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Everyone is still trying to solve the email problem. We continue to write about better email etiquette On A Good Note: 4 Types Of Emails You Could Write To Start Your Day On A Good Note: 4 Types Of Emails You Could Write To Start Your Day Reading inspirational quotes, visualizing a successful day, and repeating a set of affirmations are some of the ways to start a day optimistically. Have you considered that sending out an email can work equally well? Read More  and try to wipe our inboxes clean 3 Easy Ways To Stop Email Overload From Hitting Your Inbox 3 Easy Ways To Stop Email Overload From Hitting Your Inbox Email has quite a reputation as a productivity killer. Managing email well can help you keep your inbox clean, but wouldn’t it be great if you got less of it to begin with? Read More . Some developer is hunched over trying to develop the next great email app. Gmail and Yahoo are buying anyone in sight who half-succeeds.

But we don’t talk too much about the most basic habit of all – the art of writing better emails.

The email hall of infamy is littered with carcasses of careers destroyed and faces reddened because of an email faux passé. But hold on. This little post isn’t about the bad news. It is about the neat little tools that can get you ahead in the email writing department. Here are five cool (and new) email writing tools we picked up from the far corners of the web.

MailMentor

Write Better Emails -- MailMentor

Scott Hanselman said that “emails are where keystrokes go to die”. True. Be brief and crystal clear. Just pretend that you are reaching out to Mark Zuckerberg and he doesn’t have much time.

MailMentor is a basic free tool that can quickly tell if your email is reader-friendly. Paste your email in the textbox and the single-page tool goes to work. Check the time it will take to read, the reading level (go for 5th to 6th Grade or a little higher), and a few more recommended changes. After a few such copy and pastes, you will get the hang of simplifying your emails.

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Try this fun tool from Scott to find out how may keystrokes you have left in your hand. Copy-paste the email signature to let your prolific friends know about your intentions.

Markdown Here

Write Better Emails -- MarkDown Here

Writing in Markdown combines formatting elegance with speed. But Gmail has ignored it so far. If you are a coder or a developer, writing in Markdown Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Markdown is essentially a syntax language for formatting text as you write. It’s fast, and built for people who write for the web. Read More should come easily to you. If not, it’s easy to learn.

Markdown Here is a free cross-browser extension that helps you write emails in the web’s simplest markup language. Open the compose email box and then type down Markdown text. Right click on the empty space in the email and select the “Markdown Toggle” option from the resulting context menu. The Markdown text is converted to normal text with the formatting you specify in the Markdown syntax.

Markdown Here is available for the Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera web browsers, and the Thunderbird and Postbox email applications.

Gorgias

Write Better Emails -- Gorgias

The unstylish way of using templates is to save them as drafts and canned responses. So, why not notch up your productivity with templates created with a free Chrome extension? It works for Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo. More advanced team features come with a paid account. Also, save email time with keyboard shortcuts for the mundane responses.

Templates save us from the bother of typing the same stuff to the point of nausea. Take your time setting up the template messages – a cover letter for a job, a sales pitch to a client, or a simple acknowledgement letter. Reduce your email gaffes by using carefully crafted emails and not firing from your hip before the morning coffee.

Grammarly

A typo can be a deal breaker. Even if you are racing the clock, take time to go through your email before hitting send. Or trust a spelling and grammar checking tool.

The Grammarly Chrome extension is vastly improved from its earlier avatar. The contextual tool checks for 250 advanced grammar rules and accompanies errors with correct suggestions. The spinning wheel at the corner of a text box is a slight irritant. And I wish the developers would have an option to disable the checker when we want to. These two quirks aside, Grammarly is a good fail-safe to have around — second to your eyes.

TL;DR Email

Write Better Emails -- Tl;Dr

A free iOS app that could be your introduction to the “Too Long, Didn’t Read movement”. It works with Gmail. Write the TL;DR message first (up to 30 words. Then, if still needed, add as much text as you like. When you are the recipient, the app extracts the first words of each email and turns it into a post like a social media feed. You can dive into the full email if need be. Keep it short. Save time for everyone.

Maybe soon, we will follow this up with neat tools to cut short the time you spend on email. In the meantime, don’t forget these excellent Chrome extensions for Gmail productivity 11 Chrome Extensions That Will Super-Power Your Gmail Experience 11 Chrome Extensions That Will Super-Power Your Gmail Experience Google makes the Chrome browser and Google makes Gmail. Naturally, you have some great Chrome extensions to make your Gmail experience better. Read More . Now, get away from that inbox for a second. Tell us about your email disasters and the lessons learned.

  1. dragonmouth
    February 26, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    "Gmail and Yahoo are buying anyone in sight who half-succeeds."
    They are eliminating the competition, not trying to put out a better product.

    I have been using GMail for 4-5 years. I'm still waiting for them to implement some basic email features I had with AT&T's World Mail back in the late 1990s. It seems like Google's "improvements" to GMail are mostly in the area of look-and-feel, and not functionality.

    "the art of writing better emails."
    The art of writing better emails starts with the art of writing. If you have never learned how to write a proper declarative sentence, you will not be able to write a proper email. Do not expect a generation used to IMs, texting and l33t speak to write grammatically and syntactically correct, properly spelled emails.

    Because they free us from the tedium of knowing spelling, grammar and syntax, we eagerly rely, even overly rely, on spell and grammar checkers and auto-correct. Even people who write for a living rely too much on the checkers and auto-correct. Almost on a daily basis I read articles in which homophones such as "there, they're, their" are interchanged. Obviously the author relied too much on his/her spellcheck.

    • Saikat
      February 27, 2015 at 4:58 am

      They are eliminating the competition AND trying to bring out a "better product". Killing three birds actually because in many cases they are also co-opting the entire development team within the company.

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