Before you hit send!
A quick, last-minute editorial check before pressing Send can save biotech brand managers from embarrassing errors, omissions, and redundancies in their e-mails.
I have a bad habit when responding to group e-mails. Frequently, after composing a careful response to a message and hitting Send, I discover that I’ve mistakenly clicked Reply instead of Reply to All. This small omission has always grated on me—until now, because it’s given me a topic for a blog post. Here are a few other reminders to consider before pressing that unforgiving send key.
1. Check for things a spell checker won’t pick up.
The spell checker is a useful tool, but it won’t catch everything. For instance, have you mistakenly typed their when you meant to type there or they’re? How about its and it’s? One (its) is a pronoun; the other (it’s) is a contraction that stands for it is. During the writing process, even experienced writers can slip up. Proofreading your work before sending it can eliminate this common mix-up of words.
2. Check consistency in spelling.
Here’s a good example: the word healthcare. Or health-care. Or health care. Which is correct? They all are—but the important thing is to maintain consistency throughout your e-mail. If you started out writing healthcare, keep spelling it this way.
3. Omit no names from a group list.
If you are thanking team members for a job well done, have you forgotten anyone, say the assistant biotech brand manager, the traffic director, or—worst of all—the editorial supervisor? Have you spelled everyone’s name correctly? Is it Mary Ann or Marianne you should be thanking?
4. Watch for redundancies and repetitions.
Hey, did I really just write that? Here are a few examples. The italicized words in the following list are the ones to delete:
Brief in duration
Consensus of opinion
Fewer in number
Interval of time
Large (or small) in size
Red in color
Rough in texture
5. Avoid circumlocutions.
To give your writing vitality, delete qualifiers such as very, quite, and rather. And avoid sluggish sentence openings such as:
As already stated…
It goes without saying…
It is interesting (important) to note…
It was found that…
If you have something to say, don’t hedge—just come out with it. Here are other do’s and don’ts:
|an increased number of||more|
|during the time that||while|
|at this point in time||now (then)|
|the majority of||most|
|produce an inhibitory effect on||inhibit|
|in the vicinity of||near|
|in those areas where||where|
6. Watch for Sexist language.
Writers are far more vigilant about avoiding sexist language than they used to be. Even so, it can’t hurt to scan your e-mail for unintended pronoun choices.
Avoid: A patient should feel at ease with his doctor.
Better: A patient should feel at ease with his or her doctor.
Better still: Patients should feel at ease with their doctor.
In the haste of composition, it’s easy to make mistakes. Rely on your spell checker—but rely also on your own eyes. Taking a few moments to proofread your work will pay off for you. Your readers will never know you had an error and failed to correct it—unless you’ve already hit Send.