Email Etiquette – How I wish I could write perfect emails!!!

Be it online marketing, or any other field you are in; In all likelihood, you would be using emails and lots of it. I always wish I could write perfect emails, with the right subject line, right tone and the right amount of words. Working towards that, I am compiling here a list of things I should watch out for while writing emails.

Why is Email Etiquette important?

Studies have shown that 88% of Internet users use email, and 90% of working people use Internet to access email. Now that is a huge number of people sending and accessing emails left and right. We use emails to keep in touch with friends, to assign work, to know about work that has been assigned to you, to advise/scold people, so that you can avoid a face-to-face confrontation with somebody, to diplomatically put across your requirements and so on and so forth. The list is unending.

Sometimes mails make you feel good, sometimes they get on your nerves and sometimes they are just there without making any impression.

So what is included in email etiquette?

1. Subject lines – Use subject lines all the time. Period.

Use sensible subject lines that convey and summarize your content. This makes it easy for the person receiving your email to get an idea about your email quickly. It also makes searching for emails easy. So use good subject lines, and please do change subject lines when your subject of conversation changes.

2. Manners – Use ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ even if you don’t feel like using it. It could become a habit before you even notice it. Don’t write in all CAPITAL LETTERS or all small letters. ALL CAPITALS LOOK LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING. and all small letters look like you are mumbling. So be careful to use the right tone.

When in doubt on how to address a person, use Mr., Ms. or Dr. and then their last name. Like “Dear Mr. Peter”. When a person has already addressed you using your first name, it is safe to do the same and use the other person’s first name too.

3. Language – Job requests with glaring spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes would be trashed by any employer. You can be sure of that. So enable spelling and grammar check on your emails. Read through your content once before hitting the ‘Send’ button.

And please please don’t use short forms like “ur”, “thot” etc. on emails. It is ok to send a text message to your friend that way, but let a formal email please be kept formal.

4. Content of your email – Be concise, but not curt. Don’t ramble on and on trying to convince a point. Just be systematic and the point would be driven home faster than you think.

Use clearly separated paragraphs, bulleted point or numbered list if you can. And sign off properly with a good signature having your full name, designation, address, phone number on it. (depending on how much you would like the recipient to know)

5. Few extra points – Don’t use the “Reply all” option unless you really really have to. If you have to congratulate a colleague, email only him and not 25 other people also in your office.

Acknowledge mails fast, if you are not in a position to give an answer immediately. I would be nice to add when you would be able to give an answer.

Use CC and BCC fields carefully.

Don’t forward mails unnecessarily, especially if you are not sure of the facts mentioned in the email. Lot of people trust you. Don’t take their trust lightly.

Use a decent format without too many color and font combinations, something that looks jarring to the eye.

That’s it with email etiquette for now. More rules for me and you… later.

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One thought on “Email Etiquette – How I wish I could write perfect emails!!!

  1. Nice post, Nancy. Let me add a few more.

    If you are replying to someone, please answer / address all the points that the person has asked / referred to. It is so irritating to see people reply to your emails without answering all questions. If you don’t know the answer, mention that.

    There is this whole idea of answering inline. Tough to give a guideline on this. But definitely useful for certain kind of emails. If you are answering inline, try to use a different color. (And if there are too many iterations on email asking questions, try moving the conversation into a word document)

    All of us would have seen emails with lots of Re: in it. At times, the subject of the email would have moved away from the original topic. Worth changing the subject line for emails that have a long thread.

    Keep writing more…


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