Email Etiquette – Know the basics

Email EtiquetteEveryone make their mistake…and those mistakes are the learning curve towards perfection. Experience makes that perfect.

Research has found that the average employee spends about 75% of their time at work combing through hundreds of emails they send and receive each day, and yet, plenty of professionals still don’t know how to use email appropriately. This is because people send and receive so many messages a day, many end up making embarrassing mistakes that could be detrimental in a professional interaction.


Dale Carnegie (1888 – 1955) quotes

“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say and how we say it.”

Electronic mail, most commonly referred to as email or e-mail since 1993, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Human communication is unique for its extensive use of language. Written communication can be clarified by planning follow-up talks on critical written communication as part of the everyday way of doing business. A few minutes spent talking in the present will save valuable time later by avoiding misunderstandings in advance. A frequent method for this purpose is reiterating what one heard in one’s own words and asking the other person if that really was what was meant.

Most common communication medium in the business community is email, You should know that what needs to be taken care, before sending, how to send, how it should be formatted.

Major business communication concern:

  1. If you cannot respond to an email promptly, at the very least email back confirming your receipt and when the sender can expect your response.
  2. Never send business attachments outside of business hours.
  3. Confirm that the format in which you can send can be opened by the other side. Be sure to down edit, or remove any part of the post you are replying to that is no longer necessary to the ongoing conversation.
  4. When replying to emails always respond promptly and edit out unnecessary information from the post you are responding to.
  5. If you forward an email that turns out to be a hoax, have the maturity to send an apology follow up email to those you sent the misinformation to or call them and sort it out.

Subject field: Most common subject field mistakes

  1. Not putting anything in the subject field and leaving it blank, you increase the risk of your email being misidentified as spam and send to the recipient’s trash or junk folder.
  2. Always take the time to type a short, concise and accurate descriptive of your email’s content.
  3. Using a previous email to type about something new and leaving the old unrelated subject, reflects a lack of tech savvy or extreme laziness.
  4. Typing all in lower case or all caps shows you lack an education. Make sure to type in proper case.
  5. Subject field in you email is not the place for your body content. i almost see this everyday. Save your questions and commentary for the body of your email.
  6. Subject filed should clearly indicates what is the topic of the email body, or a chain of ongoing conversation with CRM tag or support email tags. If there is an ongoing conversation, do not alter the subject line in the middle of the conversation. This will stop grouping the conversation continuity. If you really require to alter the subject, make sure to start a new email thread itself.
  7. When you send an email to inside your organization or outside, Subject field is the one scans on priority apart from the email id. If this is not correct or meaningful, some of the server may reject your email and tag it as spam. You do not want your email to call it as spam…don’t you?
  8. If you are sending a support request via email, Subject is the important factor to identify the priority. If you call it  as “Error” or “missing” or “Problem”; your issues won’t be prioritised unless your subject line should read the main content. For e.g.: if you are having issues with printing, mentioned the subject line as: “Printer Issue – Xerox 123”  or “Printer showing offline from Word”
  9. If your conversation is related to a support email, make sure that you are not altering the subject tag line. Just reply to that conversation raised by support system; will help the support software system to record the content inside the registered ID. Reason behind this is that most of the support/helpdesk system insert a Tag/message id to identify the record/email which talks about “a particular” issues

Addressing a contact: How to address your contact?

  • You will be able to tell if the other side is ready for a more informal tone by how they sign off their email. Follow their lead and you’ll never go wrong.
  • If you were addressing an email, you could address it in the following ways:
    Dear Firstname,
    Dear Mr. Lastname,
    Dear Firstname Lastname (only if you don’t know the person’s gender)
    But it is not correct to write Dear Mr. Firstname or Mr. Firstname Lastname. In English, it is considered impolite and very formal to address someone by their full name, and it is not correct to write Mr/Miss/Mrs/etc with just the first name.
  • If you are sending emails to more than one person and you want Mr. X to take a separate action, make sure you start with RIC: Mr. X in the body separately. RIC stands for “reading in copy” which apparently is a way of referencing a CC.

Format concerns:

  1. Think of your business email as though it was on your business letterhead and you’ll never go wrong!
  2. Do not type in all caps. That’s yelling or reflects shouting emphasis.
  3. If you bold your type, know you are bolding your statement and it will be taken that way by the other side.
  4. Spell check – emails with typos are simply not taken as seriously.
  5. Typing your emails in all small case gives the perception of lack of education or laziness.
  6. Don’t hesitate to say thank you, how are you, or appreciate your help.
  7. Always end your emails with “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” “Best regards”
  8. If sending attachments, did you ask first when would be the best time to send? Did you check file size to make sure you don’t fill the other side’s inbox causing all subsequent e-mail to bounce.
  9. If your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer and wait to reply. Review the Sender’s email again so that you are sure you are not reading anything into the email that simply isn’t there.
  10. Read your email out loud to ensure the tone is that which you desire. Try to avoid relying on formatting for emphasis; rather choose the words that reflect your meaning instead. A few additions of the words “please” and “thank you” go a long way!
  11. Do not use patterned backgrounds. Makes your email harder to read.
  12. Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know.
  13. Never expose your friend’s or contact’s email address to strangers by listing them all in the To: field. Use Bcc: if necessary.
  14. Make sure when using BCc: that your intentions are proper. To send BCc: copies to others as a way of talking behind someone’s back is inconsiderate.
  15. Try not to make assumptions when it comes to email. Always ask for clarification before you react.
  16. Never use an old email to hit reply and start typing about an entirely new topic.



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