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Email Etiquette

The Business Etiquette of Using Email


With almost 300 billion emails sent every day, business email etiquette must be adhered to in order to promote the efficient use of this technology in the business environment. Unfortunately, many people have abused this technology and missed the true benefit that it can bring to your business. The following business email etiquette rules can help your employees get back on track using your company's email system properly.

Send Only Clear and Concise Emails

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The first rule of good email etiquette is to avoid long winded emails that contain extraneous information and irrelevant facts. Stick to the subject being communicated and use as few words as possible. If you need a decision, ask for it. If you need information, ask for it. If you need action, ask for it. Don't make your reader wonder why you are sending this email.

Always Use a Meaningful Subject Line

Never leave the subject line of an email blank. A blank subject line may get your email flagged as spam and it will never reach your intended recipients. Always use a subject line that adequately reflects the contents of your email. This will help your recipients sort through their emails more efficiently and will precipitate a response to your email quicker.

Don't Send Extravagantly Formatted Emails

Keep all emails professional looking. Don’t use multicolored fonts and pictures for backgrounds. If you have an email stationary that your company dictates that you use in order to project a consistent look and feel, by all means use what marketing has provided to you. The company logo and signature line will help you project a professional image in your emails.

Respond Timely to Emails Received

Don't make the people that send you email wait an excessive amount of time for a reply to their email. Respond promptly with a clear and concise reply.  If you need more time to research an answer or gather more information, tell your email sender when they can expect a reply.  This rule is more of a common courtesy than a rule of email etiquette.

Use Out-of-Office Email Tools

If you are going to be away from the office and you will not be able to read your e-mail in a timely manner, use the email system's out-of-office tool to automatically respond to incoming email. This way the sender will not expect a timely reply. Make sure your automated reply tells the sender when they can expect a reply.

Not Every Email is "High Importance"

Most email systems allow you to flag an email as "High Importance" or "Rush". Do not make this your standard email flag that all your emails receive. Eventually your recipients will ignore the "importance" flag and when you have a really important email it will not get the attention that it deserves.

Reply Conservatively

Don't instinctively click the "Reply All" button for every email that you reply to. Consider the subject at hand and decide who needs to read your reply. Always responding to everyone will quickly earn you a reputation as a "business spammer" and people will not read any of your emails.

Keep Business and Personal Emails Separate

Do not use your business email for personal correspondence. Even if you own your own business, it is a good idea to have two separate email accounts. This will allow you to prioritize your emails so that business always comes first.

Choose Professional Email Account Names

When creating an email account name always use your own name as part of the email address. For example: james.bucki@aboutguide.com, or jbucki@aboutguide.com. Avoid nicknames, handles and monikers. For example, do not use soccer.mom@aboutguide.com or baseball.nut@aboutguide.com.

Less Email Means More Action

Don't use email as your default communication tool. Remember that not all messages are appropriate for email. Sometimes a short telephone call or a brief office visit is more appropriate and brings back the element of human relations into an environment that is sometimes inundated with impersonal technology.
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