Email Etiquette Rules for Every Professional

John Krautzel
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In the mid-1990s, email etiquette for intraoffice communications did not exist, and the only thing to worry about was getting the fax number right before hitting the "send" button. Consistent and considerate emails are one key to running a professional office in contemporary business models. Remember these rules to ensure proper email communications throughout your company.

Denote a concise subject line in as few words as possible. "Meeting date changed" says the same as "Change the date on your calendars from Monday to Thursday." Quick, concise information that needs little interpretation is one key to effective professional communication.

Pick a professional email handle. Remember, your name is placed next to the company's name. An email name of "" is not professional. Consider "" as a first initial and last name. Email etiquette rules do not leave room for anything that denotes sex, drugs, hobbies or affectations.

Watch who you write to, especially with a "reply all" button. Certain news, policies and decisions do not need to go to everyone in the email office pool. One piece of information to the wrong person could send rumors flying.

Greet everyone professionally. Try "Hello," "Greetings" or "Happy Monday" instead of "what's up," "hey," or "howdy." You can still be creative, yet stay within the bounds of proper email etiquette. A thesaurus or dictionary is your friend if you want various email salutations.

Keep punctuation simple, so avoid exclamation points, semicolons, colons and long lists. Stay away from complex constructions, weird plurals and unnatural speech. Proofread your stuff, including reading it aloud to yourself, so it sounds normal. You can still be an effective communicator without rewriting "War and Peace."

Be aware that your type of humor may not be for everyone. Verbal jokes sound differently when written, especially if a joke relies on comedic timing or voice inflections. Refrain from jokes unless your recipient knows you well enough to realize the humor of the situation. You would not tell a tasteless joke to the entire office, so email etiquette is the same as normal, professional communication in this case.

Acknowledge an email with a reply, even a minimal one. No one likes to be ignored. A timely reply, even one that states "Thank you for your note, we will discuss this later," is better than no reply at all. This is simple, common courtesy and not just email etiquette.

Do not email while working on other tasks. During meetings, pay attention rather than composing a note on your iPad or tablet device. You might miss something important, either in the meeting or in the message.

Add recipients to the email last, just in case you accidentally hit "send" prematurely. Make sure to find the proper recipients as well, especially when co-workers have similar names. "Tim S" in accounting may not want the email destined for "Tim H" in parts and delivery.

Basic email etiquette is the same concept as treating others as you want to be treated. When your boss sends you an intraoffice communication, you want it to be concise, free of errors, to-the-point and well-thought out. Your emails should have identical, high standards.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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  • Ronni Lynch
    Ronni Lynch

    Liked this post. I can't believe how many inappropriate e mails I receive from company management.

  • richard n.
    richard n.

    So true we just need to slow down a little and read before you send.

  • Billie C.
    Billie C.

    So true! Life's simpler moments. Its amazing how far we've come.

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