E-mail is now as common in most workplaces as the telephone call. With the wide use of Internet applications such as Facebook and instant messaging, online correspondence is often seen as more casual, but there is proper e-etiquette that can’t be forgotten when conducting business.
The following 10 tips are useful when communicating about official business via e-mail.
- Treat your e-mail as though you are writing it on letterhead (e.g. address Anne Smith formally as Ms. Smith rather than as Anne) when your relationship with a business contact is still new. Once your relationship begins to feel more relaxed, so can the tone of your e-mails.
- Your subject line should accurately state what your e-mail is about. This will help your contact prioritize their e-mails. Note: Start a new e-mail thread with a new subject line if the subject of your e-mail is going to take a turn from the previous e-mail. Don’t simply hit “reply” if the e-mail isn’t a response about the previous content.
- Don’t use abbreviations. Abbreviations such as “lol,” “idk,” “imo” and “brb” are best left outside of the workplace.
- Avoid writing in all capital letters. SENTENCES WRITTEN LIKE THIS WILL BE READ AS THOUGH YOU ARE SCREAMING.
- Avoid using sarcasm or making jokes. Sarcasm and comical tones don’t always come across as such in e-mail and might be taken offensively.
- Don’t use emoticons (e.g. or ). Emoticons are very informal.
- The “Reply to All” option should only be used when you are sending a response that must reach each person who received the original message. You don’t want to clog your contacts’ e-mail inboxes with messages that don’t concern them.
- Generally speaking, e-mails should be brief. In the busy workplace, longer e-mails should be replaced with telephone calls or meetings.
- Attach any promised attachments. It’s a waste of your and your contact’s time to deal with two e-mails just because you’ve forgotten to include an attachment, even more so if you don’t realize that you’ve forgotten until much later.
- Finally — Never send an e-mail that you haven’t proofread.