If you are a working professional, it is likely that you have to send out quite a few emails – to your colleagues, seniors, customers, bosses, and so on. As your responsibilities increase in an organization, the number of emails you have to write only goes up. Every email needs attention. Every email needs to be well thought out and well written. Ensure that correct English grammar is used in emails. Improving your email writing skills and especially knowing your email etiquette is of top priority.
Over time, certain norms have developed regarding emails, especially in a professional environment. Here are some important tips to make your emails better and more professional. With practice, following these tips will become very easy.
Be Clear and Concise
Your email should be as clear and concise as possible. Write your email such that it conveys your message and asks your question crisply. A simple way to be clear is to use short sentences. However, do not leave out important details just to keep your email short. This will avoid unnecessary back and forth in communication.
Use Correct English grammar
Make sure to use correct spelling and English grammar in your email communication. It is always a good idea not just to do a spell check but also to read and revise your email once you have written it.
Do not use abbreviated words such as ‘lyk’ instead of like, ‘coz’ instead of because, and ‘gud’ instead of good in your emails. These are suited only for text messages between friends and definitely do not belong in professional emails. Only commonly accepted professional abbreviations such as, FYI for “For Your Information” or “etc.” are okay.
Use the Right Tone
Be mindful of the tone your email conveys. Is it professional and friendly, or abrupt and rude? Your tone should be such that if your mail is read aloud, it sounds pleasing and friendly, not rude and terse. Of course, be gentle in the words you use in your email. Once sent, they won’t come back.
Pay Attention to Formatting
Try to keep your email neat and clean in its formatting. Keep your fonts consistent and do not use very childish or fancy calligraphic fonts. Find out whether your company has a preferred font and signature as part of its branding strategy, and use that. Stay away from personalized signatures like a favorite quote. Your mails will go outside your company and should convey the company’s brand, not your personal beliefs about love, war, or whatever be your topic of choice.
If responding to someone’s questions, it’s okay to embed your responses below the questions in their email. If you’re doing so, remember to use a different color or size so that you can highlight the difference between the sender’s questions and your responses.
Use To, Cc, and Bcc Correctly
In the “To” field of your email, enter the address of the person to whom your mail is addressed. This is the person you are directly speaking to. In the “Cc” field of your email, enter all the people who you think need to know the information in your mail but are not immediately required to either act or respond to the mail. The “Bcc” field is used mostly for confidential emails such as those containing information about salaries, benefits, performance, etc. So, use this only if you officially don’t want people to know who else is getting your email.
Write Clear Subject Lines
Your subject line should communicate the key message of your email. Also, it should grasp the readers’ attention and urge him / her to open and spend time on your email. In professional emails, you should rarely find yourself writing, “Hello” or “Hey” in your subject line. More informative lines such as, “Attached Staffing Requirement Document | Please Review” or “Need Opinion | Upcoming Marketing Event” or “Pipeline Sheet | Changes Required” are more useful and appropriate. Do not leave the subject line blank just because you can’t think of something crisp enough or you’re running out of time. That would only confuse people and make it difficult to scan through their inbox to find your email later, if they need it. Remove all the extra “Fw: Re: Subject Lines” from your email when you send it to someone. Only one “Fw” or “Re” is enough to signify that the recipient is getting an email originally sent by someone else or as a response to a previous email. Also, avoid using a general line such as, “Look at this” or “Check this out” or “As requested.” All these lines do nothing to clarify the purpose of your email and are an opportunity lost.
Be Careful When Mailing Attachments
Attachments are a tricky business. There will often be situations where you need to attach documents and send them to your manager or team members. This is expected in a professional environment, so you do not need to ask the recipients’ permission each time. However, you do have to be careful about how often and how many attachments you’re sending. While there is no fixed rule regarding this, if your email contains many attachments, it is a good idea to zip them into a single folder for ease of access. Also, if your attachments are increasing the size of the email too much, you can break them up across two emails. In that case, let your subject line reflect that your emails are “Part 1” and “Part 2.” You might be required to do this by your company’s email policy which may not allow attachments larger than a certain size. The big no-no for mailing attachments is mailing viruses to your unsuspecting recipients. Most large offices have IT teams that take care of your computer hygiene. However, unless you keep updating your anti-virus software when the IT team requests for it, your computer, and by extension the entire network will also be at risk. Also, if you transfer files on your computer from a pen drive without scanning it first, you could be mailing viruses without even realizing it.
Be Careful When Forwarding Email
Forwarding unnecessary jokes and pictures is an absolute ‘no’ in a professional environment. Don’t do it, even to your immediate team members or friends within the company. It’s not professional and will make you look immature. When you forward work-related email, do not do so carelessly. Send it only to people who have use for it or from whom you need something as a follow up from that forwarded email. Also, forward the mail with a short message describing why you’re sending the email. Something simple like, “Below are some of the questions sent by the store associates. We should have a meeting to go through all of them.” Or “Please see the email thread below to understand the issue this customer is facing. Do you think we need to escalate?”
The underlying thought in all the above guidelines is that emails you send at work are very different from those you send to your friends and family. The medium and format may seem informal, but it’s not. You build your brand through the emails you send – make sure you project the right image.
Good communication skills are important in a workplace. In order to have a good command over your written and spoken English, improve your English grammar. You can try the EnglishHelper’s English speaking course. It is free and easy to use, it will help make your communication skills stronger and will also increase your confidence at your workplace.
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