Electronic Correspondence in a Military Setting

Honestly, prior to starting this job, I had very little need for email and the few that I wrote were based upon syntax that I learned for personal letters in elementary school. Well, nobody uses cursive, and email correspondence is very different.

The Tongue and Quill

First and foremost, checkout the Tongue and Quill. It's an opinionated handbook that discusses a range of Air Force documentation, including spacing for memorandums and language in emails.

Nobody's Your Dear

This may work outside of the military, but the most common ways to begin emails are:

Mr. Jones,
SSgt Boyd
ALCON, <-- abbreviation of All Concerned

Obviously, No Love

Closing out emails with "Love," is obviously something to avoid sending to your supervisor, but the military appears to drop closings that are common in the corporate world (Sincerely, Regards). Instead, the gold standard is:

v/r, --> this stands for "Very Respectfully" which some people prefer to spell out or even drop the v. After all, Respectfully means full of respect. Being very full of respect is a tad over the top if you think about it.

Don't Ask More Than One Question

You'll rarely get more than an answer to one question per email. Bulleted lists can help with that, but any complexity or correspondence that is open to interpretation falls my next recommendation.

Pair Up Complex Messaging With A Real Conversation

This is especially important when delivering bad news. Phone calls and face-to-face conversations are important to make sure messaging is on point. Furthermore, it helps prevent the divisiveness that occurs when people don't talk in person. An "us" vs. "them" attitude can develop.


If you find that these tips are helpful, please let me know!

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