How to email

You think you know how to email. Think again. This is a guide on how to write and send emails that are considerate to the reader, and get replies. This is meant for everyday people sending normal emails.

Be considerate.

In a first email to someone, keep it under 250 words. How do you feel when people stop you on the street, then talk on and on?

Ask only one question, directly before your signature.

You can only expect the reader to do one thing. Ask for it. If there's no question in an email, the reader has no reason to reply. If you really need to, and you're already in conversation with someone, and you have more than one question you need answered, number your questions.

So you want them to reply?

Make it easy to reply. Make your reader's life effortless. Ask a single yes/no question. Provide choices of times to meet, or send them a Calendly link so you both save on back-and-forth email scheduling hell.

Extra Credit: Show you did your research

Tell them what you know about them. If you're asking for help, detail the ways you tried to solve the problem on your own. Showing you've made an effort makes people feel that you are more relevant to them, and worth emailing back.

These are the things that I see people getting wrong the most often. If you fix these in your emails, your readers will love you and you'll love yourself, because people will reply to you.


PS And when you care enough that you actually want a reply... ALWAYS Especially do this if you are emailing a relative or someone who has agreed to help you: they are busy, but they do want to help—there's no way you can get on their bad side by being persistent.

David Trejo

Engineer at Chime & consultant. Past clients include Credit Karma, Aconex, Triplebyte, Neo, the Brown Computer Science Department, Voxer, Cloudera, and the Veteran's Benefits Administration.