Top 10 email best practices

  1. Get to the point. If action is required, say so at the start of the email. Don’t tell a long story with the requested action at the end.
  2. Keep it short. Break up your text into short paragraphs or bullets. If there’s a shorter way to say it, use it. Remember what we already know—people get too many emails.
  3. Put important information in bold so it’s easier to scan. If you’ve addressed an email to several people with an action for certain person, bold that person’s name.
  4. Assume it’s public. If people want to read your email and share it with others, they will.
  5. Refrain from using colored text, background images, sounds, or animation. Your emails will be hard to read, difficult to reply to without converting to plain text, clog up email storage because of file size, and are just plain irritating.
  6. Proofread it and check your spelling. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m talking about” than misusing and misspelling words. Bad grammar can lead to confusion. Here’s a Grammar checker.
  7. Use Bcc: for group emails. When sending group emails, list the recipients in the Bcc: field. The recipient will get a copy of the email but the others are protected from the view of the other recipient – some of whom they may or may not know.
  8. Never expose your contact’s addresses to strangers. Long lists of email addresses at the beginning of an email is an immediate sign that the sender is either a novice or doesn’t care or respect other’s privacy.
  9. Do not type in all caps. Typing in all caps is yelling. Also, studies* have shown that it takes longer to read text typed in all caps. *More info on reading paper vs. online.
  10. Don’t send emails when you are angry. If you receive a nasty email, do not respond immediately—if at all. If you don’t have something constructive or nice to say or at the very least sternly professional, just hit delete.

Words of Advice
Think twice about adding an inspirational quote at the end of your emails, especially one with religious overtones. What is inspirational to you may not be inspirational to your recipient. Better safe than sorry.

Forwarding political, humorous, or religious emails has no place in business communication. Create a general message that you are not a forwarder of jokes or inspirational messages and you don’t open attachments in order to protect your computer. They’ll get the message.

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