Emails play a large role in how colleagues perceive you, but even the most carefully crafted note can contain a typo or two, Joanna Cutrara writes for Grammarly. To improve your emails this year, Grammarly, a proofreading software, ranked the most common email errors that users made in 2017.
According to Grammarly, the top 10 most common mistakes are:
1. Misspelled words. "By far the most common email error in 2017," Cutrara writes, made all the more common by difficult-to-spell words and small touchscreen keyboards.
2. Repetition. The second-most-common error was repeated words, according to Cutrara. Cut back on the repetition—and "energize your writing"—by doing a quick thesaurus search for synonyms.
3. Vague words. According to Cutrara, users also need to swap out "bland, nonspecific words"—such as "good" or "nice"—with more unique, specific terms, such as "lovely."
4. Misspelled names. It's bad enough to misspell the name of a place, Cutrara writes, but misspelling the name of a manager or client "can be horrifying." Make sure to double-check any names before you hit send.
5. Not capitalizing the first word in a sentence. While email and texting are increasingly informal, "most emails (especially for work communication) still require proper capitalization and punctuation," Cutrara writes.
6. Using the passive voice. Though there are a few rare exceptions, the active voice is almost always preferable to the passive voice because it adds "greater energy and clarity to your writing," Cutrara writes.
7. Oxford comma. There's a careful balance between overusing and underusing commas—but "commas can greatly affect the meaning of a sentence," Cutrara writes, and "mastering their use is a worthwhile skill."
8. Sentence ends without punctuation. You might skip periods in a text to avoid coming off as harsh or angry, but they are an integral part of your email communications, Cutrara writes. Using them appropriately will "keep your credibility (and make your meaning clear)."
9. Proper noun not capitalized. According to Cutrara, "knowing which words to capitalize can be confusing"—but it's a necessary skill. Always double check the capitalization of any proper nouns.
10. Empty phrases. Using phrases such as "as a matter of fact," "in a manner of speaking," or "clearly," can seem useful, but Cutrara writes that they're "unnecessary and end up cluttering your writing" (Cutrara, Grammarly, 12/6/17; Tyndall, EAB Daily Briefing, 2/6).
Many otherwise high-performing professionals struggle with using email to accomplish their goals. So, what does it take to be an inbox ninja? Download this infographic to get key best practices for email-specific writing and email management.
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