the best practices to use email professionally and effectively for business

Business Email Etiquette: 4 Basics For Professional Emails

who this class is for

Employees, Managers, and Professionals

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About this micro-class

Email etiquette practices foster clear and effective communication, ensuring professionalism and respect in business correspondence.

1. Writing an Email

Clear Subject Line

Use a concise and descriptive subject line that accurately reflects the content of the email.

Use vivid words and avoid adverbs and adjectives.

Avoid misleading, vague, or blank subjects lines.

Limit the use of “URGENT” in the email subject.

Managing Recipients

Limit the number of recipients to the minimum. Remove any recipient who is not necessary.

Use Carbon Copy (CC) for recipients who should be informed but don’t actively participate in the discussion.

Organize the email recipients in an appropriate order, such as by seniority, team, or alphabetical. 

Correct Use of BCC

It is appropriate to use BCC when: 

  • Some recipients need to receive the first message but not take part in the subsequent discussion.
  • The email is sent to multiple recipients and you want to hide their email addresses for privacy.
  • You want to remove a recipient from an email thread.

Professional Greeting

Start with a polite greeting, addressing the recipient by name if known.

Clear and Concise Message

Keep the email clear, concise, and focused on the main purpose.

Proper Formatting

Use proper formatting, including paragraphs, bullet points, and spacing for readability.

Write short sentences and paragraphs. Break every paragraph over 3 or 4 lines into smaller paragraphs.

Professional Tone

Maintain a professional and respectful tone throughout the email.

Limit the use of text effects, such as color, bold, italics, or underline.

Apply good judgment when using ALL CAPS, emojis, GIFs, or exclamation marks.

Follow-ups

Follow-up if you don’t receive a reply to an email. It is best to wait 2 or 3 days. 

Follow-up in the same email thread. Ask the recipient whether they have seen your email and clearly state any deadline.

2. Responding to Emails

Timely Response

Always reply to every email.

Aim to reply promptly, within 24-48 hours, especially for important or time-sensitive messages.

Acknowledge Receipt

Confirm receipt of the email if needed and acknowledge the main points raised.

Avoid Changing The Subject

Don’t change the subject when replying to an email as it may be confusing for the recipients.

Don't Remove Recipients

Avoid removing email recipients when you reply. If you do, place them in BCC and notify them.

Adding Recipients in CC When Replying

If you add a recipient in CC for an ongoing email thread, notify the other recipients. Example: “Adding Jane from legal in CC for visibility”.

Salutation

Include a salutation only in the first email reply. In the subsequent replies, you can avoid repeating the same salutation.

Provide Clear Responses

Answer all questions or points raised, and be clear in your responses.

Avoid Overusing "Reply All"

For email threads with large recipient lists, use “Reply All” judiciously, only when the response is relevant to all recipients.

Respectful Closure

Conclude your email with a professional sign-off, expressing gratitude or providing next steps if necessary.

3. Common Mistakes to Avoid

Vague Subject Lines

Avoid using unclear or vague subject lines that might lead to confusion.

Overlooking Proofreading

Always proofread your email for spelling, grammar, and clarity before sending. 

Double-check the spelling of the recipients’ names.

Using an Inappropriate Tone

Ensure the tone is appropriate for the context and the recipient.

Sending Irrelevant Content

Avoid including recipients who don’t need to be part of the conversation.

Ignoring Follow-up or Replies

Respond to follow-up questions or replies promptly and courteously.

4. Attachments and Signatures

Attachment Clarity

Clearly label attachments and ensure they are relevant to the email’s content.

Professional Signature

Have a professional email signature that includes your contact information and designation. Keep your email signature simple and don’t overload it with information.

Make sure that your email signature has no typos or other mistakes.

When replying to an email, include the signature only if needed.

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