10 Reasons Why Email Should Be Like Men’s Underwear

It should be brief, it should have lots of white space, it should be shared only when necessary, and seven other tips to keep in mind.

Men's briefs -- clean, and unoccupied.

1. It should be brief

As with underwear, brief is better.

Keep the subject short. This helps the recipient know how to categorize your email.

Keep paragraphs short, too. 2-3 sentences are perfect — especially for reading on mobile devices.

2. It should feel comfortable

Underwear serves best when it doesn’t call attention to itself.

Keep emails friendly, but professional.

3. It should be consistent

You want your daily underwear to be reliable. Not flashy.

If you send weekly emails out (like work summaries or invoices), the subject lines should always follow a pattern.

Putting a consistent word in the subject line or always putting the date in helps the recipient to filter your emails or apply rules.

4. It should provide clear instructions

Think “Machine wash cold. Tumble dry low.”

Tell the recipient whether you need a response, and when.

If you’re giving step-by-step instructions in an email, provide a simple numbered list.

5. It should have lots of white space to be pleasant to the viewer

As with underwear.

Leave space between your paragraphs. this will make your mail easy to read — especially on a mobile device.

6. It should be appropriate if a lot of people happen to see it

We’d never expect to be hit by a bus and carried away on a stretcher with our underwear showing.

And we’d never expect our mails to be read across the company, by the media, or by the NSA.

But things happen. Be ready.

7. It should respect its intended audience

As with underwear, you may not get a response instantly.

With email, be respectful. Don’t expect a reply right away. If the matter is urgent, a face-to-face meeting may be appropriate.

8. It should be shared only when necessary

As with underwear, it’s best to minimize sharing.

When you do share email, let people know what action you expect them to take. In general, the fewer emails people receive from you, the happier they will be.

9. It should have minimal threadcount

As with underwear, long threads are annoying.

If you are forwarding an email thread, summarize it at the top in 2-3 sentences and let the person know what you need from them, and when.

10. It should be neat

No one likes messy underwear.

In your emails, avoid abbreviations, slang, typos, and grammatical errors, especially when sending mail to clients or senior staff.

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