How To Use Email

Ugh. I can’t believe I have to write this post. A few of my readers are old enough that they needed a Thomas Guide and a roll of quarters in their car when they went on a run, but most of you don’t even remember AOL CDs.

Growing up around computers, you should know proper email etiquette.1 Based on the emails I see around the office and the ones sent to TAPA, many people would come across better if they’d just smash their faces into the keyboard.

The yoyoing eyeballs are the best/worst part.
Artist’s rending of TAPA writing the blog.

First up, a subject near and dear to my heart– the subject line. Above the body of the email is a line labeled “subject.” What goes there? THE GODDAMN SUBJECT OF THE EMAIL.

95% of the emails TAPA receives are titled either “Question” or “Advice.” Yeah, I know you want advice. It’s an advice blog. What do you want advice about? At work, there’s a lot of “Hey” or “Help” or, God help me, nothing at all.

Even if you’re not that bad, specificity is your friend. Just today, I saw a subject line that said, “Parking.” What about parking? Is someone in your spot? Do you need an additional spot for a guest? Are you writing about parking on the lot, or are you looking for parking at the location? Maybe you’re just parking your car right now and wanted to let us know.

I’m not saying you need to write the entire content of the email, but please, try and make the subject at least a little unique. You’re much more likely to get us to open the email that way.

“But TAPA, why don’t you just open the email to see what it’s about?”

I’m glad you asked! A lot of production offices have started using a shared email account for the entire office.2 We get hundreds of emails a day, for everyone from the coordinator to the interns, from everyone from the president of the network to, well, the interns. Some emails take priority over others, sorry. If your subject is “Set,” while the body of the email reads “IS ON FIRE!”, we may not see right away.

I bet you didn’t see the picture in my Instagram feed, either.

Speaking of the body of the email, please, for the love of God, use proper grammar and complete sentences. Start with a quick “Hey, guys,” or, if you’re writing to a specific person, use their name.

In a new paragraph, write whatever the hell it is you’re writing about. In a new paragraph. And if you’re writing a lot, use a lot of paragraphs. I can’t stress this enough. If your paragraphs are more than three lines long, only the first and third will be read.3

Lastly, sign off with a “Thanks,” (assuming you asked for something, and if you’re writing the production office, there is a 1,000% chance you are), followed by your name and contact info.

What contact info? Your phone number, your title and/or department, and show. That. Is. It.

Another mistake I see all the time is including a ton of useless shit in the signature of your email- YouTube videos, links to their personal websites, links to their Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr pages, imaginary titles for companies that involve only their friends making short films on the weekend (President of Parades and Spectaculars at Obviously Student Films, LLC).

If you don’t have a job, your name and number is all that you need. Send links to your portfolio or reel if, and only if, it’s specifically requested for the job you’re applying to. Otherwise, you look like a crazy person.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Then again, it wasn’t long ago I had to explain how a phone works.
  2. Usually it’s some combination of the show’s title and network Sometimes, it’s a pun on the show’s subject matter that the coordinator finds hilarious, but no one else does.
  3. For those who missed it, the middle of that paragraph read: “paragraph. And if you’re writing a lot, use a lot of paragraphs. I can’t stress this enough. If your paragraphs are more than three lines long, only the first and.”
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