Email Etiquette in the Work Place
How to Use Proper Business Email Etiquette
Although Internet usage has caused an increased trend of informal communication practices, it's still a wise idea to follow through on proper business email etiquette when contacting a colleague for professional purposes. Much like writing a formal business letter, your business emails should not include slang terms, text message abbreviations and other common insertions used in informal emails or instant messages. By following a few tips and guidelines, your emails will reflect your professionalism and let your credentials shine.
Crafting the Email
Label your emails with a professional subject line.The subject line of your email should be clear and to the point. The subject line should let the recipient know the purpose of the email. Instead of saying "Need to talk," try saying "discussion of X topic.
- The subject should be between six and eight words.
- If the email is being sent for a job application, include your name and the position you are applying for. If you were sending an email to a coworker, you would include the name of the project that the email is discussing.
Have a professional email address.If you use your personal email address for business purposes, your email address should communicate your name (i.e. [email protected] or [email protected]). Email addresses such as [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected] are not appropriate for business emails. If you work for a company, you should always use your work email address.
Use a formal salutation.Your email should always begin with a professional salutation. "Hey" or "What's up" is not appropriate. "Hi" or "Hello" are preferable.If you are including the name of the recipient in your salutation, do not use a shortened version of their name (i.e. use "William" instead of "Will").
- If someone has a gender neutral name, like Chris Smith, and you do not know whether the person is a Mr./Mrs./Etc., it is best to write "Dear Chris Smith."
Use professional language.You should use formal English when writing business emails. Avoid slang and colloquialisms in your email. Abbreviations, emoticons, and text message language (e.g. Lol) should not be used.
- Your email should be concise. Not only is the reader a busy person, but he or she may be reading your email on a mobile device. A short, to-the-point email is much easier to read and respond to than a lengthy, confusing one.
- Try not to address more than one topic in an email. Emails are brief forms of communication.If you cannot address the topic in a brief manner, you may need to pick the phone and call the person.
Be aware of your tone.In addition to using clear and concise language, you should read the email out loud to make sure that your email comes across as you intended it to. You do not want to sound harsh or abrupt.
- Remember that your email must speak for itself. You are not there to convey the tone and intent for the reader. Emails do not come with body language and facial expressions. Also, humor does not translate well over email.
End the email properly.It is important that you end an email just like you would end any other conversation. You should end your email by saying "Thanks," "Thank You," or "Sincerely" followed by your name. Your emails should also include a signature.
- Your signature lets the reader know how to contact you. It should include your name, company, address, phone, your email address, and a website link if you have one.
Proofread before you send.You should read your email multiple times before you send it. Do not rely on spellcheck. People will notice grammatical errors and misspelled or missing words.Proofreading is particularly important when you are introducing yourself for the first time through email. You want to make a good impression and not be judged by your email mistakes.
- When you are proofreading you should ask yourself: "Am I being clear and concise?" "Did I include any unnecessary information?" "Is there anything I can take out?"
- You should also verify that you are sending the email to the correct recipient. It can be very embarrassing to send an email to the wrong person.
Corresponding through Email
Know the difference between Bcc and Cc.You should use "Bcc" when the privacy of the email recipients is important. This may be useful in group emails or large distribution lists. You should use "Cc" when you need to include other people in the conversation and privacy is not an issue. "Cc" is helpful when you just want to keep someone in the loop about what is going on.
- It is very important that you use these two functions properly. "Bcc" should not be used to secretly pass along private information or to trap people. For example, you should not send an email to your coworker about a mistake they made and "Bcc" your supervisor.
Recognize when a phone call may be better.It may be quicker to pick up the phone instead of sending countless emails back and forth. It may be helpful to use the three email rule. If an issue has not been resolved within three emails, you should pick up the phone and call the person. There are times when the phone is more efficient than exchanging multiple emails.
- Keep in mind that this rule is not set in stone. You should use your discretion when deciding it is time to pick up the phone.
Know when to start a new conversation.If you need to discuss a different topic with the same recipient, you should start a new email. This will make it easier to keep track of conversations and will keep you from looking lazy.For example, if you have been emailing someone about an upcoming meeting, you need to start a new conversation if you wanted to discuss the outcomes of a project that is being worked on.
QuestionHow do I send a proper message to request time off?Top AnswererBe short, polite and to the point. Try something like "Next Monday I need time off to ... Can you let me know if this is approved? Kind regards, ..."Thanks!
QuestionWhat are the professional fonts to use in email?Top AnswererCheck if your company has issued guidelines on the use of fonts. Use the standard font as set in your mail server. Alternatively, reply in the font that you received the message. In all cases, fonts should be clearly legible, not fancy. Avoid switching fonts, choose one and stick with it.Thanks!
QuestionWhen to use enter in an email?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse enter after the salutation, between paragraphs, and before the closing.Thanks!
QuestionShould the other party ask for permission to include more participants in the email?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, that is not necessary, but the other party should explain why they put more participants in the email.Thanks!
QuestionIs it proper to include cartoon pictures on emails?Top AnswererNo, not in in formal messages, unless you are specifically referring to it. E.g. if you are bringing a certain cartoon picture sent between two employees to the attention of your prevention officer for safety at work (for example, one that is racist), then you can include it.Thanks!
QuestionIs it proper to say to a group listing, "Good morning all"?Top AnswererYes, that is the way to do it. If there are only two recipients, you will sometimes see both their names in the address, e.g. "Good morning Sandra and Jim", but even this is rare. The list of recipients is in the to:, cc: and bcc: fields, and no one needs to read a list of 20 names.Thanks!
QuestionShould the salutation of a business email be followed by a comma, semi-colon, or colon?Top AnswererThe proper way to do it is to use a comma. This is because the salutation is never a sentence in itself, it serves to thank the one being addressed for their attention.Thanks!
QuestionWhat punctuation follows the salutation in a formal business e-mail?Top AnswererThe salutation is the opening part of the letter. Technically, it refers only to the parts before the name, so the format is: "[Salutation] [Name]," e.g. "Dear Sandra," So if we are being precise, then there is no punctuation after the salutation. If we include the name in the definition, then the salutation is followed by a comma. The next word is capitalized: "Dear Sandra, [return] This letter is to ask..."Thanks!
QuestionShould someone who was CC'd be the first to respond to the sender?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat depends on whether the CC'd was actioned in the email; in that case, courtesy would require a response irrespective of being first or last. Otherwise, a simple "Noted" as an acknowledgement of the receipt of the email is all that is expected of the CC'd. In any case, what order the recipients respond in really doesn't matter.Thanks!
QuestionWhich is proper etiquette? When sending a large group a message should it be by email or a scan of a letter and send by email attachment?Top AnswererScanned letters are often cumbersome, direct e-mails are preferred.Thanks!
- Be courteous and respond to emails in a timely fashion. If you cannot respond to an email within 24 hours, at least let the person know you received the email and will get back to them shortly.
- Remember that email is not private. You should never put something in an email that you would not want the public to know.
- Try to use professional fonts (i.e. Times New Roman, Helvetica, etc...) when making a business e-mail. Try NOT to use fonts like Comic Sans, as it will make you look quite unprofessional.
- When replying to a group, be cautious of choosing the "Reply all" button. This will make your email go to everyone on the original list. If you intend to only address one or two people on the list, select only those recipients.
Video: Email Writing - Beginners to Experts [Email Etiquette]
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