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The Ten Commandments of Writing Emails

Updated on January 29, 2013

I love text messages. But I am afraid the cell phone revolution is killing the art of emailing. Yes, I call it an art with good reason. Emailing should be done with care and lots of attention. That doesn’t hold only for official emails but even for personal emails. Here are the ten commandments of emailing that we should never forget to adhere to.

1.Thou shall always have a subject.

You are not writing a text message on your phone. Many people are usually so busy that they develop a habit of checking the subject lines of the emails and opening only those they think sound important. If you forget the subject line, your email might never be read.

2.Thou shall use a salutation and a signature

Avoid the hit and run technique. Always have a salutation much the same way you do when you are writing a letter. The salutation may be official like dear sir or it might just be a hi. A salutation is a way of telling your recipient that you care. And as the saying goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s also important to have a signature to append to your emails. The signature gives your recipients your contact details and your position in the company

3. Thou shall not use ALL CAPS

I recently received an email from a colleague and it was typed with his caps on. It just looks so bad. It’s like the guy was trying to scream at me! You don’t want your recipient getting the feeling that you are shouting at him

4. Thou shall be succinct

Few people enjoy reading emails. So don’t waste their time with unnecessary stuff. If you are alerting your colleagues about a news item on CNN that is of interest, don’t give the details. Just tell them of it and provide a link to those who will want to get the details. The bottom line is, be brief or the email will never be read

5. Thou shall be courteous

Even if you don’t like the person you are writing too, always remember, a little courtesy goes a long way. Never use abusive and curse words in your emails. Remember the forward button? The email could end up in the inbox of someone you so wish didn’t read your cursing. The rule of thumb is, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry

6. Thou shall avoid unnecessary jokes

It’s good to be friendly in your emails but you should avoid unnecessary jokes. Remember, meanings are often in people more than in words and what you may consider funny might be considered inappropriate by someone else.

7. Thou shall avoid forwarding emails to the wrong person

Before you hit the forward button, always double check the send to field to ensure you knows who you are sending the email to. You don’t want your supervisor receiving gossip about him in his inbox

8. Thou shall avoid excessive formatting

Ok. I know there is the WYSIWYG editor but it doesn’t mean you have to try everything in it. Just keep your email clean and crisp. Unless it is absolutely necessary that you use more than one color, stick to black.

9. Thou shall use BCC and CC appropriately

When you write to Tom and BCC Dick, Tom will get the email without knowing that Dick did. When you write to Tom and CC Dick and Harry, all the recipients will see who else received the email. Make sure you know who to BCC and who to CC before you hit the send button

10. Thou shall always reply your emails

It is rude to read an email that needs a reply and you just ignore it. A reply is an acknowledgement that you received the email, and that you understood the contents. Sometimes, all you need to say is thank you.


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    • ronhi profile image

      ronhi 5 years ago from Kenya

      Hi Patkay, Thanks for reading and leaving your feedback. Regards

    • Patkay profile image

      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks ronhi for sharing this information. It is a great hub, though I was sleepy, I have managed to read all of it, the comments and managed to put my own comment here. Many people usually forget that,"Thou shall always have a subject."

      All the best.

    • ronhi profile image

      ronhi 6 years ago from Kenya

      Rehana Stormme, Thanks a bunch for your feedback

    • Rehana Stormme profile image

      Rehana Stormme 6 years ago

      Great hub! I enjoyed the read. Using the 10 commandments approach was a great idea. Voted up!!

    • ronhi profile image

      ronhi 6 years ago from Kenya

      Kimberly, i agree with you completely. Thanks for your comment. Faithfulone, thou shall repent :-)

    • profile image

      fiathfulone 6 years ago

      Very insightful...i just finished doing an email and i cant believe i broke commandment number one!

    • Kimberly Turner profile image

      Kimberly Quevedo 6 years ago from New Jersey


      I love your article and I can't believe how many people don't know e-mail etiquette (who writes a letter in all caps!?). I think it is very important to always carry yourself professionally, no matter who the person is, in an e-mail because e-mail is forever and you never know who it may get forwarded to! I love all your tips.

    • ronhi profile image

      ronhi 6 years ago from Kenya

      nikashi, hahaha...thanks for remembering the salutation :-) and thanks for your comment

    • profile image

      nikashi_designs 6 years ago

      Hi Ronhi, (salutation)

      Nice job, short and to the point. Surprising how many people don't have a clue about how to compose an email. The funny thing now, in most University's email sent by students won't be read by a professor unless it is well formatted and proper grammar is used.