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How to Choose a Mattress – The Ultimate Mattress-Buying Guide
Replacing your mattress can be exhausting. Navigating the stores and websites, debating between foam and springs, and determining how much to spend can leave you feeling you need a good nap.
Instead, skip the stress and follow these tips from Lexie Sachs, Senior Textiles Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, that will help you navigate the world of mattresses.
Where to Shop for a Mattress
Laying down in the store isn't the only way to go anymore. New mattress-in-a-box companies have won over thousands of customers with convenient shipping and free trial periods. Here's what you need to know about both.
Shop in the store if..
Go the traditional route if you want to choose from a greater variety and feel the mattress before buying it. Most stores will also offer removal of your existing mattress. The downside is it can feel overwhelming and it's harder to compare prices to know if you’re getting a good deal.
A big mistake is rushing the decision by quickly lying down on many different mattresses to find the one that feels best. If you’re going to invest in a mattress, take the time to recline for a while (at least 10 minutes) and make sure you don’t feel any pressure or pain.
In a mattress store, you should never pay full price. Always shop the sales, and don't be afraid to negotiate with the salesperson.
Shop online if..
This newer route offers a great alternative for people who hate shopping for mattresses because there are less options to compare and no salesmen to deal with.
These mattresses generally arrive in a box at your doorstep within a few days and include free shipping and a money-back guarantee (even if you simply don’t the mattress!) so there's minimal risk.The downsides are that you typically have to set it up yourself and deal with getting rid of your old mattress.
Online, the price is usually final, but it doesn’t include markups for being sold at a physical store.
How to Choose Your Perfect Mattress
There are three common types of mattresses: innerspring, foam, and adjustable.
There's no one “right” material to choose, but foam materials have shot up in popularity, especially with online retailers.
Beyond the types of mattresses, you'll need to think about a few other factors. From sleep style to negotiating with a bedfellow, here's what to look for your needs:
If you a bed with bounce
Innerspring mattresses have that familiar bouncy feel. Interconnected coils are extra-durable, but individual “pocketed” coils, each covered with fabric, reduce the ripple effect that happens when someone on one side of the bed moves.
If you prefer a firmer base
Memory foam and/or latex mattresses have much less spring. To determine quality, look at the density and thickness of the foam, which will determine how deep you'll sink. The newer, online mattresses generally use several different layers of foam, with heavier ones on the bottom for support and lighter, cooler kinds on the top for comfort.
If you want a plush top
Innerspring mattresses typically have either a fiberfill or foam outer layer, covered in quilted ticking. But even if you want an uber-plush feel, don't be swayed by a thick-looking pillowtop as it can compress over time. It's often best to choose a firmer, well-quilted mattress, and then cover it with a replaceable mattress topper.
If you to change it up
Consider an air-filled mattress, Sleep Number, which has a remote that controls how much air is inside.
Two side-by-side chambers allow you and your partner to customize the mattress firmness separately.
There are also foam mattresses ( the ones from Layla) with soft and firm sides, so you can just flip it over as needed, and modular designs that let you move around the springs on the inside.
If you sleep on your side
You'll want a surface that will support your body weight, and conform to your shape. Innersprings may have more pressure relief than some foam or latex mattresses, but a soft foam mattress or one with built-in pressure relief points around the shoulders and hips can work for side sleepers, too
If you sleep on your stomach
The last thing a stomach-sleeper probably wants is an enveloping memory foam — it would feel smothering! Instead, a firmer bed will provide the best support. Consider a firm foam, dense innerspring, or air-filled mattress.
If you sleep on your back
You'll want something in the middle — a surface that supports, but has some give so your spine is kept in a healthy alignment. You'll find happiness with any of the mattress types, but you should do your best princess-and-the-pea impression to see what feels best to you.
If your partner tosses and turns all night
Consider an innerspring mattress with pocketed coils, or memory foam, latex, or a dual-chamber air-filled mattress. Medium-firm picks will all have good “motion isolation.” But remember, these models could actually be less comfortable on the body of a restless sleeper, as there's little forgiveness against one's movements.
If you and your partner's preferences don't match
The air-filled mattresses with dual chambers can help, or check out the online mattress company Helix. Each person can fill out a questionnaire and have a side customized the responses.
If you sleep hot
Manufacturers can get carried away with claims about cooling properties, especially when you consider all the layers (protectors, toppers, sheets, and so on) that go on top of the mattress.
That said, foam or latex can hold in body heat, especially if they're very soft and a lot of your body sinks in.
Newer technology helps alleviate this issue and you can always accessorize your bed with toppers and sheets that offer cooling benefits.
If you have allergies
Foam and latex are both inherently antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mold. If you opt for innerspring or air topped with fiberfill, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover to keep irritants at bay.
If you have back pain
Memory foam and/or latex is best for those with back pain since it molds to your body for support.
If you're concerned about chemicals
Look for foams certified by CertiPUR-US as well as certifications for other materials GOLS for latex or Oeko-Tex for other fabrics to feel more confident about your purchase.
If you can't decide what matters most
Some savvy manufacturers make a hybrid-style mattress that combines the buoyancy of an innerspring core with the motion isolation of memory foam. It's a best-of-both-worlds option that can satisfy many partner disputes and sleeping styles.
How and When to Replace Your Mattress
Always check the return policy. You may get a partial refund if you bought it in a store, but online mattress companies often arrange to pick it up for a local charity and will give 100% of your money back. Make sure you can test out a new mattress for a month risk-free; this way you can get used to it before making a decision.
A longer warranty may not promise a certain lifespan. if you read the fine print. If the mattress is stained because you didn't use a mattress protector, or if you don't use a matching foundation ( a box spring) beneath the mattress, it could invalidate the warranty.
Mattresses last five to 10 years as a general rule. However, you should decide when it's time to replace your mattress based off of other warning signs.
Are you waking up sore? Is your mattress feeling lumpy? Do you sleep better on other mattresses, at a hotel? These are all signs that it’s time to go shopping.
Don't forget to extend the life of your new pad by using a mattress protector, which can keep out keep out dust, allergens, spills, and other hazards.
How to choose a brand name
Looking for the perfect brand name for your new startup?
There’s no doubt that choosing the perfect brand name is one of the most exciting and important elements of startup branding… But it’s also one of the hardest.
Get it right, and you’re a household name, Airbnb, Uber, or Pepsi.
But if you get it wrong, you could be the next “Tea Party Bookshop” (YIKES!). Then you may be forced to rebrand or face embarrassment, failure or even aggression.
Building a brand and developing a strong brand identity takes time and involves much more than a slogan and a logo. Before jumping into choosing a brand name, check out this video to get the basics of building a brand identity.
Stand out from the crowd with branded links
In this article, we’re going to run through the following 5 steps that will help you come up with some brand name ideas that will work for your business:
Let’s jump in!
Step 1: Create your brand avatar
No- not THAT Avatar!
Before you even begin to think about a name for your brand, it’s imperative to identify, as precisely as possible, the characteristics of the ideal customer for your brand’s products or services.
If you don’t know who you’re creating your brand for, then you will never find a compelling name.
Defining your target customer will come up when you’re creating your marketing and business strategies too, so it’s well worth the effort. It’s just that a lot of startups can be tempted to define their brand name right away – before they’ve fleshed out these details.
Sure – come up with a working title. But don’t definitively set your brand name until you’re sure it will appeal to your target audience and reflect your brand values.
The creation of effective brand avatars is, to some extent, an intuitive and creative process, but it’s important to use hard data as well.
Web tools such as Alexa can provide significant demographic information about visitors to competitors’ websites, including, age, gender, and location.
Looking at competitors’ Pages and accounts can also provide some useful “soft” intelligence about their customer base and online following. From these sources, you should be able to easily construct a clear picture of the customer your brand is targeting.
But this is just the beginning…
Step 2: Create your brand archetype
Having created your brand avatar, it is also necessary to define a brand archetype when coming up with a brand name that will work.
Put simply, the goal is to understand as clearly as possible what your brand will mean or represent, which is an essential prerequisite for deciding upon the best brand name to attract potential customers.
The concept of the archetype is derived from Jungian psychology, but there is no need to go deep into that.For the purpose of picking a brand name, it’s only necessary to understand that the avatar is the personification of your customer while the archetype is the personification of your company, along with its products or services.
Another helpful way to think of this is to ask yourself how your brand will create an emotional resonance with your intended customers. What brand values do you want to communicate? Would a pun or play on words be appropriate for the image you would to build for your business? Or do you want to bring a sense of luxury to mind?
You want your brand name to indicate something about who you are or what you do.
Look at these two brand name examples for inspiration:
- Nike: This well-known brand is also the name of the ancient Greek Goddess who personified victory. There’s a whole lot of powerful meaning behind those four letters.
- Dove: Doves conjure up feminine images of purity and softness. Ideal for a toiletry brand.
There are 12 main brand archetypes, including the Hero, the Innocent, and the Outlaw, to name just a few. Spend some time deciding which one fits your brand the best.
Alternatively, you can take the ‘Discover Your Brand Archetype Quiz‘ to make the process even easier.
It’s also a good idea to take some time with your team to think about the non-verbal meanings and emotional associations you want for your brand. When you’ve decided, make sure to note them down so you can add them to your branding guidelines in future. This will help ensure the different elements of your branding are consistent, cohesive and effective.
If you need some inspiration, this guide includes some great insights on how to create your own brand style guide.
Put your brand name on every link you create
Step 3: Generate brand name ideas
The next task is to generate brand name ideas, which both represent your brand archetype and appeal to your brand avatar. There are no hard and fast rules for this, but here are some general principles that can help you out.
Keep your brand name simple
The perfect brand name for your startup will generally be short, simple and easy to say. Ideally, it will be a two-syllable word, as these generally gain more traction with target audiences and are more memorable.
Often a successful startup will develop a range of products, so your brand name shouldn’t be too specific. For example, although Footjoy is probably best known for making quality golf shoes, its name is “Footjoy” not “Footjoy Golf Shoes”, as the company now also sells a wide range of golfing and outdoor gear.
With this in mind, you can start brainstorming brand name ideas.
Use word association to brainstorm brand name ideas
Start with some simple word association games. Write down, say or shout as many words associated with your brand as possible.
You want ideally to have dozens, or even hundreds, of contenders. These can then be narrowed down to just a few which you or your team think are worth testing out. A good place to start is with this in-depth article from Squadhelp, which exhausts all angles of choosing a brand.
If you’re working on your own, friends and family may be able to give you useful feedback.To kickstart the process, you might try inventing a completely new word or combining two ordinary words to form a new one – Footjoy is an example of this.
If you can’t get the creative juices flowing, consider flipping through an online thesaurus for a few minutes:
- Enter a possible name for your startup brand and the thesaurus will generate a list of synonyms and related words.
- You can then enter some of these related words to gather even more ideas.
- Create a spreadsheet of the results.
- Recombine them to create completely new, though often nonsensical, words.
Use online tools to grow your brand name list
Once you’ve got this spreadsheet, try going over to Name Mesh and throw some of the words into its brand name generator.
If that’s not helping, you can also take a look at these 7 popular types of brand names for even more thought-provoking ideas.
Consider using foreign language words
For more options, you might also consider using non-English words. Those from the romance languages – French, Spanish or Italian – are often very effective in naming luxury goods, particularly in markets such as clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, perfume, food, and wine.
But caution is required… Secondary meanings in local slang may convey the opposite of what’s intended, or even cause serious offense. Use Google Translate or do a simple web and social media search to mitigate this risk of this happening.
Step 4: Check the availability of your best brand name ideas
Once you have a shortlist of possible brand names, it is important to check that they are not currently in use. Make sure they aren’t already trademarked by another business and that a suitable domain name is available. To do this, you should:
- Do a domain name search with one of the main providers, such as GoDaddy. If you plan to use branded links as part of your branding strategy, you can also use Rebrandly’s domain name search, which can be filtered by industry. This is a quick and effective way to check if someone else is using your brand name ideas. But it is wise to also follow this up with a simple Google search.
- Look for pages and accounts using the same or a similar brand name.
- Check that your potential startup names are not trademark protected. Search at the US Patent Office or use a service such as Namechk to do this.
You can find out more about how to choose a domain name for your brand and how they can be used for branded links in the video below.
Step 5: Test your brand name
Before finally deciding on the perfect brand name for your company, it’s a good idea to test your shortlist. This will let you figure out how appealing and memorable your potential customers find them.
If you have existing customers for other products, you could survey them via , email, or one of many other online survey tools.
If you are a brand new startup, the testing may form just part of your market research, which may be conducted among family, friends, colleagues and on social media.
Whatever the case, make sure you test your chosen brand name thoroughly and objectively. If people are giving you negative responses or think you sell baseball bats when you are supposed to sell golf shoes, you’ll know you’re missing the mark.
Remain skeptical. Pay attention not only to what people say and how they respond – but also their very initial reaction.
Select the perfect brand name
Finally, once you’ve properly vetted and tested your brand name, you can start setting up your online presence.
So go out there, capture all the relevant domains, pages, accounts, and anything else necessary to finalize the process. Build your logo around your chosen brand name and start to grow a relevant and trusted brand that’s true to your values.
Brand them with Rebrandly
Some final thoughts…
Your brand name will only be one part of the long-term development of your brand. Consider the example of Apple, one of the world’s most powerful brands whose name bears no relation to its products at all.
This was a process. There are many options when finding the perfect brand name and, ultimately, this will become a very important piece of your company’s identity.
Your brand is more than a name and a logo. It’s a mantra. So define your company and what you stand for, and share it with the world.Have you recently started your own business? Share the process you used to find the perfect brand name with us in the comments below.
This Article is About:
- How to pick the perfect brand name
- Brand name ideas
- Choosing a brand name
- Brand name examples
Originally Posted: June 7th, 2016.
Post Updated: January 31st, 2019.
How to Clean a Makeup Sponge – Microwaving Your Beauty Blender
Wanna laugh at a joke? Go clean your makeup sponges. Because if you thought washing your brushes was a laughable chore, try removing old foundation from inside a foam sponge, without destroying said sponge and without leaving behind a greasy, soapy residue that threatens to break you out. El oh el.
Thankfully, with the right products and the correct instructions, cleaning your Beautyblender doesn’t have to be so complicated. And if you’re not sure where to start (or, let’s be honest, are too lazy to go figure it out), keep reading for the three best ways to wash your makeup sponge, fast—no punchline required.
OPTION 1: Clean Your Makeup Sponge With Soap
If your makeup sponge is so dirty that you’re not even positive what color it originally was when you bought it, you need to reach for the big guns: soap. Whether you prefer to use a liquid cleanser or a bar of soap is up to you, but both methods will give you the same squeaky-clean result.
Step 1: Wet your sponge.
Squeeze your blending sponge under running water until it expands and is completely soaked.
Step 2: Add the cleanser.
If you’re using a liquid cleanser, squirt the soap directly onto the sponge and begin massaging, pressing, and pushing it into the palm of your wet hand. If you’re using a bar soap, rub the sponge back and forth against the bar while applying pressure to build up a lather.
Step 3: Rinse.
Once the soapy suds have turned into a makeup-y mess, you’re ready to rinse. Squeeze the sponge underneath clean water until the water runs clear, then set it aside to dry.
Just be careful: Soap can be harsh and drying, so doing this cleanse too frequently can start to break down your sponge over time. Instead, try one of these gentler options, below, and save the bar soap for monthly cleanings.
OPTION 2: Clean Your Makeup Sponge With a Soak
If you’re a perfectionist, and a few stains on an otherwise-clean sponge will eat away at your soul, try the double-cleansing method: Soak your sponge in liquid cleanser, then follow with a gentle scrub with bar soap to remove every last bit of gunky residue.
Step 1: Soak.
Squirt a few drops of liquid cleanser into a small bowl with warm water, submerging the dirty sponge into the soapy solution. Let it soak for a few minutes before moving to step 2.
Step 2: Scrub.
Work your sponge into the soap bar, paying special attention to the areas with deep stains. Once you have a lather going, use your fingers to massage the soap deeper into the sponge.
OPTION 3: Clean Your Makeup Sponge in a Microwave
If you’d rather risk a bad breakout than spend all that time scrubbing and soaking your sponges, let me introduce you to the microwave method. A quick zap is all it takes to sanitize your makeup sponge.
“Microwaving the sponge in soapy water is essentially a supercharged version of putting it in your washing machine, which uses hot water and soap to cleanse fabrics,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “The microwave energy will also ly kill any micro-organisms that may be growing on the sponge.”
But wait! Don’t just place your dirty sponge on the microwave tray and press start or you’ll end up with a melted mess and a bad mood. Instead, follow the below steps for a sponge new.
Step 1: Make a soapy water mixture.
First, mix a few squirts of a mild soap (dish soap or baby shampoo will work) with water in a microwave-safe cup. You can eyeball it when it comes to measurements—just make sure there’s enough soapy solution to cover the spongefully.
Step 2: Wet the sponge.
Give the sponge a few squeezes in the water to pre-wet it, then fully submerge it in the cup.
Step 3: Zap it.
Microwave the cup for about a minute, waiting at least 30 seconds for the cup to cool before grabbing it from the microwave. The soapy water will have transformed into liquid makeup residue, and your gross sponge will look just new.
Step 4: Wring it out.
Once the water cools, rinse and wring out the sponge under running water, then set it aside to dry.
Six things you need to know before making your final A-level choices – Which?
Whether you’ve already decided your A-levels for next year or you're struggling to decide, here are six pieces of advice to help you make the right A-level choices.
Already have some A-level subjects in mind? See where they'll take you with our A-level Explorer, including possible degree and career paths you could be embarking on.
What A-levels should you take?
Choosing a handful of subjects to take at A-level isn't a decision you should take lightly. The A-levels you pick now can impact what you do later, namely the courses you can apply to at university (and which universities will consider you).
That said, if you don't know what you want to do in the future, you can still make smart choices now that will leave you in the best position in two years' time – see what we say about facilitating subjects below. Follow our six steps further down and you won't go wrong with your A-level choices…
Watch now: How to choose A-levels the right way
1. Taking certain A-level subjects will open up more university course options
Your teachers or careers adviser may talk to you about facilitating subjects; but what are they exactly? Facilitating subjects are a handful of A-level subjects commonly asked for in universities’ entry requirements, regardless of the course you’re applying to – this makes them a good choice to keep your degree options open.
The facilitating subjects are:
- modern and classical languages
If you don’t know what you’ll want to study at university, it can pay off later to take one or two of these.
Be aware, some universities openly discourage students from taking certain combinations of A-level subjects, particularly when subjects are very similar business studies and economics – something to bear in mind when you're making A-level choices.
And as you’ll see below, some degree subjects or specific universities will ask for certain A-level subjects in their entry requirements…
- What are university entry requirements?
2. A-levels are a lot tougher than GCSEs
The reason you take a particular subject at A-level will come down to one (or more) of these three scenarios (usually):
- you need it to pursue a particular career
- it’s a subject you enjoy and are good at
- it’s a subject you’ve not studied before but you think will suit you
Either way, be prepared for a big jump in the level of difficulty when you transition from GCSE to AS-level (or any other Advanced level qualification for that matter).
You’ll also see differences in the way you’re taught and in what is expected of you.
- Making the jump from GCSEs to A-levels
If you're unhappy with any GCSE results, get clued up on how to appeal them.
3. Certain uni courses will look for specific A-levels
This is really important if you have a particular degree in mind. You won’t be able to apply to some degree courses without having taken some specific A-levels (and scored the right grades in them too, of course).
Below are a few examples to give you an idea of what to expect (some are no-brainers)…
- Pharmacy must have: chemistry, plus at least one from biology, maths and physics
- English must have: usually English literature, maybe English literature and language or English language
- Geology / earth sciences must have: at least two from maths, physics, chemistry and biology
- Economics sometimes need: maths, very rarely do you need economics
For more guidance on what to study at A-level to go on to particular degree subjects, see our full list of uni subjects for more information about their typical A-level requirements.
Tip: check out the full entry requirement details for a handful of courses across different unis to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes within your subject.
Search for a course now to see its full entry requirements and more.
4. Some courses and unis have lists of subjects they don’t accept
Particular courses – take, for instance, an architecture course at the University of Bath – will view certain A-levels as less effective preparation for university studies than others.
Similarly, some universities – such as the University of Sheffield – actually list which A-level subjects they prefer.
Others, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), have ‘non-preferred’ subject lists.
If your subject choices don’t match up, you shouldn’t necessarily discount the course, or be put off from taking a creative or vocational A-level subject you’re really interested in. Just make sure you're satisfying an entry requirements with the other A-level subjects you're taking.
Taking a subject such as history of art, classical civilisation, economics, geology, government and politics, law, media studies, philosophy, psychology, religious studies and sociology in conjunction with at least one (ideally two) of the facilitating subjects listed above shouldn’t be an issue, if you get the grades.
Are there easy A-levels?
This is a subjective question – what you find 'easy', another student may find difficult.
That said, results day 2018 revealed some interesting gender differences at a national level, with boys achieving higher grades in French, German and chemistry, while girls did better in ICT, Media/Film/TV studies and psychology.
However, this is a broad comparison looking at one cohort of students;your own performance won't necessarily follow this trend.
You shouldn't look for A-levels to get an easy string of A grades anyway. Doing so may result in taking subjects you have no interest in, as well as restrict your future options. As we've pointed out above, universities and courses will have subjects they require and those they don't accept. Keep this in mind, and choose subjects you enjoy and are good at.
5. Know myth from reality
Don’t take everything you hear at face value or what a friend/older sibling/girlfriend's hairdresser says – the reality might be quite different. It's always worth investigating things yourself so you get the full picture.
While entry requirements are often a minimum set of criteria you have to meet, a university may view you differently from another candidate your personal statement or your portfolio if your predicted grades just miss the mark.
Don't rely on preconceived assumptions or what you hear through someone else from their experience. Double-check your facts with the university or department themselves.
We've found that media studies, law and general studies usually throw up some confusion and cases of 'he-said-she-said'. Read our guides on how unis view these at A-level.
- A-levels and AS-levels explained: including how new reforms affect you
6. Many unis and courses will consider you whatever you choose
Question: Accountancy, anthropology, archaeology, banking, business studies, classical civilisations, hospitality, information science, law, management, marketing, media studies, philosophy, politics, psychology, public relations, religious studies/theology, retail management, social work, sociology, surveying, television, travel and tourism… What do these subjects have in common?
Answer: They will all consider a very wide range of A-level choices and do not normally have essential subject requirements! So don't get too bogged down in essential A-levels you have to take.
Alternatively, how not to choose your A-levels..
There is indeed a wrong way to approach this decision. Avoid doing these when picking your A-level choices unless you want to regret them down the line.
Before you finalise your A-levels, see where they'll take you – try our A-level Explorer tool
To simply download, select the 'just download' option at the bottom of the form
You’re all signed up. Look out for your welcome email from us shortly.
How to Write the Perfect Email
Whether you’re an up-and-coming young professional or a seasoned manager, email writing is a vital aspect of business communication.
And thanks to what’s often seen as the mysteries of English grammar and the subtleties of the written word, it can be a daily struggle. That’s especially true if you have to motivate busy people to respond or address a potentially touchy subject.
To write a great email, you need to know two things: common mistakes to avoid, and next-level strategies to get ahead.
But first things first—you have to know what a great email looks if you’re going to write one.
Here’s a tip: Whether you’re writing an email, creating a presentation, or just sending a quick tweet, Grammarly can help! Try Grammarly’s app to make your writing cleaner and more impressive.
Your writing, at its best.
Be the best writer in the office.
Anatomy of a good email
Every email you write has the same basic structure: Subject line, greeting, email body, and closing. But as with every written form of professional communication, there’s a right way to do it and standards that should be followed. Here’s what you need to know to craft a solid email:
The subject line could be the most important part of the email, though it’s oftentimes overlooked in favor of the email body.
But if you’re cold-emailing someone, or just establishing a professional relationship, your subject line can entice people to open the message as well as set expectations about what’s enclosed.
On the other hand, a poorly crafted or generic subject line ( “Hi” or “You don’t wAnt to miss thos”) can deter the reader and result in your email landing in the spam folder.
“Spend double the amount of time crafting the right subject line as you do on the [body] because if they don’t open the email, it doesn’t matter,” says Cole Schafer, founder and copy chief of Honey Copy.
In most emails, you’ll want to include a quick greeting to acknowledge the reader before diving into your main message or request.
The exception: When you’re on an email chain with close colleagues, it often becomes more natural to drop the opener (as well as the closing). Though it may initially feel a faux pas, it signals a better professional rapport.
The body of an email is the meat of your message, and it must have a clear and specific purpose, such as getting feedback on a presentation or arranging a meeting with a new client. It should also be concise. That way, people will be more inclined to read it, rather than skimming it and risking missing critical information. If you can, boil it down to a few choice sentences.
And for emails that require more length and detail, keep it as focused as you can. “Nobody wants to receive a novel. You want to keep it between three, four, or five lines of text,” says Schafer.
Just as you want to start things off on the right foot with your greeting, you also want to part well. That means writing a friendly sign-off. And there are plenty of options to choose from.
For example, here are 12 common, and professional, closings that Grammarly users chose on a given day:
You’ll want to choose a closing that feels genuine to your personality and tailor it to the relationship to ensure an appropriate level of professionalism. On the other hand, common closings “love,” “sent from iphone,” or “thx,” may be best left unused in professional emails.
You can add any word to your Personal Dictionary.
Which words will you add? #cleanwritinghttps://t.co/itTRLCarol
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) September 18, 2018
Common mistakes (and what to do instead)
Just as every email is an opportunity for professional growth, there’s also the potential to fall into common bad habits. Here are eight mistakes to avoid:
1Omitting necessary Oxford commas
The Oxford comma can be somewhat polarizing, depending on which style guide is utilized for professional communications in your industry —it’s usually either shunned or hailed as a tool for clarification. Either way, a lot of people have strong opinions about it. But leaving them out can lead to confusion, depending on the sentence.
Just a healthy marriage, AP style calls for clear communication.We also believe in the value of compromise. So as a reminder, the Stylebook doesn’t prohibit all Oxford commas. If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma. https://t.co/vGsuRrwpQW
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) August 15, 2018
What to do instead: While the Oxford comma may not be suitable in certain contexts, it’s usually a good idea to use them in emails. That’s because it can help you save time and avoid miscommunication, confusion, and even legal trouble.
Grammarly users know that when it comes to hedging, it’s better to omit it than leave it in, especially in emails. And if you’re worried about coming off as impolite, don’t be: Contrary to popular belief, hedging language makes you sound less confident, which can ultimately undermine your writing.
What to do instead: State your idea or opinion, then explain the “why” behind your reasoning. That way, you’ll be better understood and your brilliance can shine through.
Your writing, at its best.
Be the best writer in the office.
3Extremely long and/or unclear copy
Would you read an email that was 1,000 words long? Probably not—most people skim emails that are on the long side. And if you add hard-to-follow sentences or mixed messages, to your draft, you’re even less ly to get a satisfactory response. (Or any response.)
“I get a ton of [emails] that are just these huge blocks of text. And I understand why they do that—so you have enough detail. But it’s really hard to read and I’m not going to read the whole thing,” says Kat Boogaard, a Wisconsin-based freelance writer.
What to do instead: Keep it concise and focus on the matter at hand. Then end with a call to action, a requested response date, and make it clear that you’re open to questions and follow-ups (if that’s the case).
4Being too casual (or formal)
Depending on your circumstances, wavering too much to the casual or formal side of writing can be a misstep. Being overly casual is often seen as a rookie mistake, but stiff, formal language can also be detrimental to your message.
What to do instead: In striking the perfect balance between formal and casual, the key is thinking about the relationship between yourself and the recipient and take social cues as your communication progresses.
“You kind of want to see what someone else is doing and participate, play along, sort of acknowledge the way communication develops and the way expectations in a relationship develop,” says Dan Post Senning, an etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute.
Here’s a tip: While GIFs and emojis can be great for creating a sense of comradery between coworkers, these can be seen as overly casual in many contexts.
“Be careful in new relationships. The intelligent use of emoticons in emails can help you be more understood. At the same time, a lot of people will read it as unprofessional, so until you’ve established that relationship, you want to be careful with how you use it. Take care and think about it,” says Post Senning.
Not all email cliches are cardinal sins. Certain aspects of your emails are bound to be a little formulaic. After all, most emails have the same basic structure, and there are phrases that you may use to ensure clarity or cover your bases. But if you’re going to repeat phrases, make sure they have a clear purpose.
As Kiera Wright-Ruiz, a social media manager at Google’s Local Guides puts it, “Even though I always repeat, ‘please let me know if you have any questions,’ I actually do want to know if they have questions.”
However, most of the time, you’ll want to edit out cliches whenever possible since they can make people tune out. Here are the top seven to avoid:
Method: We searched for terms used by Grammarly users our most popular blog articles.
What to do instead: Try reading the draft for cliches, tone, and voice to more effectively communicate your message while keeping the reader engaged. Ask yourself: If your boss (or mom) read this email, would you be happy with it? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track.
People often repeat words within the same paragraph, twice in two sentences, or just too close together to go unnoticed. While it’s not the worst offense, it’s another thing that can make a reader tune out.
Here are the most commonly repeated words to avoid:
What to do instead: Try reading your draft out loud, using the text-to-speech function on your phone, or running it by a colleague before sending it off. Grammarly can also help you catch these repeated or overused words.
Email may be a descendant of snail mail, but that doesn’t mean your messages should sound an old-timey version of yourself. In fact, emails should sound the person who is writing it. So using phrases that sound something a Victorian novel isn’t the best move if you want to connect with the reader.
“Let’s face it: Nobody wants to read a college textbook. You want to read a blog or an article or a real conversation. They’re a person, they’re not a robot. So use language that sounds something you would say if you’re just sitting in a coffee shop,” says copy chief Schafer.
What to do instead: You can get a more natural effect by pretending you’re writing to a friend or having a conversation with a friendly acquaintance. For example, you probably wouldn’t say something , “Greetings” and “I hope the weather is fair where you are” if you were meeting someone for coffee. You’d say something , “Hi” and “Thanks again for your time.”
8Overuse of exclamation points!
Enthusiasm is great. But in certain contexts, the overuse of exclamation points can do more harm than good.
This is especially true if you’re forging a new relationship or contacting someone outside of your company. You are, after all, a representative of your work when you use a company email address.
But people love exclamation points, and they’re still something that many people rely on to convey a positive tone.For example, here are the most common sentences and words people use with exclamation points in emails:
What to do instead: After you’ve written your draft, do a quick search for exclamation points and use your judgment to determine which (if any) to keep your relationship with the recipient. As a general rule, try to keep it to one or two per email with colleagues.
We’re feeling grateful today.
Grateful that a content superstar @MarketingProfs uses Grammarly. #fridayfeeling #ourherohttps://t.co/rrLpgheikv
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) September 28, 2018
Next-level email writing moves
Once you’ve got the basic structure and you know what mistakes to avoid, it’s time to focus on making your drafts stand out from the myriad emails most people get every day. Here are four strategies to take yours to the next level:
Sending an email that is remotely negative, or even neutral, can put you in a tricky place. And as with any written communication, there may be room for misinterpretation.
“In the absence of other information, our interpretation often defaults to the negative,” explains communication-etiquette expert Post Senning.
“When you’re talking about negative communication, you’re [missing] the information that is tone of voice, the twinkle in your eye, the good humor that you intend something with or even the genuine care or concern with which you’re offering critique.
So be really careful. When something reads as negative to you, it probably comes across as even more negative to someone else.”
Personalize each interaction
You wouldn’t want to get an email that reads, “Dear [client],” or which references your work in public relations when you’re actually in sales, because it would immediately show that the sender is either mass emailing you, or they didn’t do the proper research and find the right contact. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that every email you send is crafted specifically for the recipient, and that you’re sending it to the right person.
So even though it may be tempting to use templates, it’s important to personalize it and keep in mind the communication style of the recipient before hitting send. To accomplish this, a quick Google search or a peek at the recipient’s LinkedIn or feed can do wonders. Before sending, try putting yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a gut-check on tone and content.
Follow up—in good time
If you’re sending an email, you’re ly looking for a timely response. But with the large amounts of emails most people sort through each day, things can end up getting lost. As a general rule, a follow-up message should never come less than twenty-four hours after sending the initial email.
In other words: Don’t be the person who sends a follow-up request two hours after sending. In extreme cases, that kind of behavior can even get you blocked. “When you’re taking more time and actually caring about the person on the other side of the email, you’re immediately going to see a much higher response rate. I had to learn that the hard way,” says copy chief Schafer.
Make it easy on the eyes
Most of the messages you send will ly be on the shorter side, which is great for rapid responses and getting things done. But for longer emails, scannability is the name of the game. That’s when things bolded font, bullet points, underlined sentences, and a TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) section come in handy.
There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when composing an email, and there’s a wide margin of error. But after all is said and done, it isn’t about perfection. It’s about effective communication.
“I think people feel this pressure that you need to be this perfect communicator with this huge vocabulary and these perfectly structured sentences. And I don’t know that that’s always the case because you’re just two people, communicating,” says freelance writer Boogaard.