Writing an email? Why you need to SCRAP it!

How to write an email

Writing an email and not sure where to start? Here's a tried and tested formula that helps you craft your message in under a minute: SCRAP.

SCRAP stands for:

Situation – 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

Politeness – this is where you finish on a friendly note

SCRAP works for any type of business email. But it works particularly well if you’ve got a tricky message to convey - for example, if you need to take a supplier to task for inadequate service.

In such situations, it can be tempting to give into verbal diarrhoea. 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 your email loses all impact because your message isn't clear.

SCRAP helps you avoid that pitfall – and at the same time keeps things civilised.

Writing an email with SCRAP: an example

Here’s an example of how SCRAP can work in practice when you're writing an email with a slightly difficult message.

Dear Jim

I attended the site of 21 Union Street today. (SITUATION)

I noticed parts of the roof are already showing damage because the correct insulation material has not been used. (COMPLICATION)

We need to replace the current materials with those we recommended in our original plans, which I've attached. (RESOLUTION)

In the meantime, please halt work on the building immediately until we can take steps to conduct the work properly. (ACTION)

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me on 020 5678 910. (POLITENESS)

Best wishes


The person writing this email has kept their message short, to the point and friendly. And that massively increases the chances of the recipient doing what's being asked of them.

So next time you're writing an email, remember SCRAP!