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How to Write Professional and Personal Emails? Email Etiquette

Updated on June 25, 2013

Effective communication - the key to succeed

Effective communication is one of the keys to success. In today's digital world most of us communicate with each other via email, hence it becomes crucial for us to know in what manner we must compose an email so that the message is conveyed to the other party effectively.

How can you communicate electronically with grace and style, professional versus personal emails and how to keep them separate from each other, how to respond to an email are some of the topics that fall under the broad category of email etiquette.

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Writing an email

This does not sound like a very challenging job right away but trust me putting your point across gracefully and without a shade of doubt does require some thought.

Here are some of the factors that you can take into account when you write an email.

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1. Do not type in caps

NEVER TYPE IN CAPITALS! It looks like you are shouting and if you didn't know that then, by this time you can see what I mean!

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Short is sweet!
Short is sweet!

2. Keep it short and sweet

Emails are not the place to write lengthy stories, even if it is a personal email to a dear friend! Also, with most people checking their emails on their tiny gadgets these days, it is rather difficult to scan through a lot of text. If you do have that much to spare it is advisable to just give a call.

People are pressed for time and it is best to keep your messages short and sweet with the most important points towards the top. And if you want to discuss a long story with a friend why not send an email telling him/her that you would like to to talk about something important, so what would be the best time to get in touch via phone.

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3. Use bullets

When writing an office/business email use bullets to put your points across clearly.

This makes the email look more concise than it really is since all the information is in short sentences. To the recipient it would not seem like an overwhelming amount of information to tackle and he/she would read the entire mail.

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Let's just leave this to the teens! Absolutely NOT recommended for workplace emails.
Let's just leave this to the teens! Absolutely NOT recommended for workplace emails.

4. Try not to use too many abbreviations

Do not use abbreviations like IMHO (in my honest opinion) or RUT (are you there) for either a personal or a business email. It is a strict NO for a workplace email.

This could be relaxed for a personal mail but I would leave that for the teens! And most of us assume that these abbreviations are universal whereas many may be still dumbfounded by what you might be trying to say.

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Take a moment to review your email or better still save a draft and look over once again with a fresh mind the following day.
Take a moment to review your email or better still save a draft and look over once again with a fresh mind the following day. | Source

5. Review your email before hitting 'send'

Think twice before clicking on the 'send' button. Are you absolutely sure that you want to send this email? Did you write a very harsh email in anger or did you disclose too much information in frustration? Sleep over it and when you get up the next morning you will see that this is not what you had intended to say.

It is always advisable to draft an email and then going through its contents later with a cool head before taking the plunge.

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Writing your response

If you have ever attended a training on business ethics and communication I am sure you have been told that listening constitutes another key factor in successful communication.

The person who speaks the most and does not listen to anyone is not communicating at all! Hence an email response is at par with listening and then responding in a timely and efficient manner.

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1. Respond within a time frame

Try to respond within 48 hours after receiving an email. If you are unable to do so at least have the courtesy to reply saying that you will email back within a time frame. If you are the sender then wait for the same amount of time before following up.

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2. Don't do a 'reply all' unless you know everyone in the list

This one is truly annoying!

When you receive a group email DO NOT do a 'reply all'. The sender sent a common email because he/she had something common to say to all the recipients like a 'thank you' note or an 'invite'. So if you have something to say, reply only to the sender.

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It is advisable not to use social media and personal email at work
It is advisable not to use social media and personal email at work | Source

3. Keep your personal life aloof from work

It is best not to check personal mails (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc.) or use social networking websites while you are at work. Most people at work sit in shared cubicles and their laptop/computer monitors are pretty much exposed to everyone around them.

Avoid sending personal mails from your company email account as these can be monitored.

NEVER and I mean NEVER send mails discussing your colleagues, bosses or anything out of context while you are at work (whether it be from your personal or office email account).

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4. Don't forward silly emails at work

Again the best practice would be not to forward chain letters and jokes at work, like the ones which threaten you to forward it to ten other people or your life is doomed!

My request to you is to delete them immediately and not to add to the misery of others who are already troubled by mails like these.

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5. Use 'bcc' when needed

If you are sending out a group email and some of the recipients don't know each other respect their privacy by hiding their email addresses.

How do you do that? You type in your email address in the 'to' box and everyone else's in the 'bcc (blind carbon copy)' box.

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What's okay and what's not in personal and professional emails?

 
Personal
Professional
Spellcheck
Yes
Yes
Emoticons
Yes
No
Different colors, fonts
Yes, as long as it is not difficult to read
No
Signature
Only if the recipient does not know who you are
Yes

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Other dont's

DO NOT

  • Check your email (or basically fiddle with your cellphone, PDA etc) when you are with a group of people unless it is something very urgent. It shows that you do not care about their company and is just plain rude!
  • Email a condolence note or anything else which requires a personal touch. It seems like you are escaping from the situation. Certain things still work the old fashioned way of calling or meeting in person.
  • Forward political or religious mails in the hope of influencing others.
  • Check your loved one's mails without telling him/her. It is a breach of trust and if you do have the issue of not trusting them, be open and speak to them about it.
  • Send racist, adult jokes or content using your office account. This is a very serious issue and you could even get dismissed for it.

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Comments

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    • ponx profile imageAUTHOR

      Ponx 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks quuenieproac. Appreciate you stopping by.

      If the person is a close friend of mine I would certainly tell him/her to use the bcc from the next time onwards. Else I am afraid there is very little we can do. It's more of a matter of common sense so unless the person reads this article or something similar maybe they would never know :).

    • quuenieproac profile image

      quuenieproac 

      7 years ago from Malaysia

      Good practical advice. Many people do not use bcc and it makes me hesitate to email anything to them as they will forward anything they receive to everybody. How do we remind them?

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