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Created on 22.07.2019

A guide to e-mail etiquette: how to get e-mails right

E-mails are the most common form of electronic communication in everyday business. This is what makes writing messages and sending e-mails in a professional way all the more important. Otherwise, you risk entire projects, or, even worse, careers being ruined in no time at all. After all, e-mails don’t always achieve their intended goal. Misunderstandings and even conflicts often arise that could have easily been prevented. Our guide to e-mail etiquette will give you nine tips on how to improve the way you communicate by e-mail within your company and with external partners.

Writing e-mails made easy

Tip 1: A clear subject

Any e-mail you write needs a clear subject. This is especially true for recipients you don’t know very well. If your e-mail does not have a clear subject, the recipient may just move it to the spam folder without reading it, or just delete it. This is why you should bear in mind this basic principle: the clearer the title, the better.

Tip 2: Keep it short and simple

The general rule for writing e-mails is this: keep it short and simple. Be sure to get to the point quickly for your reader, and, if possible, avoid writing long sentences and being overly wordy.

Tip 3: Use upper case and lower case

Compose your e-mail like a normal letter, using uppercase letters and lowercase letters. If you write individual words or even entire passages in capitals, your e-mail will almost certainly end up in the spam folder because this can identify a message as spam. The recipient may also find the message rude, making it harder for them to read it.

Tip 4: Criticism is best expressed over the phone

E-mails at work are essentially a good thing. If it is a really urgent, important or personal matter, you are better off picking up the phone or talking it through at work in person.

Tip 5: Avoid attaching huge documents

Avoid huge file attachments where possible. If these documents are absolutely necessary, your best bet is to let the person know before you send them over. After all, it would be annoying for the recipient to have your e-mail clog up their inbox, or you might even run the risk of the documents not coming through in the first place.

Tip 6: Use the correct titles

As with a letter, you risk losing your recipient’s interest in the very first line without even noticing if you address or greet them in the wrong way. For a lot of people, using their title is still very important. Also remember that, in addition to addressing the person in the appropriate way, you also need to close every business e-mail properly.

Tip 7: Check spelling and grammar

Avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes in written communication. Otherwise the recipient might think you don’t respect them, or that you aren’t taking their problem seriously enough. This is why you should always read through your e-mail before sending it so you can check for spelling/grammatical mistakes. If it’s a really important e-mail, you should also get a second person to read through your e-mail for you, such as a colleague.

Tip 8: Delete long e-mail threads

The “short and simple” maxim applies to forwarding e-mails when it comes to exchanging messages. To help you keep track when you have really long e-mail threads, be sure you only forward the relevant information and documents to your recipient.

Tip 9: Select recipients carefully

As the sender, you should think about who you want to receive the e-mail before sending it. To avoid an unnecessary flurry of e-mails, you should only CC people if the issue at hand is actually relevant to them and if they want to be updated about the situation. What’s more, when replying, make sure you reply to everyone who needs to be kept in the loop. You can then delete people from the list of recipients (with their consent) if the correspondence is no longer relevant to them.

Turn good e-mails into success

These key tips from our guide to e-mail etiquette will ensure you are well equipped to avoid blunders on the e-mail frontline. If you stick to these rules of etiquette, this will already help your e-mails look better and more professional.

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