SCRAP - how to structure your email

Clare Lynch
A free video tutorial from Clare Lynch
Cambridge University writing tutor & professional copywriter
4.4 instructor rating • 11 courses • 109,875 students

Lecture description

Use this proven formula to outline your next email.

Learn more from the full course

Email Etiquette: Write More Effective Emails At Work

How to write emails that get results. How to write emails that build better working relationships.

58:31 of on-demand video • Updated December 2020

  • Write punchier, more powerful emails every time
  • Contribute to a positive workplace culture through email
  • Never write an embarrassing or ineffective email ever again
  • Save time and eliminate stress when writing your next email
  • Apply simple layout tricks to adapt your emails for readers on mobile
  • Avoid accusations of bullying, back-covering and discrimination in your emails
English Writing an email I'm not sure where to start? Here's a tried and tested formula that will help you craft your message in under a minute. SCRAP. SCRAP stands for Situation or where we're at right now. Complication, the problem that needs to be dealt with. Resolution, your proposed way of solving the problem. Action, the action you want your reader to take to fix the problem. And finally, Politeness. This is where you finish on a friendly note. Let's examine the SCRAP formula in action by taking a look at a letter that a fellow copywriter sent me recently. The writer started with the S of the SCRAP formula by outlining the situation or the reason he'd got in touch in the first place. "Hi Clare. The City Lit just got in touch with me about running their weekly copywriting cours. next term". In his next paragraph he moved on to the C of the SCRAP formula by outlining the complication, or the problem he needed my help with. "However, it's not suitable for me since a) I am not a trainer and b) I'm not in London". Next the writer moved on to the R of the SCRAP formula, the resolution, or his proposal for how I might help him solve the problem. "Since you meet both criteria I thought you might fancy it. Or, if not perhaps you know someone who would?". Then he moved on to the A of the SCRAP formula by outlining the action he wanted me to take. "Please let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested - and I'll pass email on". Finally the writer completed the SCRAP formula by ending on this polite note. "If not sorry to bother you - and no need to reply. Best wishes, Tom". Now that email was a pretty straightforward application of the SCRAP formula. But SCRAP can be used for all sorts of business emails and it really comes into its own when you've got a tricky message to convey. In such situations it can be tempting to give into verbal diarrhea. You find yourself writing an email that skirts around the issue because it's just so hard to say what you want to say, and as a result your email loses all impact because your message isn't clear. SCRAP helps you avoid that pitfall. It keeps your message short, focused and to the point, and at the same time it keeps things civilized and friendly. All of which massively increases the chance of your reader doing what you want them to do as a result of your email. So next time you sit down to write an email don't fudge it, SCRAP it.