone, with the assumption that she will give it a quick initial review on a smartphone. Write a clear subject line, a brief cover note and attach the memo. Then paste the full contents of the memo into the body of the email beneath your note and check the formatting to be sure it hasn’t shifted. This smartphone-friendly email will allow the person to see the content of your document without having to open your attachment, which is extremely helpful for someone on the go. It saves time and battery life and obviates the need to download documents, which may not even be accessible, depending on the person’s location.
  • Maintain high standards in emails you send from your portable device. Remember that even if you are dashing off a quick reply on your phone from a meeting, somebody may read your message on an office computer. So any mistakes will be visible on a full-sized screen, which tends to magnify them. Have you ever received a short, sloppy email from someone on your desktop and wondered how he could have sent such a poorly written email? Then, you realize it was probably sent in a hurry from a smartphone, but the initial impression lingers. Admittedly, many wireless devices do not have the spell- and grammar checks that PCs have, so mistakes are more likely. That is why many people include a tagline in their wireless device signature stating that the message was sent from that device. Still, no matter where you send it from or what disclaimers you use, that email ultimately reflects on you, so make it count. Smartphones don’t give you license to write sloppy communications. Better to take the extra few minutes to be sure your messages are error-free. Think about it as a reflection of your work and professionalism. Make it part of your professional brand.

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  • Isabel

    This information is very important. More and more people are using smartphones for messaging and it can be very frustrating to be on the receiving end of it. I must admit that there are times when I am disappointed that my email was read and responded to on a smartphone because I don’t believe as much consideration is given to the message. Often the reply is brief and incomplete.

  • Jay Strauss

    There is a lot of truth and proper guidance in this article. Some people, often-senior executives seem to feel that it is “cool” to send e-mails in all lower case letters and without punctuation. I have always felt that the time saving is not worth the distraction to the recipient.