Education & Career Trends: 10 Rules Of Email Etiquette

6 min read

Edition: March 10, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Following appropriate email etiquette is key to leaving a good impression upon the receiver. (Image Credit: Canva)
  • Excerpts from article by Ashley Stahl, published on

Email is an effective communication tool for many businesses. It is fast, easy, and accessible. It also acts as a ready resource for you. In case you forget some details of a project, you can easily find them through a smart search of related email threads.

Email is also effective at disseminating information among team members. However, on the other hand, there is no way to ‘unsend’ an email.

So, before sending, it is necessary to make sure you’re using email as an appropriate form of business communication.

Business emails should be used to send information that is:

  • Relevant: Email can be used when a call or one-on-one conversation won’t suffice. It should be necessary and relevant to the receiver. 
  • Timely: When time is of the essence, email is the perfect tool to send relevant information quickly to everyone on the team. 
  • Content-rich: When file attachments or links to web-based material need to be shared, email is an effective tool to do that. 

Emails can be a powerful tool to create a great first impression on:
— Potential employers
— Future Business partners
— A famous professor whose guidance you wish to seek for your thesis

The way you use email will decide the kind of impression you leave on the receiver.

Here are 10 etiquettes to follow while using email as an effective communication tool:

1. Avoid all caps, exclamation marks, and slangs.

  • Email can be a relaxed way of communicating, making it appealing to add a few exclamation points or use all caps for emphasis.
  • But all caps give the impression of yelling, and too many exclamation marks come across as being overly enthusiastic or insincere.
  • Avoid slang usage. Include industry-specific jargon only if you’re writing to one of your peers. 

2. Don’t overuse bold, underline, and italics.

  • While it is acceptable to use one form of accentuation, such as bold, avoid overusing multiple forms of emphasis in a single email. 
  • Use it to draw attention from one point to another.
  • Think of emphasised words as creating their own sentence as the reader scans from one accentuated word to the next and so on.

3. Be mindful of your tone

  • Stay positive and professional by avoiding negative or accusatory language.
  • Negative connotations can affect how the reader receives your message.
  • Rephrase sentences positively to deliver the message in a neutral tone.

4. Be mobile-friendly with short, concise messages.

  • Avoid being overly descriptive.
  • Determine if you can phrase something with ten words, then try to see whether you can do so with five.
  • A study suggests that more than 50% of all emails are misinterpreted, and only 53% are actually read.
  • It also concludes that one-third of business professionals check email on their mobile devices, and that seven in ten users instantly delete emails not displayed correctly on a phone. 

5. Be careful when trying to be humorous.

  • Humour is subjective. Something which you might find amusing, someone else may not.
  • Remember, email is void of tone, body language, and other non-verbal cues.
  • Therefore, it is important to be careful while framing your words.

6. Include respectful salutations and closings.

  • It is alright to address your recipient with “Good morning, < recipient’s name>” or “Hello.”
  • Avoid being too informal, especially if you’re seeking a job.
  • Always use the recipient’s preferred name or prefix and close respectfully.
  • Proper closings can include, “I look forward to hearing from you,” “best,” or “thank you.” 

7. Create a professional signature.

  • All email messages should include a professional signature.
  • Include relevant contact information, including job title, company, website, and phone number.
  • If you’re a job seeker, include a link to your LinkedIn page.
  • Also when appropriate, include links to your business social pages. 

8. Use succinct subject lines.

  • Try to keep your subject lines to less than 50 characters, or six to ten words.
  • Mention important details and be to the point, for example: ‘Meeting scheduled on 6/4/22 at 4 PM’, ’10 reasons to hire an assistant’, or ‘nice meeting you yesterday.’
  • Conveying crisp, to the point messages leaves no ground for confusion.  

9. Respond timely and appropriately.

  • Respond to important emails at your earliest convenience.
  • If your response requires more time, send a quick revert informing about so.
  • This shows respect for the sender and is always appreciated. 

10. Proofread your email before sending.

  • You can’t undo it once you have sent an email. 
  • Therefore, before sending out one, double-check everything, including your message, spelling, grammar, and your signature. 
  • Make sure you have attached or linked the documents noted in your email. 

An essential part of email etiquette is knowing when to respond and how often to do so.

If you are seeking a job, go with this three-email approach:

1. The first email includes your resume and cover letter.
2. If you don’t receive a response within a few days, send a short and succinct follow-up and reattach your resume.
3. A week to ten days after the initial email, send one more follow-up by forwarding your first email without attachments.

This same strategy can be applied post-interview:

1. Your first email is used to thank the interviewer for their time and to answer or respond to any issues that were brought up during the interview.
2. A few days later, follow-up with a short one or two sentence email.
3. Ten days after your interview, send one more note thanking them again for their time and asking if they have any follow-up questions for you or need any additional information.

Following these simple etiquette practices will definitely yield better results from your email communication.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Career Trends: 6 Reasons Why You Hate Your Job and What to Do About It

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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