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Most e-mail messages should fit in one computer screen. Readers sometimes do not scroll down and do not pay attention to information below the first screen. Here are some ways to organize an e-mail.

  1. One way to organize an e-mail message is to use a modified inverted pyramid style.

    • Write the most important information in the first line, like the lead in a news story, which contains the:

      • who

      • what

      • where

      • when

      • why

      • how

    • Put the smaller details in the next part of the message.

    • Write the call for action or question to be resolved as the last part of the message as follows:

    When composing e-mail, the modified inverted pyramid style works well because often readers pay most attention to the beginning and end of the message. So if the smaller details are important enough to include, but not essential to the action required as a result of the e-mail, then this style of organization should work efficiently.

  2. Another way to organize an e-mail is chronologically or sequentially. This style is appropriate when your message relays either a

    • time sequence or

    • series of steps.

  3. A third way to organize information is to write a brief introductory message and add the rest of the information in an attachment (see following figure). This organizational style is appropriate when you have:

    • too much information to fit in one screen

    • more than one or two short topics

    • longer information

    • information that is best displayed with formatting

    • a document beyond a simple message that the recipient might want to print

    • information that the recipient may want to forward without the original e-mail

    • information that recipients need to draft collaboratively—a working document



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