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How to Write a Brief Email to Colleagues

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It’s the proverbial shoe on the other foot: after being the recipient of countless emails from your colleagues, now it’s your turn to write one. Ah, how we often think we can change the flight plan when we’re at the controls; but don’t be tempted. Like you, your colleagues will see your email and immediately wonder: “What do you want from me?” and “When do you need it?” No offense is intentioned, and none should be taken. Heed your own experience and write a brief email that gets right to the heart of the matter.

Write an attention-grabbing subject line. Your colleagues will open the email regardless of what the subject line says, but a well-written one sets the right tone. Blend fact and humor, if you are organizing a blood drive, for example, by saying, “Get Pumped Up on March 29” or “March 29 Blood Drive Will Close Before Twilight.”

Open your email with a friendly tone, but make your purpose abundantly clear. Provide the information news style. Say, “I’m pleased to announce that the Pumped Up Blood Drive will be held during work hours next Friday, March 29, in the downstairs atrium,” for instance.

Explain exactly how your announcement will affect your colleagues; this is the heart of what they want to know. Supply the exact hours of the blood drive and when employees will be allowed to donate -- for instance, at only previously scheduled times, during lunchtime or on a first-come, first-served basis.

Provide other information in bullet points so that it is easy to read; your colleagues will appreciate the consideration. Write an upbeat sentence: “Here are some other details you should know before we at QRS Marketing prepare to donate more pints of blood than any other company in our business park.” Place the bullet points underneath followed by colons. Say, for example, “What to eat and drink before you donate:” “How long the process will take:” and “How you will probably feel right after giving blood:” Supply the necessary information succinctly below each point.

Thank your colleagues “in advance” for their cooperation -- a hint that you expect it. Offer to answer their questions and provide the best means by which to contact you: by email, by phone or in person.


Write a draft of your email, then set it aside for a while and return to it with a refreshed pair of eyes. Scrutinize it for spelling, grammar and punctuation, remembering that your colleagues may never let you forget a written faux pas.



About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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