How to Teach Your Teen to Craft an Email or Letter

Have you ever read an email that your teen has sent? Many teens think, “I don’t need to learn the skill of writing a letter or email.” Rest assured, this is not a dead craft. And much like other “old” people skills, if your teen doesn’t know how to communicate effectively in writing, they may lose the reader before even asking their request.

A complaint we hear from teachers and business people is that they get an email that uses “texting language” teens often use with their friends. Sometimes this email doesn’t even make sense. Yikes!

Here are five easy tips your teen can use to write a simple, yet effective, email or letter:

  1. Subjects are part of the email. Do not write solely in the subject. Yep, you read that right, people will type the entire email in the subject. At the same time, don’t forget to write the subject as well. Otherwise they may think it’s spam. Additionally, try to make the subject line as specific and succinct as possible. For example, if you are writing an email to someone that just interviewed you, something as simple as “Thank You” is sufficient.
  2. Formal introductions and closings. Unless it is a stream of back and forth emails, emails should always have a formal introduction and conclusion signing off. This means always starting off an email with “Hello [name]” or “Hi Mr. [name]”, etc. Always, always, always double check spelling of first or last names when addressing an email, there is nothing that will through a reader off more than you spelling their name wrong!
  3. Do not use text messaging language….ever. Use proper grammar, no abbreviations and avoid run-on sentences.
  4. Proofread. It helps sometimes to read emails out loud if you aren’t the best at grammar. Sometimes you’ll catch things you might not have if you read out loud.
  5. Write as concisely as possible. Many people that you are emailing are receiving many, many emails a day. Get to the point quickly as you can, without being abrupt and always say thank you!

With these five tips, you will ensure successful communication in writing for your teen (and yourself!). Take your time and if you are struggling to find the words, walk away and come back. It doesn’t hurt to wait to hit the send button or put that letter in the mail.