Business Email Etiquette 101

Electronic mail is a normal part of our every day communications.  It is easy to become comfortable when using this tool, forgetting that there can be a huge difference between contacting your BFF and sending a business email.

Often, when communicating through business email, you may not even know the recipient and it could be the first impression left with the recipient.

The average U.S. employee spends a quarter of his or her work week responding to emails. Business emails can have serious professional and legal consequences. Therefore, it is important to spend time proofreading your emails. Reading them aloud before sending them is always a good practice. For those emails that convey an important message, ask someone to proof it for you.

Before we go over some best practices for business emails, think about your own email address. Be sure your it reflects you in a professional way since it is the first impression recipients will form of you. Use your name, such as, rather than a descriptive term such as

Now let’s consider the importance of a well-crafted email.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when you are writing business emails:

  • Include a descriptive subject line
    • always enter one
    • make it concise and clear
    • remember this influences getting your email read sooner rather than later
  • Select a standard, easy to read font in black, size 10 or 12
  • Keep the content short and easy to understand
    • Use proper sentence structure
    • have an organized message with explicit, clear and relevant information
    • be specific on action requests and include deadlines, if required
    • use spell check, but remember this tool may miss the intended word, so be sure to proofread
  • When using a mobile device, avoid mobile autocorrect and make sure your mobile email includes a notation that you are sending from a mobile device
  • Use proper punctuation
    • use commas and colons properly
    • be very careful using exclamation points, if you want to convey excitement, limit use to one per paragraph
    • never use all capitals, this conveys shouting and could turn the reader off before they even begin to read the email
    • limit your use of underlining, bolding and italicizing.  Use only when it is important to emphasize something but only use once or twice, at most, in one email
  • Avoid emoticons and online abbreviations (such as OMG, LOL etc.)
  • General tips
    • if the email is about confidential information, or something that may be misinterpreted, it is better to discuss by phone or in person
    • shorten long URLs or hyperlink to an explanatory phrase or word
    • to avoid sending the email prematurely, enter the recipients email address when you are done proofing. 
    • refrain from using “Reply to All” in most situations
    • if you want to share an email that has an attachment, chose “forward”.  If you hit “reply” or “reply to all” the attachment will not be included
    • include a signature with contact information (job title, phone number and address)

Keep it simple, concise, and professional. Take the necessary time to proofread it.

Following these steps will help you ensure that every email you send conveys the impression you wish to leave with the recipient.

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