Do's and Don'ts of Email Etiquette

In a world of convenience, it’s easy to see why e-mail is the go-to form of communication in today’s workplace. You don’t have to pick up the phone to make a call or worry about interrupting someone during a busy time. We now have tablet devices, laptops and smartphones that allow us to send and receive messages from anywhere. Because of the convenience of sending an e-mail, at times we can make unnecessary mistakes that have the potential to be detrimental to your reputation, both personally and professionally.

There are certain standards expected for e-mail use. Below will give you some tips to keep in mind regarding professional e-mail etiquette.

1.  A Clear and Direct Subject Line
With hundreds of e-mails filling an inbox a day, it is important to be clear in your subject line. Many times individuals decide when and whether to open an e-mail based on the subject line. It is important to let readers know what your content is and the purpose of the e-mail via the subject field. *Remember to proof your subject line as carefully as you would proof the rest of the e-mail.*
Examples of a good subject line include "Meeting date changed," "Quick question about the website launch," or "Suggestions for the DDN Project."
2.  E-mail Reflects You and Your Company
Although you may use slang and abbreviations in e-mail to your colleagues, it is important to follow standard writing protocol when communicating externally via e-mail. Because your e-mail message reflects you and your company, remember to use traditional spelling, good grammar, and appropriate punctuation. Never use all capital letters as it looks as if you’re shouting. To emphasize important words, consider using asterisks or bold formatting.
3.  Short and to the Point
We all can agree that it is overwhelming to open an e-mail and see paragraph after paragraph of text. First of all, nobody has time for that. Secondly, very few people will actually read the whole thing. When sending e-mails, be clear and be up front remembering to state the purpose of the e-mail within the first two sentences. Make sure when you look at what you're sending it doesn't look like a burden to read. Bullet points are an easy way to clean it up, summarize and bring the attention of the reader to the important portion of the email.
4.  Use “reply all” only when Required
It can be easy to click “Reply All,” but it is important to think twice before doing so. You don’t like reading emails from 15 different people when it has nothing to do with you, so why would anyone else? Refrain from hitting "Reply All" unless it's useful to every recipient.
5.  Use BCC and CC Correctly
The use of blind copy and courtesy copy must be used sparingly and appropriately. Only CC people who are directly involved—the overuse of CC is a quick way to clutter inboxes. BCC is most commonly used for large mailings. Do use BCC so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names.

Every e-mail you send adds to, or detracts from your reputation, both personally and professionally. If your e-mail is disorganized, filled with mistakes, or overwhelming, the recipient will be inclined to think the same of you. Always strive to improve your daily efforts—take into consideration the above tips while composing your next e-mail. After all, without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.

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