Rules and Tips for Good Email Etiquette
As we progress deeper into the Digital Age, we are finding out that there are still rules of etiquette that we need to follow. The world of email also has specific rules of etiquette. Every time you send an email, you are also sending a message about yourself. People will make conclusions about you whether they know you or not, based on your writing.
If you follow these six rules of email etiquette, you’ll put your best foot forward. You can be confident that you will make a positive impression. These rules apply especially in the workplace.
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Email Etiquette Rule #1: Make Sure Your Message Format Is Professional
- When sending an email, use the appropriate salutation. You can address the person by name or even include “hello.”
- Use gender-neutral language.
- If this is the first time you are emailing someone and you don’t know who the person is, use the address, “Dear Sir or Ma’am.”
- End the email with an appropriate ending such as thank you, sincerely, respectfully and other similar words.
- Include an electronic signature with your name, title and email address and/or other methods of communication such as phone numbers, websites, etc.
Email Etiquette Rule #2: Keep Your Message Short
- Include a subject so people will know what the message is about and they can determine the relevance of the email. If you do not put a subject in the subject line, your recipient may be wary and not check the message.
- The body of the message should be short – get to the point immediately. A few sentences should be all that you need.
- Your writing should include short sentences.
- Write short paragraphs and use white space. That is, write for the internet.
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Email Etiquette Rule #3: Use Professional Language
- Email messages are less formal than writing letters, but don’t allow yourself to be sloppy.
- Check for proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Nothing undermines your credibility more than a message fraught with errors.
- Avoid the overuse of emoticons. If you insert too many, you might compromise your professionalism. Some would argue that the use of emoticons in general is unprofessional.
- Think about the wording in your message. It’s sometimes difficult to convey the tone of your meaning in writing. Avoid sarcasm because your reader can easily misconstrue this as an insult.
- Avoid writing emotionally-charged messages. If you are in an emotional state, wait until you are in a more calm state of mind before attempting to write anything.
- Using ALL CAPS implies that you’re yelling at someone. It’s also difficult to read.
Email Etiquette Rule #4: No Junk Messages
- Sending junk email annoys people and may prompt them to block you.
- Don’t attach unnecessary files. People are leery of attachments from unknown senders and rightfully so: they may contain viruses.
- Avoid sending “forwards.” These messages are impersonal and often people will delete before reading.
- Fancy fonts and backgrounds can be difficult to read and distract your reader. Your audience might take you less seriously as well. Who wants to be known as Curly Cue Sue – and this is not a reference to her hair.
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Email Etiquette Rule #5: Email Is Not Private
- You can still make messages personal, but be aware that other eyes may see your message.
- Any message you send to someone is subject to being forwarded.
- Only use the “CC” (copy to) function if that party needs to know the information at hand. Otherwise you’ll clutter someone’s inbox.
- The “BCC” (blind copy) function is good for mass-mailings because the recipients won’t have to scroll through lots of email addresses. If you are secretly including someone in on a conversation, remember, email is NOT private.
- Make sure that personal message you send is actually going to whom you intend. Many an email has been sent to the wrong party, to the detriment of the sender.
- If you are looking for a job, do not, DO NOT use your current employer’s email to conduct this type of business. Your future employer will only assume you will do this again – but to them.
- Because email is not secure, assume that your employer is monitoring all incoming and outgoing messages.
Email Etiquette Rule #6: Respond To Incoming Messages Promptly
- You will preserve your image of professionalism if you respond to messages quickly.
- Do answer questions that someone has asked of you in an email. Sometimes people send back information that is irrelevant, forgetting to answer the original question.
- A good way to annoy your reader is if you use the “request delivery/read” receipts. Sometimes your recipient won’t read such messages and/or won’t be able to read because of email filtering programs. Avoid this function.