Subjects With Keywords

The first thing that the recipient of the email sees is the subject line, therefore it is critical that the subject clearly states the purpose of the email and what is needed to be done with it.

Military personnel use these keywords to prioritize and categorize:

  • ACTION - compulsory for the recipient to take action
  • SIGN - requires the signature of the recipient
  • INFO - for informational purposes only, no action required
  • DECISION - requires a decision of the recipient
  • REQUEST - seeks permission or approval
  • COORD - coordination by or with the recipient is needed

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How to Write Email with Military Precision

hbr.org

Military professionals begin their emails with a brief, staccato statement that states the purpose of the email and the action required, this is called their "BLUF" or Bottom Line Up Front.

An effective BLUF distills the most important information. It helps the reader or the recipient digest the content quickly since it answers the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why.

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  1. Try to fit all content in one pane. This lessens scrolling down. If in cases where more information is required, list them in bullet points so that the recipient can get a quicker grasp of the message.
  2. Link attachments instead of attaching files. This ensures that they will be given the most recent version of the file, and secures the credentials of the person allowed to see the file.

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