• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Part VII: APPENDIX > Drafting Electronic Writing Style Guidelines for Your Orga...

Chapter 35. Drafting Electronic Writing Style Guidelines for Your Organization[36]

[36] Excerpted from THE E-POLICY HANDBOOK, Copyright ©2001, Nancy L. Flynn. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association International, New York, NY. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. http://www.amacombooks.org.

Establishing company-wide electronic writing style guidelines helps streamline the electronic writing process for employees while ensuring the creation of e-mail messages that reflect the organization’s overall professionalism and credibility. Consider incorporating the following points into your organization’s e-style sheet:

  1. Salutations Does your organization have a policy governing the way that external readers are addressed? Do you prefer e-mail writers address customers, clients, and other nonemployees as Mr., Ms., Dr., Professor, and the like, or are first names allowed? If Mr. and Ms. are required at first, at what point in the business relationship may employees switch to the reader’s first name?

    If you have not formally addressed salutations elsewhere, do so in your e-writing policy. This minor but potentially thorny issue can slow down the writing process for employees who just cannot decide how to address an e-mail recipient.

  2. Signatures Have you established rules for message sign-off? Giving employees a choice of three standard closes (Sincerely, Cordially, and Best Regards, for example) will speed the writing process and eliminate the possibility of employees’ wrapping up business correspondence with quirky signature statements.

  3. Capitalization Is there consistency within your organization on capitalization? How do your employees handle the capitalizing of job titles, departments, job functions, and so on? Are the words Company and Organization to be capitalized? Use your e-writing policy to let employees know what words are to be capitalized, when.

  4. Names Do employees consistently refer to your organization by the same name? If not, is there a chance of creating confusion among readers? Consider adopting a policy so that, on the first reference, the company name is spelled out in full (The ePolicy Institute™); then on every subsequent reference, a company-approved shortened version of the name may be used (ePolicy Institute). Such a naming guideline prevents employees from using the considerably less formal and potentially confusing ePolicy, while saving them the tedium of spelling out the company name in full throughout their e-mail.

  5. Technical Terms and Professional Jargon The language of a particular industry’s insiders is best restricted to the intranet and other internal communications. A jargon-laden message that is forwarded to a nontechnical recipient or lands on the screen of a hidden reader could create confusion and lessen the reader’s acceptance of future messages from the writer in question.

  6. Spellings Does your organization or industry regularly use words that have optional spellings (theatre or theater, catalogue or catalog, disc or disk, etc.)? Simplify life for your employees by developing a corporate vocabulary list, complete with preferred spellings.

  7. Working Around Oddities In Internet commerce, company names sometimes begin with lowercase letters. If that is so for your company or clients, make accommodations in your employee writing guidelines. For example, because sentences must begin with a capital letter, instruct employees to rewrite sentences in which a lowercase company name appears as the first word. Consider the sentence, “www.epolicyinstitute.com, the leading online source of e-mail writing, e-mail management, and e-policy training tools and services, offers visitors a wealth of free content.” This sentence can be reworked easily to: “The nation’s leading online source of e-mail writing, e-mail management, and e-policy training tools and services, www.epolicyinstitute.com offers visitors a wealth of free content.”



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint