Proper email etiquette is essential in order to come across as intelligent, respectful, and professional when corresponding at work. Writing a professional email isn’t difficult and will help you make the best impression possible with colleagues and clients. Before you press send, try incorporating these simple ideas to supercharge your email efforts.
Do – Include a brief and clear subject line.
A good subject line will clearly convey the purpose of your email in 7-10 words. Be specific so that your recipient can easily recognize and locate your email in their inbox. For example, instead of “Follow up”, you can be more specific with “Follow up from our call on 1/15”. Subject lines such as “Hello” or “Request” are not useful and can be misinterpreted as spam.
Do – Use an appropriate greeting.
A professional email should always begin with a proper greeting. Good examples of simple, professional greetings are: Dear [Name], Hello [Name], Greetings [Name], Good Morning Everyone, or Good Afternoon All. Always follow your greeting with the recipient’s name and err on the formal side if you are unsure by using Mr., Ms., etc.
Don’t – Be too familiar.
Only use a nickname or shorten a name if you know the individual personally. Calling someone Joe when their name is Joseph can get under the recipient’s skin right off the bat. Also, our parents have always said, manners matter – so use “Please” and Thank you” wherever appropriate.
Do – Keep your message concise.
Generally, 50-200 words should be enough to get your message across in most professional emails. People receive a lot of emails so taking the time to make your message easier to read shows that you respect the recipient’s time. A good rule of thumb is to provide the following details:
- Introduction – Politely introduce yourself.
- Request/Purpose – Tell the recipient what you want or need from them.
- Summary – Summarize your request and politely ask for a response, with a deadline if necessary.
Do – Make it actionable.
The easier you can make it for the recipient to act, the more likely they are to respond with what you need. Making your request succinct will make your email much easier to read. A few ways to state your request or purpose are “I am writing to inform you that…”, “I am writing in reference to…”, and “I am writing to inquire about…”. Using bullet points can also help clearly highlight and separate out pertinent information.
Don’t – Use Too Many Exclamation Points.
Exclamation points, capitalized words, and emojis can read as juvenile or emotional. Using all capital letters can look like you’re shouting, and all lowercase can read as lazy. Beware of using text message lingo and shorthand. The goal is to be taken seriously and professionally, so save the LOLs for texting with friends.
Do – Proofread Your Email.
Remember to edit carefully and proofread line-by-line before pressing send. Check to make sure that you have used full sentences with complete thoughts and correct punctuation throughout. It can help to read your email out loud to yourself to catch typos and correct grammar. Tools like Grammarly will help you check and fix any errors in grammar, spelling, clarity, and formatting and can even suggest ways to adjust the tone of your email.
Do – Make sure you have the correct recipient.
There is nothing worse than sending a confidential email to the wrong Michael or Beth – so always check that you are sending the email to the correct person. Another tip is to complete all proofreading before you enter the recipient’s email address. It is too easy to press send before catching that last grammatical error.
Don’t – Forgetting Your Signature.
Closing your email in a professional way with words such as “Kind Regards”, “Sincerely”, or “Thank you”, and your full name is a sign of professional respect. Always include an email signature with your full name, company, and contact information. Make sure that you name any file attachments appropriately and refer to them in the email by saying “attached you will find…” and name the attachment. This will end the email on a professional note and help to avoid confusion.
Do – Double-check before you click send.
Have you spelled their name correctly? Is the 5th a Tuesday? Do you need to “reply all” or is only a “reply” needed? Did you include your attachments? Double-checking before you click send can save you from embarrassment and miscommunication.
Do – Reply promptly to all relevant emails.
Timely responses can be difficult with the number of emails we receive each day, but it is good etiquette to always respond within 24 hours. If you cannot respond with a definite answer because you are waiting for information, let the sender know that you have received their email and will respond as soon as possible. This way the sender doesn’t think that you’ve forgotten or are ignoring them, and they can rest assured that you are working on it.
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