Email Etiquette Rules

Email Etiquette Rules image

Few things can ruin your day quite like a series of emails gone unanswered. Whether you're the sender or the recipient, bad email etiquette can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and even lost business opportunities. Thankfully, there are a few simple email etiquette rules you can follow to make sure your emails are read and responded to promptly. So buckle up, and let’s get started on the most important email etiquette guidelines that will help you avoid common pitfalls and make you look (and feel) like a pro while you’re at it.

What Is Email Etiquette?

Email etiquette refers to a set of rules that govern how we communicate via email. Just as there is a certain way to behave in person, there is a certain way to behave when sending an email. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that communication is clear, respectful, and free of misunderstandings.

With the changes in technology, email etiquette as a concept has evolved to meet new challenges arising from the growing number of email users. And while it might seem like a trivial thing to worry about, maintaining proper etiquette in emails has become increasingly important as more and more business is conducted electronically. For instance, the use of emoticons in email communication was once considered inappropriate but is now widely accepted. So, no matter who you are or what you do, in a world where first impressions matter, it is vital to ensure your emails are well-written and polished.

10 Rules for Email Etiquette Everyone Should Know

From small businesses to huge corporations, good etiquette can mean the difference between a positive and negative online reputation. Whether you're new to email or a pro, the email etiquette rules listed below will help keep your communications clean, polite, and professional.

1. Be clear and concise in your subject line.

Whether you're writing an email to someone for the first time or sending a follow-up email, the same emailing rules apply, so keep your subject line short, sweet, and to the point. A clear and concise subject line will let the recipient know what the email is about and encourage them to open it.

Subject lines such as "Question about your presentation" or "Following up on our conversation" are more likely to be opened than a generic one like "Hello," which doesn’t actually say anything. The ultimate goal here is to ensure that the receiver understands you're writing to address their issues or business concerns.

2. Always greet your recipient/s accordingly.

When it comes to workplace or professional email etiquette, it is best to err on the side of formality. This means using a professional greeting such as "Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smith" or "To whom it may concern." If you know the name of the person you're emailing, use it. However, if you're not sure, it's always better to be too formal than too informal. Also, if your email is addressed to two people or more, be sure to use a greeting that includes all of them, such as "Dear All" or "Hello Everyone.”

3. Use a professional email address.

Regardless of whether you’re a small business owner or are employed in one of the best email marketing companies, you need to use a professional email address. A professional email address is one that uses your first and last name or your business name, and it should be from a reputed domain such as Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, or Outlook. This is the most important business email etiquette rule, as it will make you look more credible and trustworthy to potential clients.

4. Check your spelling and grammar.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people don't bother to proofread their emails before hitting send. Always take a few minutes to check your email for any grammatical or spelling errors. This will help to ensure that your communication is clear and professional. Also, avoid using abbreviations or text speak as this can come across as unprofessional.

5. Avoid contractions, exclamations, and ALL CAPS.

Using all caps in an email is the equivalent of yelling, and it's generally considered rude. Not to mention, it's also very difficult to read and a classic example of bad office email etiquette. Moreover, your tone should typically be courteous and professional throughout your email, meaning contractions such as "don't," "can't," or "won't" are a no-go. Remember that the recipient cannot see your tone or body language, so it's important to choose your words carefully.

Using all caps and contractions might make you sound curt, condescending, or worse, angry. The same goes for exclamations — the only time it’s advisable to use them is when you want to display excitement which is warranted.

6. Include a professional email signature.

A signature is a block of text that's automatically added to the end of your email. It typically includes your name, job title, company, website, and contact information such as your phone number and email address. A signature is a great way to make sure that your recipients can easily get in touch with you if they need to. Plus, if you use the correct email signature size, it will make you look more credible and professional.

7. Keep your message brief and to the point.

Most people are pressed for time, so when they open their inbox, they're looking for quick and easy reads. Keep your emails concise and to the point, especially if you are promoting products — no one wants to wade through paragraphs of text just to find out what you need from them. Customized emails are used by 76% of marketers and, in most cases, deliver excellent results. If, however, you are sending a mass email, be sure to include a clear call-to-action so that your recipients know what you want them to do.

8. Use proper formatting.

As much as 47.3% of emails end up as spam because they appear suspicious, meaning short paragraphs, bulleted lists, and enough white space are the way to go if you want your email to look professional. The most important thing is to make your email easy to read and digest. Also, be sure to use a professional font such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri, as many email clients will block emails that use more decorative fonts.

9. Humor is a double-edged sword.

In other words, think twice before you joke. Using emojis or inserting funny GIFs is great for some situations, but not all. If you're unsure whether or not your recipient will appreciate your sense of humor, it's best to play it safe and keep your email serious. This is especially true if you're emailing someone for the first time or don't know them well. Colloquialisms, slang, and inside jokes are also a no-no as they can be easily misconstrued.

10. Be careful with CC and BCC.

Have you checked whether the recipient/s are the ones you truly want to communicate with? If not, it may be frustrating for them to receive copies of every email or to see every response in a chain. This especially goes for content that is not relevant to your recipient/s.

Use the "CC" field (carbon copy) and the "BCC" (blind carbon copy) accordingly. Both of these fields allow you to send a copy of your email to multiple recipients. The difference is that when you're using the "CC" field, everyone will be able to see who else received a copy, while the "BCC" field means the others will not be able to see who else received a copy.

Bonus Email Etiquette Tips

Add the email address last.

Nothing screams bad email etiquette as accidentally sending an email before it's finished or sending it to the wrong recipient. To avoid this, add the recipient's email address last after you've proofread your email and are confident that it's ready to be sent.

Consider the cultural background of your recipient/s.

We live in a multicultural world, and no matter whether you want to comply with business, office, or email etiquette in the workplace, it's always important to consider the cultural backgrounds of your colleagues, customers, or business partners and reflect that in your email communication.

And last but not least, be prompt with your replies.

This goes for both work and personal email. No one likes to be kept waiting, especially when it comes to something as immediate as email. So, if you can reply right away, do so. If not, be sure to at least acknowledge that you've seen the email and let the sender know when they can expect a response.

Email Etiquette FAQs

What is the golden rule of email etiquette?

That is never to send an email you're not completely comfortable with because you never know where it will be seen or how it will be received.

What are the 6 basic rules of email etiquette?

The six basic rules of professional email etiquette are the following:

  1. Always use a professional email address;
  2. Proofread your emails;
  3. Pay attention to formatting;
  4. Check if the email address is correct;
  5. "Reply all" only when needed;
  6. Keep your fonts simple and basic.

What is good email etiquette?

Email etiquette rules outline that you must always consider the recipient/s and how they might interpret your email. This means taking the time to proofread your email, paying attention to formatting, and using a professional email address. It also means being aware of cultural differences and using common courtesy in your email communication.

Be the first to comment!