Many of us forget that there are indeed social requirements around emailing and sending electronic information. These norms are often overlooked by senders perhaps because of the rapidity and ease of pushing “send”. Emails to/with family and friends can often require less formal rules/guidelines.
- Avoid using abbreviations, especially those expressing emotion in more formal writings –Remove “LOL”, “TTYL”, “☺” from your vocabulary. It is important to remain professional
- Always use a subject line! –Your subject line should include a brief summary of the email that the person will be reading.
- Utilize a greeting and signature –Don’t assume that the reader knows who you are or that they will try to figure out who you are by your email. Additionally, salutations add a personal touch and convey a form of respect.
- Reply to emails as soon as possible (or in a reasonable time period)–Replying to emails as soon as possible conveys to the recipient that you care about their message as they are often times waiting for a reply.
- Addressing the recipient –When addressing the recipient, you can use the person’s first name if you are familiar with the person. In many cases, in professional settings, you will likely address someone by their Mr. Ms., Professor, Dr., etc. unless and until you develop a less formal relationship. In the absence of or if you are unsure of the person’s name, you may use the person’s job title (ex: Dear Human Resources Manager).
- Don’t harass someone that you have sent a message to –Perhaps there is a reason for the person that you sent the email to for not replying. Consider their time and respect their delay. If you have not received a response, it is ok to send an email enquiring if they have received your email.
- Emails are not private forms of communication! –Emails can easily be forwarded, saved and hacked. Avoid sending personal information or information that you would not like for the world to potentially see.
- TO vs. CC –The “TO” line is for the people you are directly addressing and/or requesting a response. The “CC” line is used to keep people in the know/in the loop of the conversation. CC recipients are typically not being requested to respond.
- Use the BCC only if you wish to protect the identity of your email list –BCC (blank carbon copy) is not to covertly mask an email recipient in the terms of quietly copying someone so that the rest of the email recipients will not know that you have sent it to them. BCC should be used if you wish to keep privacy and anonymity among the recipients like if you are sending an email to all of your clients/vendors.
- Use the spell check –Check your spelling before you send the email! Especially in formal emails, it is important to focus on presenting yourself in a professional manner. Spelling errors are not a way of conveying professionalism.
- Attachments –Attachments are important tools for relaying and conveying information that cannot/should not be fully typed out. Be mindful that you should refer to the attachment in your email message. Without referring to the attachment, recipients might assume that the attachment is “spam” or may containing a virus.
- Use brevity –Long emails often get overlooked. Make your point clearly and concisely without leaving out any information. State your purpose in the beginning and provide supporting material after. Nobody wants to read any email to the end to finally get to the point of the email.
- AVOID USING ALL CAPS! –The call caps (capital letters) is often interpreted to convey emotion. Avoid using all caps or at least use it sparingly.