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10 Tips to Master Simple Email Etiquette Techniques

2016-09-08 18:22:25

If you’re a working professional, chances are you send a high number of emails each day, and you probably receive even more. The convenience of emails has certainly revolutionized the working world by making it easier than ever to communicate with colleagues both near and far. However, speaking primarily through email often means that misunderstandings and missed cues abound, which can cause some tension between coworkers as well as bosses and their employees. With this in mind, it is important to understand and utilize email etiquette, or the use of not-so-common politeness when communicating online and through text. If you feel you need help with your emails (or you know a few people who need help with theirs) these 10 tips on simple email etiquette should help.

Try These 10 Tips to Transform Your Emails


1. Always Use a Greeting

When starting an email, a nice greeting is the perfect opener to set the mood as well as set up what you want to talk about. Part of your greeting can be in the subject line, in which you outline what the email is about, but don’t settle with this as your entire greeting. A greeting can be anything from “Good Morning” to “Good Afternoon” for a known recipient, or “To Whom it May Concern,” for an unknown recipient. A simple “Hi” or “Hello” may also suffice. The bottom line is to open your email without immediately diving into the issue, as this is not the politest way to strike up a conversation.


2. Use a Polite Closer

Just as you should use a polite greeting, you should also use a polite closer for your email. In other words, say goodbye and leave on a nice note, rather than ending the email once you’ve said what you need to say. Closers are simple words like “Sincerely,” “Best,” or “Thanks.” They show that you appreciate that the recipient has taken the time to read your email as well as act as a polite necessity in common email etiquette. Closers do not have to be big flourishes or long winded sentences; as long as you close with a polite saying, it will work.

 

3. Avoid Slang

Though you might use slang in an email to a friend, it has absolutely no place in an email between professionals. Even if the two of you are friends, using slang in an email is incredibly unprofessional, and may even show a level of immaturity. If you like, slang use in a personal email is fine, but knowing when and when not to use it can truly make all the difference. In addition, if you regularly use slang with work friends or those with whom you have an informal work relationship, you may slip up and use it in an email to your boss or someone even higher up. You don’t have to speak like royalty, but do keep it simple, clear, and professional.


4. Avoid Jargon

Jargon is similar to slang, but it is less widely known. In fact, jargon is often referred to as words that that belong to a certain group. Doctors will not have the same jargon as lawyers, and so on. Though jargon may get the point across better to a certain colleague, it may be alienating to another correspondent. For example, a doctor may use jargon in an email to a colleague without problem, but using it with a patient or even another professional can come off as informal and even confusing. It is best to avoid it when you can.

 

5. Try Not to Be Informal

Today, emails are much more relaxed between workers and their bosses, professionals and patrons, professors and teachers. This is partly because we can send emails on the go with the use of smartphones, but also because our culture is a bit more relaxed with authorities and those in charge. Of course, the relationship between the two correspondents may be one that is comfortable and informal, but this does not mean it should extend to your emails. Especially for those in “subordinate” positions, say a professor and a student, being informal with one person may be seen as being rude or disrespectful with another.  In short, even if you are sending an email from your smartphone while on the toilet, you should still have a formal, if not wholly professional tone.

 

6. Be Clear and Concise

Long winded emails are in danger of not being read closely, so it is best to be clear and concise. If you have a big issue on your hands and are not sure how to relay it in writing, it might be best to talk to the person face to face or over the phone. Most emails should have a short opener, a paragraph or two of content depending upon the need and the message, and a quick closer. Many working professionals do not have the time to read (or write, for that matter) more than this, so be sure to practice it in your next email.

 

7. Never Use All Caps

There is nothing more disrespectful or insulting than using all caps in an email to a colleague. Most people take this as either intense excitement, or plain old yelling, neither of which should appear in a work setting. If you are angry about something, be sure to leave the caps lock alone and take all attitude out of your words that may be lurking there, as it will be picked up and taken poorly. If you feel the urge to use all caps in an email, it is best to take a few moments, calm down, and rethink.

 

 8. Do Not Use Bold Unless Necessary

Sometimes bolding an email is necessary, like when you need to draw attention to a date, time, or urgent direction. However using bold when it is not necessary can come off as petty and disrespectful. In fact, it is best to avoid using bold all together, unless you are reiterating something in an informative or directive email.

 

9. Address the Recipient Correctly

This circles back to being informal, but does require a bit more depth. In a professional setting, it is never a good idea to ignore one’s title if you know it. This can be seen as disrespectful and insulting, especially because you do not know how much the recipient actually cares about their title being properly used. To be safe, if you know someone holds a doctorate degree and have heard them referred to as “Dr.” it is best to also refer to them that way in your email. If you are unsure of the recipient’s proper title, “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” “Ms.,” “Miss” and so on may be used.

 

10. Never Rant

Professional emails are not a space for ranting. If you have an issue, it is best to take it up with your boss or with the person with whom you have the problem, as long as you can do so professionally. Some professionals have fallen into the bad habit of ranting about their coworkers, how the office is run, or other grievances in emails, which can lead to loss of position or other less serious, but just as worrisome punishments and results. If you wouldn’t say it in person, it is best not to put it in writing, as it may come back to haunt you.



Writing emails is simple and quick, but people often overlook the necessity of being polite and practicing etiquette. These tips should help everyone write better, more professional, and more polished emails without too much pain, strain, or confusion. For more rules and tips, go here.

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