Business E-mail Etiquette – Business & Social Etiquette Blog

E-mail etiquette helps to make the sending and receiving of e-mails a more pleasant experience. It does not matter who you are or what your qualifications are, if you send an email using bad grammar and spelling the probability is that the receiver will make a poor judgment of you.

I frequently receive e-mails from graduates asking if I can give them a placement. They start the e-mail  with “Hi” without a name for me and end with their name without using any protocol for signing off the email.

Your e-mail will be a lot more likely to have your desired effect if you adhere to the accepted protocol for the nature of the e-mail you are sending.

Below are just a few tips for good practice when sending e-mails .

Subject Line
  • You always put the purpose of the e-mail in the subject line.
  • Make this no more than a few words to capture the content of the email.
  • For instance: “Team Meeting 10/10/12” or “The e-mail etiquette Meeting”
Starting your e-mail formal salutations
  • Always use an appropriate salutation
  • If you have not or had any previous communications with the person begin your email with “Dear Mr Smith,” or “Dear Ms Smith,”
  • Do not assume a woman’s marital status.
  • Use “Ms” as the feminine equivalent to the masculine “Mr.”
  • The exception to this would be when a person uses “Mrs.” or “Miss” for herself.
  • Do not use Mr., Mrs., or Miss to refer to yourself.
  • If you do not know the name or the sex of the person “Dear Sir or Madam,” is appropriate.
The body of your e-mail
  • Keep the content of your e-mail short if possible, e-mail etiquette is polite and to the point. Your first sentence should tell the reader what your e-mail is about.
  • Use simple, direct English and avoid using jargon; this is especially important if you are writing to someone whose first language is not English.
  • If you are making a number of points start each one on a new line with a space between lines.
  • Always remember that e-mails can be “forwarded” to other people, so only ever put in an e-mail what you would be happy for other people to read.
  • Read through your e-mail to check for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Always use the spell check before sending.
Signing off your e-mail

The e-mail etiquette when signing off a formal email to someone you have not yet met is to sign off with – Yours sincerely, Best Wishes or Kind Regards. It is not appropriate for business e-mails to be signed off with affectionate terms such as Yours Truly, love or xx’s.

How you write your name will depend on the level of formality and whether you know the person or not. The e-mail etiquette for contacting someone for the first time is to include your first and last name. It is better to continue to use both names unless the level of formality relaxes. After this when sending subsequent e-mails it becomes no longer necessary to use both names and your first name will be appropriate.

About the author

Ellen is our Business & Social Etiquette Blogger. You can reach Ellen on: Etiquette and Manners, Facebook, Linked In

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