Emails are an indispensable part of our daily lives. We wake up and check our emails and go to bed after responding to emails. Since it has become a basic necessity, it’s important to know some basic email etiquettes to write a good email. A well-written email can be the difference between a thriving working association or potential confusion, disrespect, or dispute – all of which can be amplified when people are working remotely.
Unfortunately, they don’t teach us how to write a proper email in schools. So we wrote this article to tell you what etiquettes you should follow to write a proper email.
Email etiquette is the code of behavior for communicating with emails. It is a guide on writing or answering emails, and it varies depending on whom you are sending it to. The etiquette differs for professional and personal emails.
When communicating with someone, our expressions and what we say matters as much as how we say it. In emails, we remove the voice and expression, so we have to convey it properly through the written content.
This is why etiquette for writing emails is so important because it helps you to convey your message clearly, and it also helps achieve the following:
Professionalism: Using proper email language, you and your organization will convey a professional image.
Efficiency: It helps you improve your communication skills. Emails which get to the point are much more effective than badly conveyed emails.
Clarity of expression: Use appropriate tone to avoid being misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Protection from liability: Awareness of email stakes will protect you and your organization from costly lawsuits.
The proper email communication can differ depending on the purpose of the email, who the recipient is, what industry you work in, etc. Nevertheless, here are some basic etiquettes that you need to know to write a decent email for any purpose.
Your email id should be your first name or a combination of your first and last name. It is acceptable to use one or two numbers along with your name but avoid any weird names or adjectives in your email id.
'To' is the place where you have to include the people who need to take any required 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.
CC (carbon copy) is where you can include people who you don't want to take any action but be aware of the changes that have happened. For example, you can add your team members to the email you have sent to your assistant asking for your schedule change. These people are not going to be changing your schedule, but they are informed of the changes in your schedule.
BCC (blind carbon copy) is where you can add people whose identity has to be kept a secret. The other email recipients can't see the people who are added to the BCC. For example, the email id of the CEO or boss of the company has to be protected so put them in bcc appropriately while sending an email.
The subject line should be a summary of the email and give the recipients an idea of what the email is about.
If you are sending an email where you want the recipient to respond to them, mention in the subject line how you want them to respond. For example, subject line: [Elon to approve] Final review. This tells that Elon has to take action for the email sent.
Also, if it requires an immediate response or action, then mention it in the subject line. For example, subject line: [Urgent] Update the client meeting details. This tells the recipients what to do first when responding to their emails.
When emailing for professional purposes, using greetings like "Dear (name)”, is a safe place to start. If you are writing business correspondence emails, then you must use "to whom it may concern”. Don't use nicknames in the salutation of a formal email.
You can use salutations like ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ if you are writing emails to friends and family. It can also be used when writing emails to colleagues if it's a more casual work environment.
When writing the copy of your email, it's best to start with the main point first and then explain the context of why you are sending the email.
Avoid writing long emails with too many paragraphs. You can use bullets to keep it concise and clear. Add hyperlinks when possible to save the readers time searching for the topic. Try to stick to one topic and one request in an email. If it’s more than one, do it over a phone call or a meeting. Lastly, don't use emojis in your emails unless you know it’s acceptable in your work environment.
When writing a professional email, make sure you maintain a polite and friendly tone. Also, provide information that's factual rather than emotional.
You should never use all caps when writing an email as it is perceived as yelling and comes across as aggressive behavior.
Never discuss any private or confidential matters in a work email. Because your email remains on the server even after you have deleted it from your account. So it's always best to talk about confidential information in meetings or phone calls than emails.
When you have to reply to an email, make sure that you re-read the email and review it for any errors before you send it. Check for readability, format issues, and correct grammar usage, as an error in any of these can affect how the recipient perceives your email. Also, before you hit reply, make sure you are not hitting the reply all button, leading to a load of confusion and complications as it becomes annoying if it’s not relevant to them.
When you are responding to someone’s email regarding a particular topic, stick to the same thread when you reply, this helps make it easier to track emails related to that topic.
If you receive an email containing offensive comments (racist, sexist, etc.), then refrain from sharing such emails to other people as it can be damaging to your reputation amongst people.
In the end, there are many ways you can write an email, and the proper etiquette differs based on the context. While a bad email copy will not necessarily be harmful to your reputation, but an improper salutation, greeting, etc., is not easily forgotten. So, follow these etiquette and you'd have an easy time writing proper emails for any purpose.