16 Email Etiquette Rules You Should Follow At Workplace

Neelabja Adkuloo
ByNeelabja Adkuloo

9 mins read

Every day, we process millions of emails as an email marketing platform. Email is the most common and easy way for professionals and businesses to communicate. Emails can make or break your marketing efforts, and poorly written emails have the potential to damage your brand.

However, there are a few email etiquette for professionals to avoid errors and create better emails that impress people on the other end.

What is email etiquette?

Email etiquette is a crucial set of principles for socially and professionally acceptable email communication. It encompasses language, structure, grammar, and tone, which vary depending on the recipient and context, such as professional or personal emails.

Why is email etiquette important?

Email etiquette helps communicate better and create strong relationships. Speaking in person versus communicating over email is entirely different. One phrase in the wrong context could hurt your communications or brand.

That's why following proper email writing etiquette is so important because it helps you convey your message clearly. It also helps achieve the following:

  • Professionalism: Using proper email language, you and your organization will convey a professional image.

  • Efficiency: Improves your communication skills. Emails that get to the point are much more effective than badly conveyed emails.

  • Clarity of expression: Using appropriate tone to avoid being misunderstood or misinterpreted.

  • Protection from liability: Awareness of email stakes will protect you and your organization from costly lawsuits.

To determine how much email etiquette has changed, we conducted a survey using Google Forms and sent it to several working professionals through social media and other platforms.

Here, we'll share with you what we concluded from the survey results and how the etiquette has changed.

1. Salutation

A few years ago, even the thought of using "Yo folks" to address people in a professional email would have been ridiculous and inappropriate.

But, with the emergence of more informal workplaces, the line between casual and professional etiquette has blurred.

When we surveyed a few working professionals, we found that nearly 46% of individuals find it appropriate to use casual salutations like "Hey all" and "Yo folks."

Is it appropriate to use Yo folks or Hey all in emails? Yes (45.4%). No (36.4%), Maybe (18.2%)

However, many people are still uncomfortable with such casual greetings in a work environment. So, if you wish to play it safe, you can use words like "Dear," "Hi," "Hello," etc., to address the person you are sending the email to.

Nowadays, some people even send emails without a salutation, and while this might work for some people, it's not for everyone, so it's best to play safe until you get the hang of your work culture.

2. Emojis

Emojis were once considered too casual but are now accepted in many offices. According to our survey, a whopping 63% of people find emojis in emails acceptable.

Is it acceptable to use emojis in professional emails? Yes (45.4%), No (27.3%), Maybe (9.1%)

They use emojis to make it more expressive and add flair to their emails. And I'm sure Gina Linetti would approve of this etiquette.

Email etiquette GIF But, she is not really known for her professionalism. So, if you are unsure if your office would find it acceptable, refrain from using emojis unless other colleagues use them in their emails.

3. Signoff

Sign-offs are one aspect of the email that has not gone too casual. At least not yet.

Most people used to write "Yours sincerely" initially, but emails are not formal letters, so we have moved on from it.

Now, most people use words like "Regards," "Cheers," and "Sincerely" in their emails while signing off.

Appropriate sign-off in email result - Cheers (54.5%), Sincerely (72.7%), Regards (100%), Looking forward (54.5%), Yours sincerely (18.2%), Thanks (18.2%)

4. One-line reply

Short replies of only one line were considered rude and abrupt, but they have become acceptable. People might use such short responses because they are busy and must communicate quickly.

Is it acceptable to send one reply emails? - Yes (72.7%), No (27.3%)

Such short email replies can be sent to colleagues, but we recommend avoiding using one-liners when emailing someone higher up.

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16 email etiquette rules to follow and examples

You should always follow appropriate email etiquette to be considered professional and serious. Here are some email etiquette do's and don'ts that you can follow:

1. Use a professional email address

Create and use a formal email address that people can remember. Your email address can be your first name or a combination of your first and last name. You can also use one or two numbers in your email address. Don't use weird names and symbols in your email address.

Do's Don'ts
✔️ ❌
✔️ ❌

2. Write clear subject lines

People use subject lines to determine whether or not to open an email. Subject lines should give context to the email copy and not trick users into clicking them.

Considering email etiquette, use short and clear subject lines. Tell people what they can expect from the email, and never send an email without a good subject line.

Dos Don'ts
✔️ You're invited to our upcoming webinar ❌ FREEDOM SALE!!!!!! GET 50% OFF NOW
✔️ Marketing team meeting at 11 AM tomorrow ❌ Touching base with you!

3. Maintain a professional tone

More important than what you say is how you say it. To follow email etiquette, keep your tone friendly and polite when writing emails.

Dos Don'ts
✔️ Provide information that's factual rather than emotional. ❌ Never write an email in ALL CAPS since it reads as shouting and comes out as harsh.
✔️ Ensure that your message is clear, concise, and free of any grammatical errors ❌ Avoid negative words, forms of humor, and sarcasm in emails.

4. Keep the copy clear and concise

When writing the copy of your email, it's best to start with the core message first and then explain the context of why you are sending the email. Avoid writing long emails with too many paragraphs. Instead, you can use bullets to keep it concise and legible.

Email with concise and hierarchical copy.png

5. Mark recipients in the appropriate tags

The' To' field must mention the people who must take any necessary action related to the email.

For example, you can put your assistant in the 'To' section when sending an email to ask her to change your schedule.

The CC (carbon copy) field can be used to include people you don't wish to take action with but who should be aware of the changes.

The BCC (blind carbon copy) field is where you add recipients whose identities must remain hidden. The other email recipients cannot see the people who are added to the BCC.

Different recipient in To, CC, and BCC tag

6. Read the copy twice before sending

It is one of the most overlooked email etiquette rules. Sending email copies with grammar or spelling errors can hurt your reputation.

Email typo errors

Read your email copy and subject line twice before clicking the 'Send' button.

✔️ Check for grammar, typos, context errors, and formatting errors.

✔️ Try rephrasing your copy so it's more concise.

6. Be mindful of 'Reply all'

We are all aware of how many emails we receive each day. Using the 'Reply all' only when essential can help avoid sending unnecessary emails to people. Use 'Reply all' only when all people should be aware of the message.

7. Don't share controversial topics

One of the most important business email etiquette is never to share problematic and awkward information. If you get an email with offensive language (racist, sexist, etc.), don't forward it to others because doing so could harm your reputation.

8. Don't email confidential or private information

Your email remains on the server even after you have deleted it from your account. So, discussing sensitive material in person or over the phone is preferable rather than by email.

9. Email signature etiquette

An email signature is the most overlooked part of an email. Adding a professional email signature can help your audience know about you and your business. It is a professional email etiquette in business communication.

Email signature example: Name, headshot, designation, company's name and contact details.

Do's Don'ts
✔️ Add full name and contact details. ❌ Add no more than 4 to 5 lines
✔️ Insert photo, company website, and address. [Optional] ❌ Adding image-only signatures
✔️ Add social media links. [Optional] ❌ Non-responsive signatures

10. Avoid excessive or unfamiliar email abbreviations

Refrain from using abbreviations in business emails, which is considered poor email etiquette. Working professionals don't have much time to read and respond to emails. So, write direct words instead of using abbreviations that you only know.

✔️ Spell out words instead of using abbreviations whenever possible.

✔️ Limit acronyms and initialisms to those commonly understood within your industry or organization.

✔️ If you must use abbreviations, provide a brief explanation or definition to ensure clarity.

✔️ Consider the recipient's familiarity with the abbreviations you use. If in doubt, err on the side of spelling out the word.

✔️ Avoid using excessive abbreviations that might confuse or alienate the reader.

11. Always introduce first

Your recipient will not know you unless you introduce yourself. Mention who you are, what you do, and why you are reaching out.

✔️ Make your intro short.

✔️ Mention about your company.

✔️ State your motive.

Introduction email

Adding a complete URL to the email content will look messy and affect readability. Instead, shorten your URLs or use hyperlinks to make your emails look clean and easy to read.

Email with hyperlinked text

13. Check your attachments

Missing email attachments and inserting large files affect email etiquette and harm user experience.

✔️ Check your emails for file attachments before sending them.

✔️ Upload large files to the cloud and insert the URL of the files.

14. Consider Accessibility

Accessibility is crucial to ensure email etiquette. Make sure your email format is accessible to all users and email clients.

✔️ Use standard fonts and proper sizing.

✔️ Choose black color over others.

✔️ Don't overuse bold and italic properties.

Wrapping up

Many thanks for sticking with us. I believe you now better understand professional email etiquette and how to write business emails without any errors. Ensure you follow all the rules in this article to ensure proper communication and build better relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions on Email Etiquette

Poor email etiquette includes writing long, rambling messages, using excessive jargon or acronyms, using an unprofessional tone, or neglecting to proofread for errors. It's also impolite to forward emails without permission or to use a high-priority flag unnecessarily.

It is important to respond to emails promptly, ideally within 24 hours. If you need more time to provide a thoughtful response, it's courteous to acknowledge the email and let the sender know when they can expect a detailed reply.

The 12-second rule suggests that you should aim to make the main point or purpose of your email clear within the first 12 seconds of reading. Busy recipients often skim emails, so it's important to grab their attention quickly and convey the key information upfront.

The most important thing is to clearly communicate your purpose or message. Keep your emails concise and focused, use proper grammar and spelling, and ensure that your tone is professional and respectful. Providing a clear subject line and using paragraphs and bullet points when necessary also enhance readability.

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