It is a well-known fact that the average U.S. employee spends a quarter of his or her time at work combing through hundreds of emails that an employee sends and receives each day. Whether you are a student, a stay-at-home mom, or a working professional, plenty of people still don’t know how to use email appropriately. How many of us make embarrassing mistakes that could end up being detrimental in a professional setting? With technology being so advanced and everyone having the latest and greatest smartphone in hand at all times, spelling errors are made more frequently and people’s tone or content may come off as more casual.
While we are continuously trying to work faster and more efficiently, we must remember the social rules that come with any form of communication. Here are some do’s and don’ts of email etiquette.
Do have a clear subject line.
As professionals, we all have hundreds of emails clogging our inbox every day, so the clearer the subject line, the more likely the message will be read. Try to make your subject line more specific so it catches your reader’s attention.
Don’t forget a signature.
Every email that you send should include a signature that tells your recipient who you are and how they should contact you. Your signature should include all contact details so the recipient doesn’t have to look up your information.
Do use a professional salutation.
Beginning an email with “Hey”, “Yo” or “Sup” is not professional, regardless of how well you know the recipient. You should use “Hi” or “Hello” instead. When writing a more formal email, use “Dear (insert name).”
Don’t use humor.
Sometimes, humor does not translate well via email. Something you might think is funny is often misinterpreted by the other party, or taken as sarcasm, without seeing your facial expression. When in doubt, leave humor out of written, professional communication.
Do proofread your message.
Always check your spelling, grammar and structure before hitting “send.” If your email is full of misspelled words or grammatical errors, you could be perceived as careless.
Don’t assume the recipient knows what you’re talking about.
You should create your message as an email that stands-alone, even if it is part of a chain email. Because you and your recipient both have hundreds of emails coming in each day, they likely won’t remember the chain of events leading up to your one email.
Do keep private material confidential.
These days, it is very easy to share emails, even if you don’t mean to. If you have to share highly personal or confidential information, it is always best to do so over the phone or even better, in person. You should ask permission before posting sensitive material in an email or attachment.
Don’t shoot from the lip.
Never give a quick response or send an angry email. Take some time and give your message thoughtful consideration, especially if emotions are high. A good practice if you feel angry when writing an email is to put your message in the “drafts” folder so you can review it again later when you are calmer.
Don’t overuse exclamation points.
Exclamation points and other indicators of excitement, such as emojis, abbreviations and all capital letters do not translate well in professional communication.