Email Etiquette

Emailing for many business professionals has become the most important form of communication. If properly used, an email is invaluable, however, due to its almost instant nature, it can also create major headaches if misused.

This article teaches how to reduce any major faux pas and will also assist you to make the best use of email communication.

1. Treat a business email like formal letters. Be professional; use appropriate salutations, closing and headers.

2. Use a meaningful subject for your email. This could be the decider whether your email is read, ignored or deleted.

3. Structure your email in such a way that it will make for easy reading. Split the message into short paragraphs and use spacing between each paragraph. When making points, use numbers or bullets for extra clarity.

4. Use capitals only when necessary. Using capital letters throughout looks as if you are shouting. Whether for letters or email, always capitalise ’I’ and acronyms. Always start a sentence with a capital letter.

5. Keep the content of your mail professional to avoid embarrassment as emails can be forwarded inadvertently.

6. Avoid sending large attachments as some companies have download limits. Also some organisations may not allow their staff to open attachments due to virus fears. In other words use the body of the email for most of your information.

7. If you are sending email to a large distribution list and it is not important for everyone to see who has received the email, use blind copy (bcc). Otherwise it is more transparent and professional to use courtesy copy (cc).

8. When forwarding or replying to a message you have received, do not change the wording.

9. Be courteous with your email. Check the tone of the message by reading it aloud to yourself. You do not want your message to be perceived as being aggressive or rude.

10. Use ‘reply all’ with caution.

11. Do not send or forward any email with sexual, racist or sexist content. Avoid sending chain letters and junk mail.

12. Avoid using business email for personal matters.

13. Use a meaningful and sensible email signature that includes your name, email address, and telephone number.

14. Before clicking the ‘send’ button, proofread your email. Don’t rely on spell-checkers, as they may not reveal non-spelling errors.

15. Finally, never email, or commit anything to paper or electronic form when you are angry. It is wise to walk away from the computer for a while if you are not in the proper frame of mind.

We all benefit when we do things right!