Top Tips on How to Write a Professional Email

Hints and Advice on Email Etiquette in the Workplace

Email is fast becoming the primary means of communication; not just between individuals on a social level, but within businesses. A May 2009 report by The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, estimated that there were 1.4 billion email users in 2009, and that some 247 billion emails were sent each day in 2009.

Statistics on Email Usage

To gain an appreciation of just how important a medium of communication email is, it is beneficial to know some telling statistics (sourced from Email Marketing Reports):

  • If email was a country, it would – at 1.4 billion users – be the largest in the world.
  • One email is sent every 0.00000035 seconds.
  • By the time this sentence has been read, 20 million emails would have been sent around the world.
  • Every second, the world’s email users produce messages equivalent in size to over 16,000 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

An Introduction to Email Etiquette

Within business especially, whether sending an internal or external email, it is important that the message is constructed in a professional manner, to give the correct impression on those receiving it. Poorly worded or constructed emails can render an incorrect message, or give out the wrong tone – purely because due to its very nature, email does not convey facial signals, and therefore messages written with one intent can often be read as the opposite. Emails are also retained much longer than paper documents, so any negative impression given can be lasting and irreparable.

Good Email Etiquette

  • Do always read, then re-read an email before sending it, to check spelling, grammar and tone.
  • Do ensure that the content of the email is relevant to those to whom it is being sent.
  • Do have a relevant subject heading, to clearly indicate at a glance the important attributes of the email and its contents. However, avoid a lengthy subject heading.
  • Do ensure that a signature is appended to the email, so that those reading it can contact the sender if required.
  • Do, if an email is being forwarded, inform the correspondent that this is being carried out.
  • Do use emphasis in an email where appropriate, but refrain from over-emphasising. This will result in the email looking cluttered.
  • Do be polite in all emails.
  • Do scan any attachments for viruses before sending the email.
  • Do be concise, and avoid lengthy ramblings.

Bad Email Etiquette

  • Do not reply to a message when angry or frustrated, as this may be regrettable later.
  • Do not type in capitals; this is considered to be shouting.
  • Do not copy the entire business into an email if it is not specifically relevant to them all.
  • Do not send unsuitable attachments, as this could provoke complaints and disciplinary action.
  • Do not make personal remarks about the recipient or anyone else. This is extremely unprofessional.
  • Do not use emoticons, such as smiley faces.
  • Do not use email to discuss confidential information; it is not as secure as commonly perceived.

Email can be a valuable tool in business, if it is used correctly. Courtesy, respect and accuracy should be some of the common themes that run throughout every email sent, to avoid negative repercussions in the future.

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