Do you have proper email etiquette?
For any professional, no matter the industry, being an effective communicator, verbal or written, is always a good skill to have. According to a McKinsey analysis, the average professional spends about 28% or 2.6 hours daily reading and responding to emails. Needless to say, email is one of our primary modes of communication. Following these email etiquette tips, you can avoid miscommunication and become a more efficient communicator.
What is email etiquette?
Email etiquette refers to the principles that guide how we send and receive emails. These rules cover guidelines regarding grammar, appropriate language, formatting, and key reminders to getting your email noticed.
Why is email etiquette important?
Following email, etiquette can help make sure your goals are clearly and effectively communicated in your emails. By following these guidelines, you are less likely to experience miscommunication and will be able to get your work done more efficiently.
12 Email etiquette tips
- Avoid vague subject lines
- Include an email signature
- Keep your tone professional
- Use a professional email address
- Input the email address last
- Use classic easy to read fonts
- Use professional greetings
- Only use reply all when necessary
- Double-check your attachments
- Use brief but informative out-of-office messages
- Triple check recipient’s name
Avoid vague subject lines
Your subject line is the first impression people will have of your email. People often prioritize or choose which emails to open based on the subject. Your subject line should directly reflect the goal or contents of your email. Including a concise but specific subject line will increase the chances of your email being opened.
Include an email signature
Have you ever sent or received an email, and at the bottom of the message, you see “sent from iPhone”? Yeah. Well, let’s make sure we don’t do that.
Create and use an email signature in any professional communication if you haven’t already. Your email signature gives additional information about your company and can provide alternative ways to contact you. Typically, your signature should include your name, job title, company name, and contact information.
Before sending your email, take a moment to read it over and check for any grammar mistakes or typos. A simple spelling mistake or misplaced comma can change the entire meaning of a message. To avoid any miscommunication and be a more effective communicator, always proofread. If you need extra help, browser extensions like Grammarly can point out errors as you type your emails.
Watch your tone
Things like humour or sarcasm can be hard to detect over email, so always keep a professional tone. It’s also easy to come across as more abrupt than intended. Though you might intend to be straightforward, it can be read as angry or bothered.
Always be polite and keep your tone professional. It’s best to avoid “negative words” like wrong or fail. To prevent miscommunication, read your email out loud to see how the reader might receive your message.
Use a professional email address
If you work for a company, you should use your company email address for work-related emails. But if you are self-employed, job hunting or don’t have a company email, be sure to create a professional-sounding email address.
Best practices suggest basing your email address on your name. This way, recipients will know exactly who is sending the email. Never use an unprofessional email address or ones from your elementary or high school days like “hockeylover35” or “babyg1199”.
Input the email address last
You don’t want to accidentally send an email before you have a chance to finish writing and proofreading. When writing an email, add the recipient’s address to avoid sending it prematurely. Even when replying, it’s good practice to delete the address and re-add it when you’re ready to send it.
Use classic easy to read fonts
With all the font, colour and formatting choices, it can be fun to add creativity to your messages. But when this formatting becomes hard to read, your message loses its effectiveness—sticking to basic fonts that are black, easy to read and between 10pt and 12pt size, such as Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica. Only use bold, italics or underlined formatting when you need to emphasize something important in your message.
Use professional greetings
It’s common courtesy to address the recipient by title and last name. Don’t just assume that Maria goes by Mary or Jonathan goes by Jon. If you’ve built a rapport with your recipient, you may address them by their first name. When in doubt, thumb use the receiver’s name as shown on their email signature.
Additionally, use a professional salutation or greeting to start your email. Examples of professional greetings include “Hello” or “Good morning/afternoon.”
Only use reply all when necessary
The “reply all” function is beneficial when you must respond to everyone at once. But every response doesn’t always need to be sent to everyone. Use this function cautiously to avoid overflowing your colleagues’ inboxes with unnecessary emails.
Double-check your attachments
Be sure to double-check any attachments you’ve included. You wouldn’t want to send something confidential to the wrong person accidentally. In the body of your email, you can indicate that you’ve included an attachment so the recipient is sure to see it.
Use brief but informative out-of-office messages
If you cannot respond to emails for a prolonged period, use an out-of-office automated message. Whenever someone emails, they’ll receive a response indicating your absence and who they can reach out to.
Triple check recipient’s name
Make sure you’re sending your email to the right person. It can be easy to select the wrong name, so always triple-check that you got it right. It can be embarrassing for you and the recipient who received your message by mistake, so always check.
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