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Good email etiquette guide

Reviewed 9 March 2021

You may consider implementing etiquette rules for the following three reasons:

  • Professionalism: by using proper email language your Company will convey a professional image.
  • Efficiency: emails that get to the point are much more effective than poorly worded emails.
  • Protection from liability: employee awareness of what may be considered poor behaviour displayed in emails will protect your Company from risk.

Good email etiquette

Email etiquette refers to the principles of behaviour that one should use when writing or answering email messages.

Bad email etiquette reflects badly on us, and a record of this is kept in mailboxes over which we have no control. Good email etiquette reflects well on us, improves our public perception and persona and increases the chance of a prompt and comprehensive response. It’s not hard to maintain good email etiquette once we know what it is. 

Here are some important rules to follow when using email:

1. Delete spam!

Whilst we have robust spam filters in place, sometimes spam emails may reach our inbox. If you reply or ‘unsubscribe’, you are confirming that your email address is 'live' and it will generate even more spam. Therefore, just hit the delete button

2. Don't forward virus hoaxes or chain letters

If you receive an email message warning you of a new unstoppable virus that will immediately delete everything from your computer, this is most probably a hoax. By forwarding hoaxes you use valuable bandwidth and sometimes virus hoaxes contain viruses themselves, by attaching a so-called file that will stop the dangerous virus. The same goes for chain letters that promise incredible riches or ask your help for a charitable cause. Even if the content seems to be bona fide, the senders are usually not. Since it is impossible to find out whether a chain letter is real or not, the best place for it is the bin.

3. Be concise and to the point

Do not make an email longer than it needs to be. Remember that a long or waffly email can be very discouraging to read.

4. Answer all questions and pre-empt further questions

An email reply must attempt to answer any questions raised and pre-empt further questions. If you don’t do this, you will likely receive further emails regarding the unanswered questions, which will not only waste your time and the senders time but also potentially cause frustration. Moreover, if you are able to pre-empt relevant questions, the receiver of your response will be grateful and impressed with your efficient and thoughtful customer service. Imagine for instance that a customer sends you an email asking which credit cards you accept. Instead of just listing the credit card types, you can guess that their next question will be about how they can order, so you also include some order information and a URL to your order page. Customers will definitely appreciate this.

5. Use proper spelling, grammar & punctuation

Unprofessional spelling, grammar and punctuation give a bad impression of you and the Company. It is also important for conveying the message properly. Emails with no full stops or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text. Use a spell checker before pressing send!

6. Be responsive and answer swiftly

Aim to respond to emails quickly, even if it is to state when the origina

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