How important is email accuracy?

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Is email an art or science? If we consider science as accurately written text and art as anything slapped down on the page, then I would be persuaded to think that email leans towards the latter.

I had a very hard learning experience working at a daily newspaper. With the prestigious title of deputy chief sub editor, deemed the most suitable candidate ‘by far’ at the time of the appointment, a misspelt email almost caused by undoing.

I wrote an email for the text for the street posters for distribution that night. Suffice to say the email had a couple of mistakes. The layout guy was none the wiser and put the text on the page exactly as it was briefed. That I was there to check the posters after they were printed for signing off, and well in time to correct the error, was not enough to absolve my careless ways.

Subsequently the editor called me in to admonish my sloppy email and cautioned ‘never again’.

Since then I have made a concerted effort to pay attention to how I write my emails. You would think that those working in media and publishing where words are the business would be the most pedantic. You would be wrong. This is where I have seen the most errors.

An editorial director once responded: “We aren’t taking pitches till Apil.” To a birthday message a new media CEO replied, “Thanks for the wises.”

Another publisher I work with writes shocking emails and it leaves me wondering why email in the written form is such a poorly regarded science.

Some emails are so minimalist that they contain no salutation and try to communicate the whole message in the subject line. These I really resent.

Is there an email code? For friends and family just slap it down – content is all that matters, but for business and potential clients, grammar and punctuation are important too, very important.

I don’t have the answer and I don’t claim to be word- and grammar-perfect in every exchange, but I do know that a shoddily written email does not go down well with the recipient and may, as in my case, have devastating repercussions.

Your feedback is welcome.

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