Email Etiquette


Golden Rules of Email Etiquette
Golden Rules of Email Etiquette

Whilst the computer age was hailed as a means of making life easier it has mainly taken up more of our time both at work and at home.  It has also opened up a whole new range of etiquette issues to be dealt with daily.


Always use the subject line

Due to the huge amount of mail received by many people daily, the subject line is often the decider used on whether to open a letter or not.  It also helps to sort emails into their folders.  I have been known to treat an email as suspicious if it has no subject and will often delete it.

Break the chain

What more can I say?  Living in a time where we should fill our thoughts with positive affirmations the last thing I need is to be threatened with a lack of good fortune because I did not forward some sappy email to other people less interested than I in the next nanosecond.

Use the Bcc function

You can land yourself in a lot of hot water by exposing other people’s email addresses.  When sending out an email to a group of people send the mass of addresses from the Blind carbon copy (“Bcc”) line and one to yourself in the “To” line.  It will save any embarrassment.

Create a signature for your emails

Often I will pick up the phone to respond to an email if it is starting to get tricky.  It can become a hassle if I then have to look up the contacts details.  At the bottom of each email, you should have your name, company, phone numbers and email details.  It is also an excellent place to promote your business either through a by-line or a link to your website.

Never assume the worst

If you do not hear from someone relating to an email never assume they are simply not responding.  In the past 6-months I have had a dreaded intermittent bug that has attacked some emails but not others.  In this instance, I was not receiving emails and those sending them were never made aware of the problem at their end.  If it is important follow it up with a call.

Avoid SMS Spam

Whenever you send an SMS text message to someone ensure you include your details.  For about 6 months I was receiving text messages relating to a new night club.  That would have been okay if 1) I had wanted to go; 2) they let me know where it was if I wanted to go and 3) if I even knew who they were.

Mind your spam

Luckily we have rules now to protect us from spam mail  and so to save yourself from breaching any laws it is safest to invite people to receive your company newsletter.  I do this by asking directly or sending out a copy to people I have met and asking them to let me know if they would like to subscribe.

Write like an adult not a phone message

SMS is the modern shorthand.  I find it very disconcerting when I receive emails written in SMS text.  You may be sending it from a phone but I am not receiving it that way and what do I say all along – Image Matters.  The worst faux pas a person can make is writing a letter in SMS shorthand. My mother received such a letter from a friend’s adult daughter and I had to translate it for her.

Check your spelling

Use spell-check every letter you send out.  It takes only a second and will always make you look educated. It helps to have your system set to automatically spell check every email you send.

Write what you would say

Only send in an email what you would say to someone’s face.  Remember it is not like a letter that you can rip up.  If you hit send before delete there is no going back.

Don’t yell

Just because you are no longer in your grade 5 English class there is no reason to forget your grammar. Emails written entirely using upper case or capitals for everything is the same as yelling at a person.

Respect everyone’s space

It is okay to send a straight reply to a person but if this banter goes on you should delete unnecessary text on the subsequent emails.  Use and retain only what is relevant to that response or event completely delete all historical notes as you should have them on file in the earlier emails.

Some of the main points to consider are

  1. Always put relevant information in the subject line
  2. Never use all CAPS as that is the same as shouting
  3. Only ever use the reply all function if the information is important to everyone.
  4. When replying to an e-mail that has become a chain of successive  e-mails remove all of the previous e-mail us except the most recent.
  5. Be aware of your company policy as many companies do not like the forwarding or receiving of anything of a salacious (rude and improper) manner.

Feel free to share this article. Be sure though to acknowledge the author Clare Maxfield

If you feel that you would like this material and more for your graduates, staff or anyone else who needs  a hand getting into the corporate market please see my full 6 and 12-month graduate training programs in Appearance, Behaviour and Communication for both men and women.