8 email etiquette tips for staying professional at work.

email etiquette

8 email etiquette tips for staying professional at work.

Whilst it's pretty much the norm now for internal emails to be a lot less formal than those you send to clients or people outside of your organisation, it's sometimes important to remember that work emails are still work emails, and just like everything else in the office, there's often some 'office email etiquette' that you'll have to abide to. And so, we've pulled together a few tips for how for remaining professional via both internal and external emails.

Use a relevant subject line.

Research has shown that recipients will decide whether or not to open an email based on what is in the subject line. It’s almost like the first impression of the email world, and so you need to make it concise, relevant, and one that let’s your reader know that you are about to add value to their day, address a specific issue or something that is important for them to read.

Do you really need to ‘reply all’?

Is there really anything worse than having Sandra from accounts and Dave from HR having a conversation between themselves… with the whole office CC’d in? No.

If you don’t need to reply all, don’t do it - because the likelihood is your email is just going to clog up someone else’s inbox, as well as distract everyone from their work with all of the notifications that will appear on their screens or phones.

Obviously, there are times when an email group needs to be used - but do just be careful before hitting the Reply All button if you don’t need to.


Make sure you have a professional signature.

If you don’t already have a signature on your work emails - get one. As well as looking professional, it also gives your recipient key information about you. Include the position you hold within your company, your contact information, and you could also include a link to your LinkedIn profile too if you wish. It’s an opportunity to market yourself to people outside of your company - but just be careful not to go too overboard.

Add the email address last & double check it’s the correct person!

There’s a funny keyboard shortcut on your emails (don’t ask me what it is, I always do it by accident) that can send your email without you pressing send with your mouse. Trust us when we say, we’ve done this way too many times to count, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to send a follow up email with ‘whoops, didn’t mean to press send!’. Adding the email address last, means that this can never happen, and also ensure that you double check you’re sending it to the correct person - particularly if you’re sending confidential or important information.

Use exclamation marks lightly.

Oh boy, I used to be super guilty of this. I was always worried that my emails would come across too formal, blunt or angry unless I put an exlamation mark at the end of every sentence. However, getting too carried away with exclamation marks can give the impression that you're either a little emotional, slightly too enthusiastic... and even unprofessional.

A good tip is to write your email as you normally would, and then go back over and remove all of the exclamation marks and replace them with full stops. You can leave one or two in there if you wish (depending on the length of the email), but keep in mind that they should most definitely be used sparingly.

Be careful with humour.

As with a lot of these points, this one depends on who your audience is, however, humour, and similarly sarcasm, can be very difficult to portray in an email and can get very easily lost in translation. Your writing may not allow you to get the message, joke, or tone across in the same way as it would if you were having a face to face conversation or a phone call. A good idea would be to get someone else to read over your email first, completely without context, and ask them to decide whether or not the humour comes across successfully. If they're unsure, it's probably best to take it out and leave it for now.

Remember, nothing is confidential.

Don’t write anything in a work email that you wouldn’t want anyone in the company to read. Your work emails are work emails, and as a result, they could be requested to be seen by anyone at any point. You may be just having a bit of fun with your friendly colleague who sits next to you, but what happens if your boss, or someone on your management team, requests to see that email thread because it actually has some other information in there? Or, what happens if one of your emails are needed for evidence for a client dispute? Could you be confident that everything in there is 100% professional?

Also, remember that companies will often keep all emails sent and received by each employee on an internal server - even if you delete them from your own inbox, they'll still be there for someone to retrieve if they wish. So, just bear this in mind!

To emoji, or not to emoji?

Lastly, this is one of those that very much depends on your office culture, and it’s one that we’re going to have to leave a lot of the judgement up to you. If you’re emailing your work friend, who works on your team and you chat to regularly outside of work too, feel free to use as many emoji’s as you like. If you work in quite a relaxed office, the odd smiley face probably won’t go amiss either. However, if you’re in the depths of quite a corporate workplace, emailing clients or about something that is relatively important, we’d probably step away from the emoji keyboard and leave for another time.