It used to be just professionals that received hundreds of emails a day but with the advent of (relatively) affordable Internet and the proliferation of iphones, inboxes are being stretched to the limits. I've written some tips to help your message get through above the clamour of SPAM and fwded jokes.
(1) Use Relevant Subject Lines
Ensure that your subject line is relevant to the information contained in the email. This allows the email to be tracked at a later date and ‘sets the mood’ or puts the reader in the right frame of mind for the context of the email.
This will assist with the management of information as well as making everyone’s lives easier!
(2) Quoting Previous Emails/Documents
“If you are referring to a previous email, you should explicitly quote that document to provide context.
Instead of sending email that says:
>“Did you get all of the left-handed thromblemeisters that you needed?” Yes, thank you.
The person you are emailing may not be sitting at their desk, checking their email at the moment you send it or have time to address their emails immediately. As such they may not remember the previous email you are referring to.
(3) Be Clear and Concise
An email should be clear and concise. State your purpose, make your requests and move on.
Within the workplace or any other formal situation, ALWAYS ensure that your email is professional. There is the tendency to be chatty or colloquial in emails but this is not appropriate for the workplace.
Reasons for being professional:
- You want to be taken seriously
- You want to be understood the first time
- You want to make a good impression. Remember, your communications may be shared with co-workers or senior management
“The most difficult thing to convey in an email is emotion. People frequently get in trouble for typing exactly what they would say out loud. Unfortunately, without the tone of voice to signal their emotion, it is easy to misinterpret their intent.”
Using capital letters is considered ‘yelling’ and is generally inappropriate in formal emails (unless it is used in a heading or for other formatting purposes).
(5) Your Email May Be Forwarded or shared
ALWAYS REMEMBER… your email can be forwarded to other people! NEVER put anything in a workplace communication that may be read as a slight on another person. Consider how the email will be read if it is, say, forwarded to other colleagues or senior management.
(6) Web Links
If including a web link, Type in http:// before your URLs and put angle brackets around the URL. Some (but not all) email software will recognise that text inside angle brackets should be kept together. This will ensure the entire link is included.
“Hi - The URL is
See if you like it!”
Try to minimise the total size of any attachments – delete any unnecessary images or compress the files (if you want to be really considerate you could include a link to ‘Winzip’ or similar just in case!)
If the attachment is text information only, maybe you can save the recipient some time and simply paste the information straight into the email.
(8) Reread before sending
Please, REREAD YOUR EMAIL before sending!!! Never ever send an email ‘in the heat of the moment’ or when you are in a rush.
What has been said cannot be unsaid.
- Be careful!
- Be professional and courteous at all times.
(9) When Replying to an Email
Answer all questions that are asked in an email. If you skip questions it will likely result in further emails for clarification. This is utterly ineffective communication.
An opposing POV:
“In a paper document, it is absolutely essential to make everything completely clear and unambiguous because your audience may not have a chance to ask for clarification. With email documents, your recipient can ask questions immediately. Email thus tends, like conversational speech, to be sloppier than communications on paper.”
If you are maintaining a professional attitude in the workplace it does not matter what form the communication takes. It should always be effective and relatively formal.
(10) Signature and Logo
Always include your company’s logo and a professional signature in outgoing emails. This lends an air of authority and is an opportunity to reinforce your company’s identity while representing your company via professional correspondence.
Free marketing... BONUS!