Email etiquette: Tips for professionalism

Email etiquette: Tips for professionalism by Vickie Hicks, Missouri State University.  Available from <> [Published 8:00 p.m. CT Sept. 2, 2017]

Email is now a part of our daily lives.  A typical working professional sees an average of 88 emails a day. However, is anyone teaching the do’s and don’ts of email etiquette? Small mistakes can make a big difference in how your message is received. Here are some tips on how to be more professional when sending email.

Email and texting are not the same forms of communication.  Texts are meant to be brief and can be full of expression and abbreviations such as LOL, BTW, etc.  Email should be more professional.   Email should not contain excessive exclamation points, icons or text speak.  Instead, email should use complete sentences, capitalization and formality.

If you are responding to an important email, do so on a laptop or desktop computer instead of your phone.  We tend to communicate more casually on our phones and therefore do not pay as much attention to writing professionally and to correct spelling.

Start with a greeting such as “Hi”, “Dear”, or “Good morning”.  Do not use “hey.”

Always spell the person’s name correctly.  Especially if they have given you a business card or you are replying to their message with their name listed in their signature below.  It shows respect and attention to detail.

My personal rule is not to start the body of any email with “I”.  Try to take the focus off yourself and instead put the focus on the person you are writing.

 If you have an important email to write, draft the subject line and the body of the email before adding the person’s email address.  This way you can make sure it is perfect before you hit send.

Be concise.  Write your email and then review to look for shorter ways to express what you want to say.  Do not overload an email with too many action items.

Do not rely solely on the spell check feature in email.  Be sure to read your email before sending.  Spell check does not always catch small errors that could make a big difference.

Do not send an angry email.  Remember, email can be forwarded and can live forever.  If you are angry with someone, draft the email without filling in the address, then save it and wait 24 hours.  A kinder gentler you will prevail.   Better yet, go have a face-to-face conversation instead.

Check your email tone.  It is difficult to read tone in an email but some words can come across as angry.  Instead, always be polite.  Take a moment to re-read your email and make sure you are coming across professionally.

Watch the “reply all” feature.  Does your reply really need to go to everyone in the group?  Check to make sure it not the default setting if you are using Office 365.

Email etiquette: Tips for professionalism by Vickie Hicks, Missouri State University.  Available from <> [Published 8:00 p.m. CT Sept. 2, 2017]