You don’t have to be an expert writer to compose an email. However, there are many things to consider when writing emails, especially for business communications. Here are several email etiquette rules to keep in mind for your professional messages.
It may seem simple to fill out the fields in your email, but these tips can save you some embarrassment and help your recipients at the same time.
Re-verify your recipient addresses
If you’ve ever sent an email to the wrong person because you relied on your email app’s “smart” suggestions, then you know how embarrassing that can be.
It only takes a minute to double check the recipient’s name and email address. If you have an app that converts the email address to the recipient’s name for display purposes, just click that arrow or hover over the name for a quick review.
Enter a concise subject line
The subject line that you include with your email should be concise and meaningful. This allows your recipient to see exactly what the email is about at a glance. They can even read your emails in order of content importance, which is where the subject line comes in.
Try to keep the subject line short but meaningful. Make it a concise summary of what your message includes.
Includes CC and BCC when warranted
Not all recipients of your message may be on the To line. You can use the CC field to copy others who need the email as a reference or the BCC field to copy them but keep their email addresses private.
RELATED: What do CC and BCC mean in emails?
Reserve the To field for those to whom you are addressing the message and any action you require from them. For others who simply need to be aware of the message, whether you’re hiding their email addresses or not, use the CC and BCC lines instead.
The body of the message
Obviously, the body of the email is where you include your message. But there are a few tips to remember that can make or break that message.
add a greeting
Especially crucial when composing a business email is adding a salutation. Begin your message appropriately with “Dear,” “Hello,” or something similar, followed by the recipient’s name.
There’s nothing that says “I’m in too much of a hurry to care” than an email without a greeting.
Use an easy-to-read font
While it’s tempting to change the font of your message to something different or unique, it’s not always the best option for the person reading the email.
RELATED: Stop changing your email fonts
Use a default font that is easy to read, such as Arial or Times New Roman. These classic fonts are not only standard for most email clients, but they are also easier to read than a script and more professional than being too casual.
Includes a signature
Just like removing a greeting, not signing your email can seem unprofessional. And with that closing, you should include the basic details that your recipient would need.
Email signatures vary, but can include your full name, company, job title, phone number, website, and social media links. Whether you have all those details in your signature or just your name, be sure to add it to the end of your message.
Tone and Professionalism
Along with the basics of filling out email fields and composing the body of your message, consider your words. Do you want to use capital letters to emphasize a point? Should you include a bit of sarcastic humor? Let’s take a deeper dive.
Be careful with capitalization and formatting
It can be tempting to use all caps, bold text, or underlining to emphasize words. But too many of these in one message defeats the purpose and can deliver an aggressive message.
Try to avoid all capital letters. You don’t want your recipient to feel like you’re yelling at them. And use font formatting like bold, italic, and underline sparingly and only when necessary.
Keep humor and emojis to a minimum
While most people enjoy a little humor from time to time, it doesn’t always have a place in an email. The reason is that the recipient cannot see your body language or hear your laugh. In written communications, humor can seem inappropriate or even offensive at times, even when you don’t mean it that way.
RELATED: How to insert emoji in Outlook emails
In addition to eliminating humor, try not to overdo emojis in your email. While a smiley or thumbs up can be beneficial in a chat or text message, it can send off an unprofessional tone in business emails.
Add required attachments
We’ve all done it at least once. We tell the recipient that we are sending a file and then forget to attach it. Take a moment before you hit Submit to make sure you’ve included all the necessary attachments.
Also, some email services like Gmail and Microsoft Outlook offer features to remind you of forgotten attachments. Take advantage of these helpful tools so you don’t have to follow up your email with another message containing the file and an apology.
Some email etiquette isn’t set in stone, but can simply be polite, considerate, and helpful.
Consider concise messages for mobile devices
With more and more emails being viewed on mobile devices, keep this in mind when composing yours. Eliminate unnecessary words and get straight to the point. There’s nothing worse than opening a text-filled email on your mobile phone that requires continuous scrolling.
Schedule shipping during business hours
If you use the handy email scheduling feature offered by many email clients, be aware of when to schedule that delivery. Sending an email right at the end of the workday or even at midnight just isn’t nice.
RELATED: How to schedule an email in Outlook
Try to schedule emails for a weekday and during business hours, unless you have a compelling reason not to.
shorten long urls
One final piece of advice to be courteous is regarding the links you include in your emails. Similar to writing shorter messages for mobile viewers, you can do the same by including links. Consider using a URL shortener like Bitly or linking to text.
Instead of a link taking up too much space in your message, you can reduce its size and still send the link to your recipient.
Hopefully, some of these email etiquette rules are the ones you plan to use for your own business messages in the future. And if you send a message you’d like to retrieve, check out how to retrieve an email in Outlook or how to unsend a message in Gmail.