Have you ever received an email containing spelling errors, grammar mistakes, or dodgy attachments from a friend, colleague, or company? In today’s world, where communication is sent in the blink of an eye via text message, social media, and especially email, the way in which you communicate on these platforms has been put under the spotlight.
Email etiquette is more important than ever. Even one spelling mistake can give the recipient of your email the impression that you are not attentive to detail, that you have poor language skills, or that you are simply lazy.
We’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask yourself when it comes to your email style; we’ve also included a few basic email etiquette tips to make sure you don’t create a bad impression when you send your next email:
Do you know who to send the email to? And do you know when it is appropriate to use the CC and BCC functions?
Always double-check the email addresses of your recipients before you hit the send button. Include recipients in the “To:” field if you would like them to take action in response to your email, and use the CC field for recipients who you think should take note of the email, but who do not necessarily need to take any action.
Use the BCC (Blind CC) function only when absolutely necessary, and make sure not to use it to talk about people behind their backs.
Are your subject lines vague or non-existent?
The subject line of your email is extremely important, as it gives the recipient an idea of what the email is about, as well as an indication of how urgent it is. Not including a subject line can cause your email to be sent to the recipient’s spam folder, so it’s better to include one. An accurate subject line will also increase the likelihood that the recipient will open your email. Just remember to keep it short and to the point.
Do you acknowledge or greet the recipient in your email?
It is good manners to start your email by addressing the recipient(s). If you know who the recipient(s) will be, you can start with “Dear [name]” or “Hi [name]. And if you are unsure of the recipient’s name, you can start with “To whom it may concern”. Remember to choose a greeting that is appropriate for the email, as this sets the tone for your email.
Have you re-read the contents of your email?
Once you’ve finished writing your email, it is a good idea to read through it at least once, to check for mistakes. Make sure that the message you want to convey is conveyed clearly and correctly, and that you haven’t included too much (or too little) detail. This is also the ideal time to run a spell check. It is especially important that you check that you have spelt the names of people correctly. Use the name they have chosen to use, and do not shorten it unless they give you a shortened name to use.
When you receive an email, do you respond or acknowledge receipt?
When you receive an email, it is best to respond — whether by simply acknowledging receipt, or by responding to specific aspects discussed in the email.
Want to learn more about email etiquette, grammar, or basic English language skills in general?
This article was originally published on September 23, 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.