Posted by: Jack Henry | September 20, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Email Etiquette

We cover the topic of email etiquette periodically as a reminder to all our readers. It’s an important topic. So, when I read this article from Business Insider, that reviews a book by Barbara Pachter called The Essentials of Business Etiquette, I knew I needed to share the information with you.

One of the biggest pet peeves held by professional employees is the overuse or misuse of email messages. The article I read states that U.S. employees “…spend about a quarter of the workweek combing through hundreds of emails.” I know that’s true for me. I dread coming back to work after just a couple of days off. The article also says, and I’m sure you agree, that “plenty of professionals still don’t know how to use email properly.” And here’s something the article brings up that is worth thinking about: “Because of the sheer volume of messages we’re reading and writing, we may be more prone to making embarrassing errors, and those mistakes can have serious consequences.”

So, to help you avoid “embarrassing errors and mistakes that have serious consequences,” I’m listing the 15 email etiquette rules every professional should know along with a brief explanation from the article. I know I’ve broken a couple of these rules, but I’ve been lucky not to make too big a faux pas. I’ve known others who weren’t so lucky.

Here’s hoping we all make fewer mistakes and that we receive fewer unnecessary emails in our inbox in the future (a girl can hope!).

1. Include a clear, direct subject line.

Ex: “Meeting date changed” or “Quick question about your presentation”

2. Use a professional email address.

Your email address (even your personal one) should convey your name and be appropriate for the workplace.

3. Think twice before hitting “reply all.”

None of us wants to receive a bunch of “reply all” emails that don’t pertain to us. Often, if you need to reply at all, it is just to one person.

4. Include a signature block.

Your signature should include your name, title, company name, and contact information.

5. Use professional salutations.

Hello and hi are most common, but Dear John and other more formal salutations are always safe.

6. Use exclamation points sparingly.

You only need one exclamation point. More than one can appear unprofessional.

7. Be cautious with humor.

Because humor can be misinterpreted, only use it if you know the recipient well.

8. Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.

If you communicate with people from different cultures, be conscientious of the differences.

9. Reply to your emails — even if the email wasn’t intended for you.

Out of politeness, you should try to reply to every email that is sent to you by a trusted source, even if you believe the email was sent to you by mistake (just to let the writer know it didn’t go to the intended party). To avoid possible phishing attempts, do not click any links that you are not expecting to receive.

10. Proofread every message.

Don’t rely on spelling and grammar checkers. Read your email, preferably out loud, before you click send.

11. Add the email address last.

Adding the email address last keeps you from accidentally sending an email before you are ready.

12. Double-check that you’ve selected the correct recipient.

This final check keeps you from sending a message to the wrong person.

13. Keep your fonts classic.

Generally, you should stick with 10- to 12-point type and an easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman.

14. Keep tabs on your tone.

Make sure that by trying to be straightforward you don’t come off as angry or curt. Reading your message out loud helps. Remembering to say “please” and “thank you” also helps.

15. Nothing is confidential — so write accordingly.

Emails are often forwarded, so to be safe, assume that others will see what you write.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.


  1. […] and Kara wrote previously about email etiquette and email subject lines, but they didn’t address this particular point. I wasn’t able to find […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: