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Write better emails: 4 little things that make a big difference.

Three years ago, Inc. Magazine (a publication we quite like) predicted the demise of email by 2020. It’s a well-written piece and the points made are salient and well-researched. But with respect to the piece’s writer — and to the magazine — it’s hogwash.

According to a 2017 Radicati Group study from January 2017, better than 3.7 billion people actively write emails today. And it’ll jump to 4.1 billion by 2021.

So as long as you’re still emailing people, why not write better emails? We asked around, and most people said these five things would make all the difference in the world.

Reply All

If 15 people are on a thread, you have to assume they’re on it for a reason. And unless you started the thread, it’s not for you to ask why. So if you’re not directly told otherwise, just hit “reply all.” Don’t worry about blowing up people’s inboxes. Let them decide what they need to follow and what they need to ignore in the moment. And if they need to reference the thread later on, they’ll be happy to have it.

Context

When you forward an email to someone else, let them know why — especially if it’s a loooooooong thread. It’ll take you seconds to highlight the important part, delete what isn’t necessary or include a short note at the top. But it’ll save your recipient so much more time.

Image-free signatures

Annoying is downloading all the attachments in an email and getting little social icons as part of the package. Every. Single. Time. We’re all for using your signature to drive traffic to your social channels, but do it with words and a hyperlink (Control-K). If you want it to stand out a bit more, use a different font or size.

Brevity

TLDR. Too Long Didn’t Read. It’s the number-one reason information is missed. But sometimes you just have a lot to say and that’s okay if you make it easy to digest. Bullet point your thoughts. Break up any sections. And try to keep yourself on point. A good trick is to keep paragraphs to three lines. The space gives your thoughts room to sink in.

Think about what else you could be doing to write better emails and model it yourself. Maybe you’ll get people copying you, and we’ll all be better off.

Three questions to ask a translator before hiring them

If you need a translator, you need a good one because language police dogs are always sniffing around looking for slip-ups. Offending the wrong person with a poor translation could lead to negative PR you don’t need or, or worse, a lawsuit you probably won’t win.

So as you source translators, what should you be looking for? Price is obviously a factor, but don’t make that your be-all and end-all. Because if you’re only interested in saving a few cents per word, you’ll wind up spending a lot more to redo a poor translation.

Here are three questions you should ask a translator before deciding whether or not to engage them in a translation project:

What language do you think in?

Even the most competent translator will have a mother tongue, which is to say they’ll have a penchant towards the nuances of that language. You want your translator to think in the language you’re aiming to translate into. So if you’re looking for English-to-French (E2F), you’ll want a Francophone translator. They’ll be able to understand the English well, but they’ll write the French perfectly. If you’re presented with an Anglophone translator for an E2F translation, you may want to rethink that.

Have you worked in my industry before?

A terribly time-consuming part of a translator’s job is hunting down the correct translation for industry-specific words. Since most translators charge per word, this effort won’t affect price, but will definitely affect delivery times. And if you’re rushing to meet a drop date, you can’t afford lagging. A translator with experience in your industry will already know these words (smart translators keep records of industry terms).

Can you commit to taking the job right away?

This is a bit of a trick question because the only answer you should be expecting is “let me take a look at the text and I’ll let you know.” An experienced, savvy translator knows there are far too many variables, like text complexity and subject matter. You’d rather have a translator who can take the time to confirm than one who says they can do something they can’t.

Once you find a solid translation partner you can trust ¾ and if you can’t verify the translation yourself, you have to trust them ¾ you’ll have so many fewer hassles and no risk of run-ins with the language police.