Email Etiquette: Mind Your Manners

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However, email remains the most popular form of online communication, with nearly 300 billion emails sent daily in 2022. Whether you’re new to email or have used it for years, make sure you’re following the rules.

  • Review Your Message
  • Never Reply All
  • Write Good Subject Lines
  • Explain Why You Forward
  • Explain Why You CC?
  • Notify the sender of their message’s receipt
  • Avoid abbreviations
  • Sarcasm and Humor Caution
  • Pick a Good Ending

Review Your Message

Check your work after entering the recipients’ addresses, creating a subject line, writing your message, and attaching supporting documents:

Check the message. Is anything hazy? If so, what are they? Did you say all you wanted to?

Sources to check Would a source link help clarify your point? Is a link useful for your recipient?

  • Examine the recipients. Did you forget to send the message to someone important? Did you add an unintended recipient?
  • If you have more than one, send the message from the most appropriate one.
  • Prioritize the message. Is it necessary to emphasize the message?
  • Attach documents. Did you forget the affix?

Never Reply All

When to Reply All to Group Emails If you need to reply to everyone in the original email, use Reply All.

For example, person A emails you and person B to brainstorm ideas for your boss’ 10-year anniversary. Use Reply All to reply to both A and B.

Your response to a party invitation sent to you and 20 other friends is irrelevant to the other recipients, so use Reply to only respond to the original sender.

Write Good Subject Lines

A good email subject captures the essence of your message. Here are a few:

  • 3:00 Sales Meeting
  • Halloween Invite
  • Text Revisions
  • Top 20 Videos of the Week
  • New Member Information

Reserving an Appointment

  • Event Volunteers Needed

Make your subject lines more effective by including a call to action, such as:

  • Halloween Party RSVP by May 11
  • Website Text Revisions – Due Tuesday

Explain Why You Forward

Explain why you’re forwarding an email and how the new recipient will benefit from it. Say a client, Jay, sends you a question to which you have no answer. Send the message to Sara, noting, “Sara, Jay wants to know how to log into our portal from his phone. Details below. Help!”

Explain Why You CC?

If you cc someone on an email, tell the primary recipient why. Let’s say Jenna wants to join your book club and you’re informing her about it. This way, Ann can see what you’re sending Jenna and fill in any gaps you may have missed. Using this method, Ann understands why she’s receiving the message.

Notify the sender of their message’s receipt

Emails can get lost in the spam filter. Write a short note to let the sender know their email was received, especially important messages (with attachments or deadlines). “Got it, I’ll start tomorrow,” for example, if your boss assigns you a new project.

Avoid abbreviations

Use as few acronyms as possible, and only when you’re certain the recipient knows what they mean. Many acronyms are used in business email correspondence. Among them:

  • ASAP: As Soon as Posssible
  • BTW: By the Way
  • EOD: End of Day

EOM: End of Message (typically used in the subject line to indicate there is no email body to follow)

  • EOW: Week End
  • IMO: In My View

OOO: Out of Office

  • Y/N: Yes/No

Sarcasm and Humor Caution

Email lacks the context of facial expressions and voice tone, making it unsuitable for expressing sarcasm or humor, especially to strangers. Until you know a recipient better, keep your message simple and direct. Include a smiling or laughing emoticon to show you’re joking.

Pick a Good Ending

It’s not always easy to end an email. Based on the situation, here are some ideas:

Many thanks if you ask for a favor.

  • Hugs or Love: For a friend or family member.
  • Cheers or Best: If the receiver is a stranger.
  • Sincerely:
  • Best Regards or Kind Regards: If you want to maintain a formal business tone.

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