Writing effective emails

Before you write an email, consider whether email is the most appropriate and effective channel for your message.

Other ways you can convey your message include phone, face-to-face discussion, meeting, E-update, Event Calendar, vUWS announcement etc.

Email is an effective communication channel when:

  • it is essential that your audience receives your message
  • a written record is necessary
  • your message is to multiple recipients
  • communication is primarily one-way
  • your message doesn't require the formality of an official letter.

Structuring your email

Take a news story approach to your email and structure your message so the most important information is at the top.

Include the purpose of the email and the call to action, if there is one, in the first couple of sentences.

Provide more detail in the next few sentences. Consider including a website address or contact details for more information at the end of your email.

Writing your email

  • Keep your email brief (less than 300 words).
  • Include only information your audience wants/needs to know.
  • Structure your email so the most important information is at the top.
  • Ensure the purpose of your email and any actions required are clearly stated.
  • Break content into short paragraphs and/or use bullet points.
  • Use a clear and concise email subject. Don't use exclamation marks, as these can sometimes identify an email as spam.
  • When emailing students, use "[WESTERN]" at the beginning of the email subject to make University emails easily identifiable.
  • Use plain English and avoid University jargon (particularly when your email is to students).
  • Don't use fancy fonts or backgrounds. They can make the email hard to read.
  • Include a URL or contact details for more information, if appropriate.
  • Review/proofread your email before sending.

Top 10 points to consider before you send an email

Your voice has been heard.

The Cross Unit Collaboration Working Group offers you tips to improve email communications.
  1. Is emailing the most appropriate way to respond? Can I call or visit instead?
  2. Do I really need to 'Reply to all', 'Cc', 'Bcc' or use the 'High importance' flag? (These should be used sparingly). Are the correct recipients in the address fields?
  3. Does the Subject accurately reflect the content and topic?
  4. Have I included an appropriate greeting ('Dear'), sign off ('Regards') and sender details (name, position and contact details)?
  5. Is my email clear and concise? Is it clear that a response is required? Have I responded to all questions?
  6. What is the tone of the email? Will it be received the way I intended?
  7. Is the email emotionally charged? Could any CAPS, bold, red, underline appear confrontational? Should I save it as a draft and return later?
  8. Is there any inappropriate or confidential content that should be removed? Have the correct documents been attached?
  9. Have I checked for spelling and grammar?
  10. Is the email from a legitimate source? Do not reply to emails requesting your logon or password details or click on links embedded in suspicious emails.