You know you’re not supposed to walk into work wearing your slippers or be caught sleeping while on the job. But when it comes to emails, the lines can get a little blurry. What is considered too much, too little, too friendly, too impersonal? These 10 rules of email etiquette will set you straight.
#1 Make sure you have a solid subject line
You know why some emails get deleted or overlooked? The subject line isn’t clear enough. Keep in mind that whoever you’re emailing is likely to have tons of other messages to go through, especially if it is your boss. So make sure the subject line is clear and explains it all to ensure they actually open and read your email.
#2 Play it safe
Even via email, you’re making an impression and being judged. So avoid being too casual (keep them for your peers in the office) but don’t take an overly formal approach too as it may seem stern and impersonal. It’s a fine balance but here’s the go-to tip: Keep it formal, short and to the point. Start with a proper salutation (Good morning, Hello), go straight to the point of the email, and end with a polite sign-off (Regards, I’ll speak with you soon, Looking forward to your reply).
#3 Avoid going on and on
The golden rule of email? Don’t write aimlessly! Focus on your subject (what, why, when, where, who, how). If you need to address two subjects, write two separate emails so that both topics won’t get lost further down the email thread.
#4 Reply promptly
It’s rude to keep the other person waiting for your reply – a standard 24-hour rule (or within the same work day) applies when you’re responding. If you’re too busy to address everything in the email, a short acknowledgement (“thanks, I’ve received your email and will get back to you soon) is better than not replying. Plus: Don’t just reply OK or Noted; it’s super impersonal and kind of rude, especially if the person has taken time to craft an email that warrants more than just a one-word reply.
#5 Watch your grammar, spelling – and no LOLs!
You’re emailing bosses, current and potential clients, colleagues in the office – you don’t want to be known as the person who can’t spell or string a proper sentence together right? Remember, your email reflects your personality and professionalism. This also means no LOLs, BRBs, TTYLs – save those for your friends.
#6 Send small files
The most annoying thing to receive via email? Huge files that take forever to download or jam up the server. Compress files before you send them. Or use free large-file attachment services like WeTransfer.
#7 Leave CAPS out
WHEN YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS, IT JUST LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING (right?). Even if you want to make a point, there’s no need to use all caps, bold and underline. If your message is clear and direct, everyone will get it.
#8 Go easy on emojis
Best still, go without emojis. Not everyone appreciates it. But if it is someone you’ve been working with for a long time and you want to keep things a little light-hearted between the two of you (especially when you’ve both finalised the project), a smiley face will do (nothing more!). And please, no emojis to your boss or CEO – no matter what!
#9 Avoid emailing and replying everyone
Does everybody in the office need to know you’ll be away for the day? Do you need to reply all to the email asking for volunteers for a project? Unless it is a huge work thing that involves everyone or if the subject is of interest to all of the recipients, don’t hit reply all or your email might be considered spam – and annoying.
#10 When face-to-face is better
There are times when you’re better off with a face-to-face or a phone call, like when you need a super-fast response, if you’re asking your boss for a raise, or if you have a serious issue that needs to be resolved ASAP. It is better to discuss it personally instead of exchanging conversations via email that may be miscommunicated.