The Golden Rules of Email Etiquette

The Golden Rules of Email Etiquette

Sending emails is the most efficient way of communicating in the world of business today. It’s quick, inexpensive and effective, as long as you stick to the golden rules when composing and sending your message.

Sending Emails Outside of Your Company

Think of your email message as a slightly less formal version of a letter rather than an upmarket text. That way you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

Fill in the Subject Box

Always fill in the subject box to let your recipient know what the email is about and so it doesn’t end up in the spam folder or being deleted without being read. Avoid both all capitals or all lower-case. Don’t use bold either, as anything like this could be mistaken as spam. 

Using bold or capital letters in the body of the message can come across as being aggressive or pushy and could trigger a negative response from the recipient.

Be Clear and Polite

Always be clear and polite. Make sure what you’re trying to say is easily understood.  Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t make the mistake of writing the entire message in lower-case, including ‘I’ and the beginning letter of each sentence. At best it looks lazy and unprofessional, at worst the recipient might think you dropped out of school half way through.

Don’t Use Slang

Don’t include emoticons, smiley faces, exclamation marks or question marks to make a point.   Similarly don’t use slang in the way you might when sending a text message, like ‘cu l8r’ instead of see you later. You may think it makes you come across as cute or quirky but in the world of business you won’t be taken seriously.

Send Your Email to the Right Person

Make sure you’re sending your email to the right person or persons. Hitting the ‘reply to all’ button is rarely necessary, so think carefully about who needs to read your email, before you send it. Respect the privacy of other recipients and use the bcc or blind copy button if needed.

Don’t Send Attachments Unless Asked

Sending attachments should only be done when it has been discussed and agreed beforehand. Some companies automatically delete any emails with attachments if they are not expecting them, as this is the most common way of letting a virus into your computer system.

Sending Emails to Colleagues Within Your Company

All of the above rules still apply, even when sending to a colleague who is working for the same company as yourself. Being polite goes a long way even if it’s someone you’re not particularly fond of.

It may be tempting to send non work related messages to colleagues you are friendly with but, again this will be viewed as unprofessional and could even lead to disciplinary action if the company feel you are wasting valuable work time. Never send or forward on an email that asks you to do so, or threatens you with bad luck if you don’t. These were originally called chain letters but now come in the form of emails and are often used to collect email addresses which are then sold on.

Finally, remember be clear, be polite and be professional. Always read your email through a final time before hitting the send button.