Email Etiquette is a vital thing to know, especially for professional people. Emails take up to 28% average professional’s time. But in the name of productivity or to save time, people often overlook email etiquettes. As a professional, you need to have good communication skills. Email is the most professional way to communicate with your colleagues, clients and customers.
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What does Email Etiquette Mean?
Email etiquette is a proper code of conduct of Email. It is a guideline that shows us how to write a good email when sending a message to prospects, businesses partners, colleagues, managers or others. It also reminds us to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes and to use appropriate language and manners. Moreover, it means what we can do or can’t do when writing an email.
Why is Email Etiquette Important to a Company or a Professional?
In the modern era, the number of internet users is increasing day by day. Most of the businesses are happening now on the internet. It is all part of internet/digital marketing. Email is one of the ways of digital marketing. So, every company can directly connect with their prospects, co-worker, business partner through emails. So, they must know about email etiquette.
- Email etiquette can help a company establish professionalism and build a strong workplace relationship with its employees.
- As an employer, practising email etiquette can help you portray a professional image of your company. It can improve your efficiency, and it may even protect you from liability.
Email etiquette can help a company or an employee build strong communication with their prospects. It makes the information more clear and concise.
18 Email Etiquette Rules You Should Follow as a Professional
There are lots of rules and regulations for email etiquette. But we are going to share 18 email etiquette rules that you should follow as a professional. These 18 email etiquette rules will help you communicate effectively with others and pave the way for success in your career.
1. Have a Clear Idea about Email itself
First, you need to have a clear idea of what your email is about and what to include in it.
An email has some elements which you should fill up appropriately before sending your message. A professional email should have a few elements, such as
- A good subject line
- Recipient’s email address
- Email Body
You should fill up these parts accordingly and always separate these parts into sections to convey your message more effectively.
Your email body should be no longer than three paragraphs, and remember to add enough white space. This will make your message more readable and easy to understand. You can also highlight specific parts to help the reader find essential information easily when reading mail.
If you have a lot of information to share, use bullet points or numbered list to add structure to your writing. You also should be careful when you fill up a recipient email address and check if you need to fill up the cc or bcc section or not.
2. Use a Clear Subject Line
When you write an email, you need to add a clear and specific subject line. The subject line can have a significant impact on whether your emails are opened or not. The subject line of the email will let the recipient know what the email is about. So, you need to provide a clear subject line that is easily understandable by the recipient.
For example, if you’re emailing about a change of price for your company’s product, you might add the subject “New price list for XY product.”
Don’t use any kind of URL or link in the subject line. It might be considered spam to the recipient. One last important thing, never send an email without a subject line. It will move your message straight to the bin.
3. Use a Professional Email Address
If you work for a company, you can use your company email address. But if you use a personal email account, you should be careful when choosing that address.
Your email address should convey your name so that the recipient knows exactly who is sending the email. Never use an email address that is informal, such as “babycoala@…” or “catlover@…” no matter how much you love animals. A standard and proper email address should include your first and last name.
4. Use Professional Greeting
Before sending an email to the recipient, you should greet the recipient. But first, ask yourself, how is your relationship with the recipient? For instance, if you send an email for the first time to a person, the greeting should be formal.
Here are some standard greeting examples
- “Hello (first name)”
- “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. (last name)”
- “Good morning or afternoon” etc.
If you are sending an email to a friendly co-worker or colleague, you can use a casual greeting. You can use Hi or Hello. But for a new contact, you should use a proper, respectful salutation such as Good Morning/Afternoon, Hello or Dear Mr Johnson/ Dear Ms Natalie. It’s recommended to use the person’s last name unless you know them and they’ve given you permission to use their first name.
Don’t assume that Johnson goes by John or Natalie goes by Nat unless you have seen them refer to themselves in that fashion. And do not use it in an email.
You should avoid some informal greetings such as hey, gentleman or a shortened name in a professional setting.
5. Introduce Yourself
The best way to connect with an unknown person is by email; start your email body with a brief introduction of yours. It can include a few sentences with relevant information.
You shouldn’t think that the recipient knows who you are. If you know the recipient, you can mention the last time you talked or remind them how you know each other. This introduction part can make your email authentic and can make a good impression on your recipient. It also counts as a good etiquette of email.
6. Pay Attention to Your Message Tone
It is one of the crucial parts of email etiquette. It is the way your message is perceived by the recipient of your email. You are not talking to your recipient directly, and you can not watch his reaction. So, you need to be particularly careful about your word choice for email and how it may sound to your recipient.
You should refrain from using too much humour and sarcasm. You should also avoid negative words. If you use these words, you may come off as anxious, irritated or worried. And because of sarcastic remarks, you might seem like a jerk. Too many adjectives can make you sound overly emotional than you are.
So, avoiding those will help you to be more professional.
Here are some examples of those harmful words you need to avoid.
Negative words: Failure, delay, mistakes, issue, problem, trouble, unfortunate etc.
Adjective words: Serious, highly, sincerely, very, extremely etc.
Sarcastic tone means any kind of jokes or double meaning words.
7. Use a Standard Font
One of the essential things to remember is to use a standard font. It can make your email more formal. When you are writing an email, you should use only one font. The right size of your fonts is between 10 and 12 points. Make sure that you are using only black colour for your email.
If you need to copy and paste text, clear the format before sending it. It can appear significantly different from the rest of the text. You can use “Command +\” on a Mac or “Ctrl + Shift + N” on a Pc.
Here are some of the best fonts for email –
- Times New Roman
- Courier etc.
8. Use Proper Grammar & Punctuation
When you are writing a professional email, use a sentence case. You have to ensure that the first character of every sentence and proper noun should be in capital size.
It is a pleasure to join with you.]
But remember one thing, you should not use all caps or all lower-case words. It can send your email directly to the spam folder.
Email punctuation means where you should use different kinds of pause marks in your email line. Suppose you are writing a business email, but you are not closing your sentence with a full stop. It will make your email unreadable, so it is not a proper etiquette of email. Using a correct pause mark can make your email look professional.
Hence, you have to be concerned about where you should use a full stop, comma, semicolon, exclamation mark, question mark etc.
However, you shouldn’t use exclamation mark or question mark excessively. Because using too many questions mark may look like you are interrogating your recipient. And using too many exclamation marks will make your email unprofessional. Beware of this.
So, be professional and use correct punctuation.
9. Use Short URLs
Using short URLs is another good email etiquette. If you are pasting a long URL in your email, it will make your email look messy. It honestly doesn’t look very good. Try to use a short URL or, better yet, create hyperlinks.
For example, Bitly is a URL shortening tool that can be used.
It will make your email more professional and clearer.
10. Never Use Emoji or Any Informal Abbreviations
The use of emoji in a message can play a vital role in our daily communication. But it is only appropriate for instant messaging, not for a professional email message. It is prohibited for work and business messages.
Never use emoji in your email unless the recipient uses it first. It is said to reflect poorly on your professionalism. They also make you look less competent. The following picture shows what not to use in an email.
You should also avoid using informal shortcuts, jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords in your professional email. It’s not supposed to be a friendly conversation with your close people. Email is more formal than most forms of communication, so you should be careful about these.
11. Keep Your Email Precise
If you receive and send hundreds of emails every day, you don’t have so much time to read or send a lengthy message. So, it’s wise to write a short message to your recipient. This was you value the recipient and your own time.
When you write a message, don’t elaborate on it. Keep your message clear while making sure that you cover all essential information.
Suppose you need to add something; use bullet points instead of long sentences. After you’re done, take time to edit it and delete unnecessary words. If you think it’s too long, try to avoid email and find another way to communicate with your clients.
12. Always Add Your Signature
Never forget to include a signature. You don’t want someone to have to look up how to get in touch with you. If you’re social media savvy, you may include your social media information in your signature as well. An email signature is a great way to let people know more about you. It is more so when your email address doesn’t include your full name or company.
The email signature may include your name, title, company name, company website, phone number and more. If you are social media savvy, you can include your social media links, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc.
You should always include your latest and updated signature in your email. It can help you build a relationship with your client, whereas a lousy email signature will surely give the wrong impression.
13. Use CC and BCC Properly
You have to know when to use CC and BCC. They can be very useful when you apply them correctly.
CC means carbon copy. You should use this when you want someone else to get a copy of the email. This receiver will also see who else gets this email. So use it wisely.
BCC means blind carbon copy. Sometimes you need to send the same messages to different people, but you don’t want them to know who else gets the same email. It will also help you to protect other people’s email address from being exposed. For example, if you send an email to A and BCC B, A won’t know that B got this same email.
Sometimes it can be tricky to know when you should use BCC. You can use it in the following cases
- If you email a group of people, and you need to protect the privacy of your list.
- If you want to avoid giving out email addresses to a third party.
- If you want to send a weekly newsletter to clients who don’t know each other.
14. Proofread Your Email
After writing your email, you should always check for mistakes. You should look for spelling, homonyms, grammar and punctuation error in your email. You can read it loudly after finishing the email.
Careless mistakes in your email can make you look bad to your recipient. These errors can also make your email seem unprofessional. You have to ensure that your email has proper spelling and grammar. So, take time, double-check and proofread it.
15. Use Proper Sign-off
After finishing your email, stay positive that your email can make a good impression on your client. Always try to maintain an optimistic tone in your email. Never send an email while you are angry or in any emotional mode. Try to stay calm and think twice; you should email now or contact them face to face or over the phone. It will help you to avoid an unnecessary altercation.
Sign off is the last line that your recipient will read at the end of your email. You should end your line with warm greetings, which will maintain a consistent tone of your message. It mostly depends on your relationship with the recipient and your email purpose.
It’s essential to get the sign-off right. It’s your choice how will you end the conversion. But try to finish this formally. There are some standard email sign-off words:
- ‘Kind Regards”
- “Thank You”
- “Best” etc.
16. Reply Email with Utmost Care and Importance
In our professional life, we all have a busy schedule. We all have an overwhelming inbox filled with emails, and it’s not always possible to respond to emails in time. But replying to an email in time is also a necessary etiquette. So, you need to answer the email as soon as possible. You can do it in three ways.
First: If your team members message you through email, you should reply to their email within 12 to 14 hours. It is important because your team relies on your work.
Second: If you received an email from outside your team members like other colleagues, let them know that you got their message, and you will reply to them within 24 hours.
Third: If you get an email from outside your office, but those emails are professional, try to respond to them as soon as possible. You should provide your response appropriately. Sometimes it may be worth responding within a 24-hour time frame.
If you are especially in a customer-focused role, you should know that your extended response time can send an unintentional message (not a positive one). So, in that case, you should act fast to give the best customer care possible.
17. Reply All and Include Auto Message When Necessary
You should be very careful when you are using ‘Reply all’ option. Do you need it or not? Think twice before doing this. When you press “reply” of your email, you send the message only to the person who sent you that email. So no one will receive this message except that person.
But when you are using “Reply all”, you respond to everyone who is in the “To” or “Cc” fields. It is useful when every recipient needs the same information/response in regard to the mail. But sometimes, you should stop “Reply all” and consider whether everyone in the email needs to receive it.
When you are out of your office or leave for a week, you can leave an auto message so they don’t wait on you. Sometimes you also need to reply to your email more appropriately, and you need some time to respond. In that case, you can also set an auto-message. But don’t use this for every email.
18. Try to Know the Culture of Your Recipient
In the age of the internet, you can have customers from any part of the world. If you work in a multi-national company, you have to communicate with people from different cultures. The culture may vary significantly from country to country.
For instance, Japanese culture is very different from Korean culture. So, you can not mix them up and send the wrong message. Try to know the differences in culture. It will help you to communicate with them more appropriately.
Following these 18 email etiquette rules can be the way to improve your communication skill. This essential soft skill can get you noticed and move you up the career ladder. If you want to be certified in email communication, take this course on Effective Communication with Better Email.
It will help to make your email communication stronger, make you more professional and overall improve your soft skill.