Although people tend to assume that informal means that they can pay less attention to such fundamentals as spelling, grammar, and mechanics, this is usually not the case. Documents, including electronic documents, may end up being duplicated and widely distributed. Several recent court cases, for example, have used email records to prove a point, and the email messages ended up being displayed on television and printed in a variety of newsweeklies and newspapers. For this reason, the vast majority of your documents will need to be prepared with sufficient care that their broad distribution would not be an embarrassment to you or your organization.
Each message type has its own formatting characteristics. See The Delmar Reference Manual for examples. Pacing the reader's expectations begins with using an expected format. In the United States, most readers will expect what is typically called Standard English. Other countries that conduct business in English have their own formatting and language conventions, so when you communicate with those outside the U.S., be sure to become familiar with their expected standards. Finally, the content for short documentsregardless of formatneeds to be structured to meet the objectives for the message type.
Short document message types include the following: