Top 10 Email Etiquette Tips you must remember

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The days of bird courier are gone and the postal mails are also diminishing. This is the electronic era and it is your responsibility to know and carefully follow the basic etiquette’s while sending an e-mail. Most companies, employees and even common people do not realize the impact an e-mail can create on the receiver’s end.

The scenario is that, even couples break up via e-mail! I recently heard a guy say,

”Yesterday I was about to kiss my girlfriend and she asked ‘you didn’t check your e-mail, did you?’

So, there you see how an e-mail can actually impact your personal life.

Now, what about a company or an organization? Most of the job applications and recruitment processes are done via e-mail. When you are communicating with your boss, it is mostly via an e-mail, as most of us can not meet them in person. In such a case, it is more important that you please your boss and not irritate him through your e-mail because e-mails do not have voice. It is read by your boss in his own tone and not in yours. Your expressions are not seen and your motivations are not expressed through your eyes or mouth but learnt through the words that you type.

In any workplace or an organization the following are the most expected.

  • Professionalism
  • Efficiency
  • Protection from liability

A carefully worded e-mail can very well protect a company from getting sued for an unexpected liability. It could also save you from getting fired for sending an inappropriate e-mail to your higher authorities and clients.

Here are the 10 email etiquette’s that you have to follow while sending an e-mail to anybody, anywhere at anytime.

 10. Keep It Short and Sweet

10. Keep It Short and Sweet

You are typing an e-mail, not a novel. It is also not the place to show your power over vocabulary. Nobody has time in this world to read a long e-mail. Remember, reading an e-mail on a computer screen is more difficult when compared to reading a printed or a handwritten letter. A long e-mail would obviously irritate the receiver and also make it tedious to read them. Keep it short and crisp. You need not use bombastic words either. Keep it simple! It prevents unnecessary misunderstandings and misconceptions.

 9. The 3 ‘S’

 9. The 3 ‘S’

The three mandatory things to be seen in your e-mail are

  • Subject
  • Salutation
  • Signature

An appropriate subject is very essential. A receiver should be able to get an idea about the content of the e-mail just by looking at the subject. It should be precise and clear. It should not confuse or mislead the receiver. The subject would indirectly signify its priority and importance. Do not add flowery language. Just a simple and plain subject would do.

Next is the salutation. This should be personal and formal. It could be Dear, Sir, or Hello, but it should be apt and respectful. If your salutation is not appropriate, it would obviously annoy the receiver and might even ignore the e-mail. So choose the right salutation.

The last but not the least is the signature. Every e-mail should be personally signed along with your designation and contact details. A properly signed e-mail indicates the sincerity of the sender and his due respect towards the receiver. So, always sign your e-mail with necessary details.

8. Get your Fundamentals Right

8. Get your Fundamentals Right

The basic necessities of any written communication are,

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar

The above three mentioned are the most essential and inevitable features required in your e-mail. A grammar error could lead to a lot of misunderstanding and confusion. Make sure you get the tense right and use active and passive forms wherever required to avoid confusion. Sometimes you could also make a typographical error!

Example: you could miss a letter in the word “latter” and type “later”, which is obviously different or you could make a spelling mistake by typing “carrier” instead of “career”.

So, be clear with the basics of the language you communicate in.

Re-read the e-mail and check for any kind of error and correct them before you send it.

7. Fonts and Layout          

7. Fonts and Layout

When you type an e-mail, check the font size and the type of font used. Highlight the important statements. Use bold and italics when you want to emphasize a particular statement.

Do not type everything in capitals. When you type an entire sentence in capitals, it would look like you are SHOUTING at the receiver. So avoid using capital letters for all the words in a sentence unnecessarily.

Also, make sure you follow proper layout. Use bullets and numbering wherever necessary and break your message into appropriate number of paragraphs. If it is really a long mail and is inevitable, try to summarize it in short, at the end of the mail so that the reader would get a clear picture about it.

6. Acronyms and Emoticons

6. Acronyms and Emoticons

Acronyms like BTW (by the way) and ASAP (as soon as possible) etc., may not be known to everyone. They are not professional or formal way of communication. Do not use them in any official or important e-mails. People tend to use emoticons or smiley like :-) in their e-mails to express their emotions and to convey the tone of their message. Avoid such usages as well. They are not professional either. The emotions and expressions should be conveyed through words and not through emoticons.

5. Add Disclaimers

5. Add Disclaimers

Add disclaimer statements to your mails. This will prevent a lot of unnecessary problems. Say, for example, if a virus is sent by mistake through an e-mail by an employee of an organization and if it infects the receiver’s system, he could file a case and sue the company for damages. Sometimes if a confidential message is shared or forwarded between unauthorized people, the company can be sued by the affected people.

This could be avoided easily through a disclaimer statement that says

“This e-mail may contain confidential message confined to legal privilege. Access to this e-mail by anyone other than those intended is unauthorized. The unintended recipient may not copy, duplicate or distribute the contents of this e-mail.”

With such a statement, the company can save itself from getting sued for duplication and distribution of the confidential e-mail.

4. E-mail Threads

4. E-mail Threads

Always follow the e-mail thread. Do not delete the previous conversation or start a new e-mail when you are about to reply a received e-mail. If you start a new one, the content may not be understood clearly or the receiver might find it irrelevant as he might have lost track of the previous conversation. The person at the other end may not even remember what your previous conversation was all about! So, do not break the thread and reply accordingly.

3. Do’s

3. Do’s

There are some of the Do’s when it comes to e-mailing like,

  • Answer all queries.
  • Pre-empt future queries and answer them.

When you receive an e-mail full of queries and doubts, clarify all of them one by one. Most people have the habit of missing out one or two. Do not do that blunder. Answer all of them. Else, it would look like you didn’t pay attention to the sender’s mail or may project you as a very careless person.

Also, clarify and answer other possible questions or doubts that the receiver might ask in future so that there won’t be any confusion or further queries regarding the same. This would make the communication more effective.

2. Don’ts

2. Don’ts

There are some of the Don’ts as well which you should never do.

  • Spam or Junk e-mails
  • Unnecessary attachments
  • Reply to all

Never send junk e-mails or add any unnecessary attachments to your e-mails. It only annoys the receiver and creates a very bad impression. While replying, include those in the Cc as well. Do not just reply to the sender unless it is highly confidential. Also, never use reply to all unless it is mandatory. Say, for example, if am sending an invitation to 10 people, and every receiver hits the ‘reply to all’ then each would receive 10 copies of the same. Is that necessary? No. So do not use it deliberately.

1.  To, Cc, Bcc

1.  To, Cc, Bcc

While sending an e-mail, type the address of the direct recipients in the ‘To’ field and those who need not be the direct recipient of the e-mail, but have to be publicly informed about the message, must be added in the ‘Cc’ (Carbon copy) field. When you add recipients’ addresses in the ‘Cc’ field , the recipients in the ‘To’ field would also know that the mail is sent to them. Do not add everyone in the ‘To’ field unnecessarily.

Use Bcc (Blind carbon copy), when you wish to secretly inform a list of recipients about the e-mail. Sometimes, the recipients may not like their e-mail addresses being shared publicly in the ‘To’ or ‘Cc’ field. In such a situation, include the recipients’ addresses in the ‘Bcc’ field. But the usage of Bcc is usually discouraged as the rest of the recipients of the e-mail would not know about the blind copy receivers.

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  • Ganesh Ram

    yup ! that sums it all up ! nicely written :)