Tips for writing effective e-mails

Many people are unaware of the protocol required for writing successful e-mails. Below is a list of useful tips which you can integrate into your e-mail writing.
“Out of Office” Message

If you are not going to be around for a while because you are taking a short break always leave an “out of office” message. This can usually be found in the settings menu of your e-mail provider. It is useful to say in your message when you will return and if necessary when you are likely to be responding to any e-mails.

If you are leaving the company,  let other people know you are “out of office” permanently.  If someone else is taking over your duties you could include their details in your message.

International business by e-mail

If you have not met someone and the only form of correspondence you have with them is through e-mail, the recipient of your e-mail will be forming an impression about you depending on your correspondence.

It is good practice when conducting business internationally to keep the same standards you would use to write a formal letter.  Start your e-mail with a formal salutation. For instance, “Dear Sir/Madam”, or the persons full name that is, “Dear Ms Carol Johnson”. When singing off the e-mail use an auto-signature at the bottom which includes your name, job title,  telephone number and other contact details include any business logo if appropriate. Make sure you use the country code when giving your contact details.  For the UK it would be +44 (0)……. Also give your full postal address – including your post code and your UK country  either England, Scotland or Wales ending with the United Kingdom.

Group e-mail

When writing an e-mail there is some disagreement regarding the capitalisation of the word following the first word.  For instance, “Dear all/All” or “Dear colleague/Colleague”. Both are in frequent use. However since they are not proper names or titles it is not necessary to capitalise these words.

Therefore when sending an e-mail to a group of people, “Dear managers”, “Dear colleagues”, “Dear customers”, is fine.

If the e-mail is less formal “Hello everyone,” or “Hi all” is perfectly fine.

When you send an e-mail to a group of people, sometimes it is fine to have everyone’s e-mail address showing if it is a group where that would be acceptable to everyone.

However sometimes it is not appropriate to have everyone else’s e-mail address showing. This could also be a breach of confidentiality in some situations. Therefore do not put all the names in the “To field” or CC everyone into the e-mail. This will reveal everyone’s e-mail address to everyone else.

Put yourself in the “To field” and everyone else in the “BCC field”. This is a blind carbon copy. This prevents  the recipients from seeing who else you sent the message to. That way both “Reply” and “Reply All” will only come back to you and recipients can’t see each other’s e-mail addresses.

Reply to All

Don’t automatically click “reply to all” if only one or two people need to read an e-mail you are sending back. Only send the e-mail to the people who need to read it. When you do click reply to all, every e-mail address you are sending the e-mail to will show up in the “To field”.

For more information visit my website at The courses are also certified for continued professional development (CPD) if required.

Good Luck


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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1 Response
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