4 Tips For Excellent Email Etiquette

4 Tips For Excellent Email Etiquette


Regardless of the path you’ve taken to get to your role, chances are your education or experience has not included formal training on email etiquette. For many people in business, the drafting and dissemination of emails is an integral part of their day. It tends to be the preferred means of communication for most and therefore makes it an important factor in successful operations. If you find yourself wondering how you could better your email etiquette, see the below four tips.

1. Know your audience

One of the first tips taught to professional writers is to establish your audience and focus on writing for them. This can apply in emails as well and does not have to be an arduous process. From the beginning, it’s important to understand who you’re talking to in the email and what language is therefore appropriate or not appropriate. Terms such as ‘Dear sir/madam’ show that you have not taken the time to learn whom you’re writing to, and similarly, very informal language can also be looked down upon. If you pay attention to the person you are speaking to, your message is likely to be interpreted more positively.

2. Consider your distribution

Good email etiquette includes sending the message to the correct person from the beginning. We’ve all been victims of the ‘Reply all’ function in the workplace, and when it is not overly relevant to you, it can be rather annoying. To avoid clogging up people’s inboxes unnecessarily, ask yourself who needs to receive the information that you are sending. If someone has asked to be cc’d in, definitely cc him or her in, but if you are replying to something relevant to only a small amount of people, use the ‘Reply all’ function sparingly.

3. Don’t ignore the subject line

There are two main issues with subject lines in emails – they are too vague or they are far too long. A vague subject line does not help a person to understand the context and can result in negative situations such as your email being incorrectly prioritised. On the other hand, the subject line doesn’t need to be a mini essay – it should contain enough words to get the point across, but not so many that people stop reading. When it comes to a subject line, good email etiquette ensures that the reader knows exactly what the email is about, without overdoing it. For example, ‘meeting’ is too brief, and ‘meeting to discuss strategic objectives of CDI plan on Tuesday 12 March in Room 7 with Walter, George and Sophie’, is far too long. A good balance of the two would be ‘Meeting – Tuesday 12 March – CDI plan’.

4. Ensure your signature is detailed

When you have an email signature for work purposes, it is essentially your online business card. Like a business card, it needs to contain all of the important information relevant to you, your role and your organisation. A good way to think of your signature is as your first impression to those you communicate with. If it looks unprofessional, unfinished or is not useful, this can reflect poorly on your reputation. A good email signature and therefore good email etiquette includes your name, title, company, key contact information, company website and social media pages.

What do you think?

Do you have any other email etiquette tips to add to this list? I’d love to hear how you make your emails more effective, and any tips you may have for our readers. Comment your views below and join the conversation.

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. 

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