Have you ever had to send an email to a new client regarding an important issue? Or to a coworker you didn’t know very well? Or maybe you need to email to your boss, and you’re not quite sure how to word it. Whatever the situation, it is important that you conduct yourself with the utmost etiquette and professionalism in any business email. This can be tricky sometimes, but if you follow the tips below, you’ll see it’s easier to follow email etiquette than you may have imagined.
Start with a Descriptive Subject
No one likes to receive an email with a vague subject. Email recipients want to know exactly what an email is going to be about. So be descriptive. Subjects like “A Reminder about the Company Party on April 1st” or “Important: Update to the Employee Handbook” are much more informative and will catch a recipient’s attention better.
Address the Recipient
Business emails should always start with a salutation. If your email has just one recipient and you do not know them well (let’s say someone in another department), it is usually best to say, “Dear Mr./Ms. [Name].” This shows respect to the recipient by way of a formal greeting.
With continued correspondence, use the last name of the recipient until it feels appropriate to be more casual. Unsure how you should continue to address them? Take clues from how they sign off. If they use an informal valediction, you can probably address them more informally.
If you do know the recipient well and don’t feel you need to address them formally, you can simply say: “Dear [First Name].”
When emailing multiple coworkers, put the email addresses of the primary recipients in the “To” line, and use the CC (Carbon Copy) field to insert the addresses of anyone else who needs to receive the email. If you don’t want everyone to see the email addresses of the other recipients, use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy).
To address multiple recipients, say something like “Dear [Primary Recipient] and Team” or even “Greetings, everyone.”
Have you ever heard the expression “Less is more?” Well in the case of professional email, that is entirely true. Your coworkers—and especially your employer—are busy, so get your point across in as few words as possible.
Don’t write lengthy paragraphs unless absolutely necessary. And don’t spend several sentences elaborating your feelings before you get to the main point. Tell the recipient exactly what you need to tell them, only adding more detail as necessary for clarity.
If you are afraid you haven’t provided enough information but you don’t want to sound verbose, you can insert a statement at the end of your email that essentially says, “Feel free to contact me at your leisure if you have any questions/comments/concerns.”
Choose Your Words Carefully
When writing a professional email, one of the most important things to keep in mind is word choice. It can be difficult to know how to phrase your emails, especially if you have never interacted with one or more of the recipients. The best thing you can do is to write as professionally as possible while still ensuring that your message can be clearly understood.
One tip to help with word choice: write as though you were addressing the leader of your country or a teacher, not like you were speaking to your best friend. In other words, avoid slang and colloquialisms at all costs, and speak plainly. Avoid vulgarity, crude humor, and profanity. These are never acceptable for the workplace. And do your best to show the recipient that you actually care about what you are writing. It’s certainly okay to show passion for the subject you are writing about as long as it is done tactfully.
Also remember that punctuation conveys tone. All caps, for example, looks like shouting, so it’s best avoided. Use exclamation points sparingly and never use more than one exclamation point at the end of a sentence. This is very casual and will look over-the-top in a business email. Colored text and fancy fonts are also rarely appropriate for business emails.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Nothing is worse than sending an email that is supposed to be professional, only for the recipient to discover that it is full of spelling and grammar errors. Once you compose the entire email, go back through and re-read it at least three times. Doing so will save you from embarrassment and will ultimately show the recipient that you have high regard for detail, which is something to be admired in the workplace.
End with a Professional Signature or Closing Line
When concluding your email, your signature or closing line should be sweet and to the point. You can have something as simple as “Sincerely [your name],” or you can just sign your name.
If you want to include your name, title, and contact information, each piece of information should be on a separate line. Your name goes on the first line, the name of the company on the second, your title on the third line, and your phone number on the fourth.
Sending a professional email can be challenging. Fortunately, if you adhere to the guidelines above and take the time to really think about what you are saying, this process should go quite smoothly.
In no time at all, professional, courteous email writing will become second-nature to you. You will be well equipped for any future professional correspondences that may come your way, and you may even be able to teach others the tricks of the trade.
This article was written by one of our writers. The author’s views are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of WritersDomain.