Elements of E-mail Etiquette: Some Best Practices
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Elements of E-mail Etiquette: Some Best Practices

When you write an e-mail, you focus on sharing important information with or getting a response from one or more recipients. The way your e-mail is perceived by the recipients depends on the elements of e-mail etiquette you have followed while writing the e-mail. This article includes some common best practices that covers the basic e-mail writing etiquette you should consider in any business environment.

In any business environment, e-mail etiquette is given high importance to ensure successful business. Have you ever received a poorly written e-mail or have you been advised by someone to take care of the tone of your e-mail messages you send? Whether you write an e-mail to your colleague, your boss, or any customer, the way you write the message makes a huge impact in terms of your professional attitude, your skills to address issues by writing, and your ability to share specific information. The ability to write professional e-mail is an important competency that every organization expects from its employees. Here are a few best practices on e-mail writing etiquette that you should follow while drafting an e-mail.

Ensure proper salutation: Start your e-mail with a proper salutation.

When you know the person very well you are writing to, you may use only their names, for example, “Paul,” or “Hi Paul,” etc. If you are writing to your superior or manager, it is best to use “Dear Smith,” or “Dear Mr Smith,” in the salutation.

If you are not familiar with a name you are writing an e-mail to, you may not be sure how to address the person - by his or her first name or surname. The best way to confirm is to check with your manager or someone you know have been working with the recipient you intend to send an e-mail. If these sources do not work at all, it is good to have a polite statement after your salutation in the e-mail stating, “Hope you are fine being address as... .”

Most importantly, make sure that you insert a comma after the salutation in any case.

Use small paragraphs: The best way to state your idea or information in an e-mail is to have them in short paragraphs. You may begin with a real short paragraph with a welcoming statement to your receipient saying, “Hope you are doing fine.” Next, you can have one or two more paragraphs for the matter of discussion. It is preferable to use bulleted or numbered list for:

  • A set of questions you want the receipient to reply
  • A small step-by-step instruction on “how to...” matters
  • A list of requirements you have for your project

And, let the paragraphs be separated with proper line spaces for easy reading.

Have only one topic per e-mail: Most often, e-mails describing different topics are considered poor and annoying. So, make sure you discuss about only one topic and share the related information only as much as is important for the e-mail recipient to understand. In case you have other information, such as documents or e-mails you have received from someone, related to your e-mail message, and you want the receipient to refer to them, prefer to add such information as attachments.

Follow rules of writing strictly: Typos, grammatical errors, and unnecessaary capitalization are again the signs of a poorly written e-mail. So, it is highly essential that you ensure avoiding any typing error, using correct grammar, and eliminating unnecessaary emphasis in your e-mail. If your message has acronyms, it is better to use the spelt out form and the acronyms in parentheses or vice versa, depending on what style you generally follow. Be consistent!

Sign off your e-mail: Once you have drafted the entire e-mail body, it is best to end it with your signature. You can have phrases, such as “Best regards,” “Thanks and regards,” or even “Regards” in the signature line followed by your common name in the next line. Many people do not hesitate to include a motivational quote or a popular tag line from a TV show after the signature. Most customers would not consider inclusion of such quotes in an e-mail. So, avoid it. It is best to follow your organization’s guidelines on how to present your e-mail signature. If not, it is better to get rid of such quotes if something does not relate to your work, especially for your e-mail to look professional.

In a business environment, e-mails are an important aspect for the business itself and therefore a clearly written e-mail to your colleagues or customers can be a strategic driver for the business to grow. Be specific about what you have to say in your message and let the recipeint save time without having to keep pondering over your requirements.  E-mail being consider as a medium of successful communication, make effective use of it while applying the necessary e-mail etiquette.

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Comments (1)

Thank you Samir. Good article. It says I have no votes. I could not vote anybody. But my affectionate support is with you.

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