The Ultimate Guide to Professional Email Etiquette
1. Introduce yourself: Don’t assume that the person receiving the email knows, or remembers, who you are unless you have already established a working relationship with them. Tell them your name and designation before getting down to business - keeping it short and to-the-point.
2. Refrain from discussing private matters: When sending out an email, exercise caution as you never know who will read it apart from the recipient. Ensure that your email discusses primarily public matters and keep any other private or personal matters for a phone conversation.
3. Curb your exclamation marks usage: Using too many exclamation marks can come across as childish or rude. Make sure to use these sparingly. Actually, the maximum amount of exclamation marks recommended in an email is one.
4. Respond on time: Making someone wait too long for a reply is unprofessional. Experts suggest that the longest amount of time you should wait to respond to an email is between24 and48 hours. Anything beyond that is unacceptable.
5. Check your grammar: Your spelling, punctuation and grammar, are a reflection of your professionalism. Take some time out after writing every email to proofread. There shouldn’t be any flagrant grammar or spelling mistakes if you want people to take you seriously.
6. Avoid acronyms and other jargon: Try not to use short forms, acronyms or other types of technical lingo that might not be understood by the email recipient. Keep in mind that emailing someone is different than chatting with them where any misunderstanding can be instantly clarified.
7. Save bad news for offline: Avoid sending bad news or complaints through email as much as possible. Since an email doesn’t have a personal element, your words could come across as cruder than they are intended to be. It’s best to solve matters of dispute either face-to-face or through a phone call.
8. Have a great subject line: Most professionals have to scan through hundreds of emails per day. As such, your subject line has to be precise and straightforward. Keep it simple, yet relevant. Any vague subject emails will probably get discarded or sent to spam. Also, make sure that your email content is in line with the subject and not just a clickbait.
9. Watch out for who you copy: Before copying others on the email, ask yourself if they really need to be looped in. You might be filling their inbox with unnecessary information, and this can backfire on you later. Also make sure to hit “reply all” only when you’re sure that everyone copied in the email should be reading it.
10. Keep it concise: It’s better not to write out stories in your email and to keep it as short and concise as possible. Go directly to the point and use paragraphs and bullet points.
11. Use an auto-responder when required: Not giving a timely reply can be considered rude by the other party. Therefore, it is advisable to put an auto-responder when you’re on vacation, stating that you will be away for a specific period of time, also saying who they can contact during your absence.
12. Use an appropriate tone: The tone you use in an email should depend on who you’re sending it to. If you’re sending an email to a new acquaintance, then you should adopt a more formal tone. If it’s someone you have already established a relationship with, then you can use an informal tone and even use emoticons.
13. Always use a signature: Your signature is a reflection of who you are and also provides vital contact details. Ensure you have a professional signature and use the format provided by your company. You don’t want your clients/contacts to get frustrated while searching for your contact details.
14. Show caution with confidentiality: Since everything in an email is written, it can be used against you in a legal situation. Don’t give out confidential information about the company or any of your personal details over email as this information could end up in the wrong hands.
15. Avoid sarcasm/jokes: Keep your inner comedian aside when you write emails. Often written sarcasm is misinterpreted and can cause offense.
16. Use proper fonts: Certain fonts are better left out of professional emails. Stick to basic fonts that everyone uses, such as Arial or Times New Roman. Also try using a consistent font type and font size throughout the email.
17. Send at the correct time: There is always a proper time to send an email. The best time would be to send it during the recipient’s work hours. Refrain from sending emails at odd hours in the night as that would be inappropriate. You should also take into consideration the time difference between countries before sending your email.
18. Be wary of attachments: It’s better not to send huge attachments along with your email as your recipient might not have the bandwidth to download them. Always ask before sending large files. You should also limit yourself to a maximum of two attachments per email. More than this can get overwhelming.
19. Keep contacts private when necessary: Whenever you send out an email to several recipients who don’t know each other it’s advisable to use the “BCC” feature to respect everyone’s privacy. It might become a problem if their contact details are leaked out without their permission.
20. Train others to do the above: Now that you’re well-versed with email ethics, spread the word by telling your colleagues and subordinates to do the same. There’s no point if one employee writes great emails but the others are not up-to-the-mark.