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Email etiquette: what it is and workplace examples (2024)

Email etiquette is the ruleset ensuring effective and respectful communication over electronic mail. It’s essential to keep it in mind to ensure harmony between coworkers and prevent client misunderstandings. You’ll learn the best email etiquette tips in this article.

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What is email etiquette?

Email etiquette is the norm for acceptable email behaviour. It dictates how you should address your colleagues and clients. The goal is to create a harmonious work environment and treat clients respectfully. Its adoption is critical for business success.

Why is email etiquette important?

Email etiquette is important because people like respect. Your clients are more likely to perceive your business positively if you respect them. Likewise, coworkers will collaborate more effectively if they think there’s mutual respect.

Email etiquette also promotes mutual understanding. It’s like culture in the real world. If everyone follows the same norms, the chances of a misunderstanding are lower, helping prevent costly mistakes in the workplace.

Imagine you’re working on an email marketing campaign for your online shop. If it’s confusing or disrespectful, you drive clients away. Effective communication is critical to boosting conversion rates and selling products online. So, read the best practices of email etiquette.

Tips for email etiquette in the workplace (also works for students)

Webmail is a powerful tool. But as with most technologies, it’s up to you to use it well. So, read below 20 rules that ensure your emails cause a strong impression and follow the best practices of email etiquette.

1. Determine if your email is necessary

You don’t need to send every message by email. Many companies use messaging apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams for quick messaging. Or you can simply go to your colleague’s desk and talk.

2. Use a professional email address

Many people follow one of the essential cyber security tips: don’t open messages from unknown sources. Using a professional email address will make recipients identify your email as coming from a company they know, boosting your open rates.

Likewise, never use a personal email to communicate with your colleagues. It comes across as unprofessional. Use your professional email for any business-related matters. This rule also applies to messages inside your workplace.

3. Send your message during work hours

Maybe it’s 8 PM, and you remembered that you needed to inform your coworkers of something. If it can wait, it should. Send your message first thing in the morning the following day. Doing so shows that you respect your peers’ work/life balance.

This advice is even more critical if you’re a manager. Sending emails to your team outside office hours may imply that you expect them to be available at night. Or they may interrupt private tasks to answer you for feeling pressured.

4. Write a precise subject line

You want people to open your message. They’re more likely to do so if they know what it’s about. So, write a descriptive subject line. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if people can correctly guess the email’s content using only the subject line.

5. Use the appropriate salutation

Personalize your message as much as possible. Avoid generic openings like “To whom it may concern.” If you know the recipient’s name, start your message with “Dear.” Depending on the formality level intended, you could use “Hi” or “Hey.”

6. Call people by their name

Michigan State University shared a report claiming that using someone’s name in a conversation can help build trust. Use that to your advantage. Always open your email with the recipient’s name. 

Email etiquette example: 

“Hey Mark,

I’m sending you the report about…”

But it’s essential to know the formality expected when addressing someone. Use the person’s first name when aiming for a casual tone. Use the last if you want to sound formal. If you’re unsure, be safe. Be formal.

Email etiquette example:

“Dear Mr. Johnson,

I’m sending you the report about…”

7. Use an adequate structure

Confusion leads to disinterest. If your email is a disjointed collage of ideas, people will start reading it and quickly close it. So, use the same structure you’d use in an essay: write an introduction, then elaborate on the topic. Finish with a quick conclusion.

8. Respect people’s time

Go straight to the point and explain yourself as briefly as possible. People in the workplace are busy and don’t have time to stop their tasks to read a dissertation. If your email is a vital piece of communication, be sure to ask for feedback before sending it.

9. Stick to one idea

The best way to ensure your email is brief is to stick to only one idea. Before writing your email, consider the core message you want people to understand. Once you discover it, write your email around it.

This approach prevents you from starting unnecessary tangents that will lengthen your email. If there are different topics you’d like to address, write separate messages. 

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10. Follow grammar rules

Grammar exists for a reason. It ensures everyone writes the same way, creating mutual understanding. For this reason, not using proper grammar may make your message confusing, and it’ll undoubtedly be unprofessional.

11. Use proper formality

Some workplaces are more formal than others. For example, a law firm tends to be highly formal, whereas a design startup will most likely be more casual. It’s essential to know the formality level expected in your company. Use it.

The same goes if you’re sending an email to clients. The better you understand them, the more effective your communication will be. Being too casual with an older demographic may come across as disrespectful, while being too formal may drive away youngsters.

12. Show that you care

Include a personal touch when writing your message, but go beyond the typical “I hope you’re having a good day.” Use something you know about your colleague and write it in your email. But, be brief. Use only a short sentence.

Email etiquette example:

“Hi Mark,

I hope you’re happy your team won last night. In any case, I’m sending you the report about…”

13. Don’t insult your audience’s intelligence

Avoid overexplaining things. Imagine you’re working on a project that requires cooperation with another department. You may feel they don’t know much about your job and send them long explanations about what you do. Although you mean well, people can misinterpret your message.

If what you’re describing sounds obvious, people will think you insult their intelligence. Suppose someone comes to you and says, “As a content writer, I write content. My goal is to inform readers.” So, be careful with what you wish to explain to people.

14. Avoid large email attachments

Most email hosts limit how much you can store in an email server. Some can be very restrictive, so avoid taking up a large portion of people’s storage capacity by sending large attachments. A good alternative is uploading files to Google Drive and sending a link. 

15. Add a farewell

Just as you started your email with a salutation, finish it with a proper goodbye. Tell people not to hesitate to contact you if they have questions or comments, and then finish with something like “Kind regards.” What you’ll use depends on the formality level intended.

Email etiquette examples for saying goodbye

Formal examples:

  • Kind regards.
  • Yours truly.
  • Sincerely.
  • Faithfully.

Informal examples:

  • Have a great day.
  • Take care.
  • Good weekend.
  • See you.

16. Include a signature

It’s a good professional practice to sign your emails. Most emails allow you to create one that goes automatically at the end of your message, so you don’t have to type it every time. Your signature should include the following:

  • Name and last name.
  • Professional title.
  • Company name.
  • Email address.
  • Phone number.
  • LinkedIn (if you have it).

For more tips, read a guide on how to write an email signature. It’s best to write your signature as soon as you create a new email account and set it to be used automatically.

17. Proofread

An email full of typos implies that you didn’t care enough to pay attention to your message or review it. If you don’t care, the recipient won’t either. So, ensure that people can see that you made an effort to write a perfect email.

18. Add the recipient’s email address last

Accidents happen. One that can occur is sending an email before it’s ready. To prevent that from happening, keep the field for the message’s recipient blank until you’re ready to send it. This way, you ensure nobody will receive a half-written text or a message full of typos.

19. Reply to your emails

Some people may assume the following: no reply = no. So, they choose not to answer certain messages. Don’t do that. Even if your answer is negative, reply. It shows respect to your colleague or client. Don’t leave them wondering if the answer is negative or maybe you’re just having a busy day.

20. Wait until sending a follow-up message

People are busy, so they may take some time to reply. Respect that. Unless urgent, it’s best to wait two days before sending a follow-up email. Otherwise, you may come across as pushy or desperate.

Email etiquette examples

The tips from the previous section will help you write emails that drive results. And you can now learn through some practical examples of email etiquette.

Informal example of email etiquette

Hey Tobias,

I hope you’re not tired from celebrating Barcelona’s win last night! In any case, I’m sending you the report you asked me to compile on the sales we achieved in the last quarter. 

The sales for Product A have skyrocketed! They’ve gone up 50% over the last quarter! But the user reviews have dropped from 5/5 to 4/5. Perhaps we can look into that.

You can see more exciting numbers in the report attached to this email. Let me know if you have any questions.

May Barcelona’s good form continue.

Have a great day ahead,

Peter Wheldon

Sales Manager – Company XYZ

petter.wheldon@companyxyz.co.uk

0000-0000

Formal example of email etiquette

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am sending you the report I compiled on last quarter’s sales. I am pleased to inform you that we have registered a 50% increase in sales for product A. Unfortunately, its user reviews have dropped from a 5/5 score to a 4/5. I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss the matter.

You can read more exciting findings in the report I am sending you. Do not hesitate to ask any questions.

Faithfully,

Petter Wheldon

Sales Manager – Company XYZ

petter.wheldon@companyxyz.co.uk

0000-0000

These tips will ensure your message adheres to proper email etiquette in the workplace, whether you’re contacting coworkers or people outside your organization. But, there’s one specific message recurring in most offices, and getting it wrong can cause serious problems.

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