Email Etiquette: 10 Tips for the Workplace

By Workplace Learning Solutions

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When eating out, do you know which way to pass the bread?  What about which fork to use with your salad?  If you're like most people, you may never master the many details of dining etiquette. Proper dining etiquette is a good thing to know if you are a socialite. However, the stakes are not as high as they are when it comes to  email etiquette.  Email etiquette  is a very important skill to master.  If you are not using proper email etiquette, you are likely to send the wrong impression to the people reading your messages.

We live in the Internet age where everything is quick with a shortcut.   A lot of times, you are replying to emails while on the go.  When you do that, you are usually not giving much thought to what you are typing.  Being careless when writing emails can ruin your professional reputation. So it is important that you follow the basic rules of email etiquette.

Many people who use email for business don't seem to realize that the way you communicate with friends and family is not the same for the workplace. Work email should be professional. Too often email communication at work is impolite and filled with mistakes. Not using proper email etiquette can create a bad impression about you. You don't want your boss, co-workers, clients or prospective employers judging you based on some avoidable mistakes, right?

Here are a few email etiquette tips for the workplace:

email etiquette

Mastering Email Etiquette in 10 Steps


1.  Don't send "Emotional Emails".

Responding to email messages while you're angry, or speaking badly about others (especially your boss) are all major no-no's.   Always remember that emails last FOREVER.  So, if you're feeling emotional, walk away from the computer and wait a while before you reply.


2.  Respond in a timely manner.

An email should be treated like a phone call and returned in a timely manner.   Be sure you follow the rules for your specific work environment.

3.  Avoid using abbreviations.

Using shortcuts such as "4 u" (instead of "for you"), "Gr8" (for great) in business email  is not acceptable. You wouldn't put a smiley face or emoticon in a letter you were mailing, so neither should you put it in an email message.  These mistakes have the potential of making you look less than professional.


4.  Be clear in your subject line.

A typical inbox is being  flooded with hundreds of emails daily.  It's important that your subject line is very direct and specific. It should be simple yet clear enough that the person receiving it is able to tell what the email is about.

email etiquette

5.  Know your audience.

Write for the person who will be reading the message. If they tend to be very polite and formal, then you should do the same. If they are more informal and relaxed then adjust your style to fit theirs.


6.   Make sure you are sending the email to the right person.

Pay attention when typing a name from your address book on the email's "To" line. It is very easy to select the wrong name. Especially if you are  sending from your smartphone.  Sending an email to the wrong person  can be embarrassing to you and to the person who receives the email by mistake.


7.  Take Another Look Before You Send a Message.

One way to avoid misunderstandings is to allow every message to rest before you send it.  After some time, return to the message and review it.  Try to read it from the recipient's point of view.

email etiquette

8.  Respond to group emails appropriately.

If you’re part of a group message, choosing the wrong one can make a huge difference. If you do hit “reply all” make sure the email is relevant to the entire group.  If you don't, you may end up sending something you wish a few of them never read.  Replying to all also generates a lot of email replies which junks up everyone's inbox.


9.  Watch your tone.

No matter how you feel about the people you're communicating with or what the message is about, go out of your way to always be upbeat and polite.


10.  Signatures should be simple.

Using an automatic signature for your email messages is encouraged. Your name, basic contact information, position, and maybe a website link are all you need.


email etiquette

Every email you send is a snapshot of you.  It may be your first impression to someone you've never met before. You do not want to send the wrong impression.  Take your time and use proper email etiquette when putting together a well-written message. Once you hit the send button you won't have a second chance.


RELATED:  Interview Follow-Up Emails: 3 Strategies for Better Results


About the Author:

Workplace Learning Solutions LLC (WLS) is a professional development agency in Atlanta, GA. We provide career and job readiness coaching to professionals and job seekers.  We also work with organizations that are interested in providing professional development opportunities and training to their staff.  Our writers are experienced career and professional development coaches and instructors passionate about career success.  You will find our articles to be timely, interesting and thought provoking.  Individuals who are interested in improving their professional image, advancing their careers, and finding a good balance between life and work will find great value in our writing.  To learn more about WLS, you can visit our website at

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