laptopinenvelope_464cc5713ef4Email Netiquette

12 Simple Ways to Craft Better Emails Today


You've all seen them. Email communications that have simply gone to pot. And often these same emails are from very important and highly regarded business professionals.


Now I'm not talking about a few typos here and there. I'm not even talking about the occasional grammatical mishap. There are much, much worse albeit very, very common email offenses swirling around out there in the world of email communications. And personally, every time I see the outcome of one of these e-offenders who shoot their half-baked emails onto the "www" without so much as a "once over" or a "double check" (let alone a spell check), it just makes me want to be a better emailer.


If you know what I mean, then here are a few simple ways to make your emails better-not to mention more professional. Trust me. This is the least you can do for your readers.


  1. Use Proper Letter-Writing Style: Even though email is quick and easy, try not to let all your good letter-writing training go out the window. For instance, you should always use a friendly salutation and a professional signature with your name, company name, title and phone number. You should also continue to capitalize the beginning of your sentences and end with proper punctuation. Do not use all capital letters. It's hard to read and may come across to your reader as shouting. Likewise, don't write in all lowercase letters either.
  2. Be Brief; Get to the Point: Even if you're a small business owner, you're likely inundated with emails. Keep this in mind when writing and sending emails, and keep your message brief and to the point. A multi-page message with wall-to-wall text may go unread or be read with much less enthusiasm. Quickly state your reason for emailing. If you are replying, make sure to acknowledge information you have received and answer all the sender's questions as briefly as possible.
  3. Think Twice About What You Write: Particularly in business correspondences, it's important to be cautious about what you say. Use sarcasm and irony sparingly and only when you can be sure it will be taken as such. Remember what you say is easily printed, forwarded and filed by your recipient, so try to use that wonderful wit wisely.
  4. The Considerate Reply: When replying to an email, make sure to type your reply above the original sender's quoted text so that the most recent message is at the top. Also, make sure you don't hit "Reply All" if you're not replying to an email sent to multiple recipients. This is annoying and can be embarrassing.
  5. Rename Emails as Topics Change: If an email exchange shifts topics, it's a good idea to revise your header to reflect this. Always use a succinct, informative header that's easy to decipher in the long run. This will make email filing and finding easier on your end, and it's a small courtesy for your recipient as well.
  6. Tidy Up That Email: When replying to or forwarding an email, it's nice to clean it up a little first. Remove long lists of irrelevant text from previous email exchanges. You can even delete long lists of email addresses. If lines of text are broken down the page or split with text marks like "<<," do your reader a favor by putting the lines back together before you send.
  7. Leave out Cutesy Emoticons and Abbreviations: Particularly for business emails, avoid the use of all the smiley symbols, emoticons and those oh-so-familiar abbreviations best left in teen chat rooms. You know the ones I'm talking about? BTW ("by the way"), LOL ("laugh out loud") and ROTFL ("rolling on the floor laughing").
  8. Go With Your Gut: If you're responding to a disgruntled email, be very careful with your phrasing. If your response feels in any way like it might stir up more prickliness, pick up the phone. It's often much easier to express ourselves and avoid miscommunications this way. We're also less likely to say something we'll regret directly to another person.
  9. Avoid Unnecessary Emails: We all appreciate good manners, but in the world of email, it's not necessary to send a "thank you" email for every request that is filled. This just adds to every busy person's email pileup. Use a "thank you" email only when your sender needs to know you received his/her request or file.
  10. Leave off the Big Attachments: Oversized attachments that aren't necessary or important can bog down email and downloading time. Some email systems have blocks on emails over a certain size so your email never gets received in the first place. Only send large attachments when necessary. Otherwise, try to keep your attachments small (under 1MB) and, whenever possible, include the information in the body of your email.
  11. Say No to Junk Mail Forwards: Don't send chain mail, jokes and petitions unless they're highly relevant to the recipient. These just unnecessarily fill up your recipient's inbox. Besides, if you get the reputation of a junk mail sender, your important emails may go unread down the line.
  12. Reread Your Email Before Hitting Send: It's common courtesy to read over every email before sending it off. Check not only for spelling and grammatical mistakes, but also check for missing words or specialized terms that may cause confusion on the other end. Try to read it from your recipient's point of view to make sure there's nothing confusing or easy to misinterpret included in your email. This is also the time to make sure you have included your attachment, if necessary, and that you don't have any erroneous addressee's listed.


In your business life, email should be approached like any other professional writing endeavor. Your emails are a reflection of your personal professionalism and your company. Even when you're dealing with the pileup of seemingly unimportant emails, and yes, even when you are really, really busy, you need to keep your email writing on the up and up. Be considerate. Be timely. Be efficient and brief. And above all, give that baby a "once over" before sending it off into the world.



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