Making your point can be relatively easy in spoken conversation. In writing, however, it can be more of a challenge. While we mean one thing when we write, what the reader interprets may be something totally different. Sometimes the consequences of this can be significant.
How not to do it:
One thing you don’t want to do is to shout at the reader. Yet, many professionals still use ALL CAPS whenever they compose an email. This may be thought to indicate a greater importance for their message, but to most readers, it comes across like shouting.
Let’s look at an example. An instructor in the math department of a community college needs to borrow a projector from the English department. The email that the math instructor sent looked something like this:
HEY I NEED TO BORROW YOUR PROJECTOR, SEND IT OVER TODAY IF YOU CAN. THANK YOU!!!!!!
How to do it:
Believe me—emails and memos like this happen a lot. Aside from the obvious formatting changes (such as a subject line, salutation, closing, and a bit of punctuation), the words themselves need a little tweaking. Here’s a possible revised version:
This is Fred from the Math Dept. Could I please borrow your projector for tonight’s class?
Is there a lack of emphasis? No. Rather, there is clarity, concision, politeness, and readability—just what you want in most business messages.
What to remember:
Avoid using ALL CAPS. After all, who wants to be shouted at? Instead, try to imagine that you are the receiver of the message, and think how you would like to be addressed. And here’s a big tip: Read your message aloud and see how it sounds. Does it sound harsh? If so, then the reader will probably find it to be so, too.
In short, then, it is certainly possible to get your point across without the shouting of ALL CAPS or the harshness of not considering the recipient’s point of view.