Personal or telephonic communication has taken a back seat due to use of emails for the smallest communication or for circulating any crucial information. Today, business emails have become a routine in the work schedule.
Writing email is not difficult, but it is highly important to follow the email etiquette rules so that your email conveys the necessary information without any misunderstanding. Applying the basic mannerism will make your message professional and sincere. Remember, the business mails are different from your casual mails or forwards.
They should be precise, crisp, to the point, and easily understandable. A badly written mail hampers both the image of the individual sending it and the organization.
Rules to Follow
Also, don't use URGENT/IMPORTANT in the subject line or even in the body text. Use it only if it's really very urgent or important. This applies to the high priority option as well. If you use the option repeatedly, after a while, people will start ignoring your mails.
Before you start writing the mail, consider the reason for sending it. Jot down the points to be covered in the mail. Now, be concise and to the point while you write the mail and at the same time, make sure you don't miss any point.
Follow the same rule for the subject line, don't make it too long. Long mails filled with unnecessary information can be irritating and the reader may leave it in between.
Avoid Long Sentences
A sentence should be not more than 20 words. This will ensure better, easy and quick understanding of what you want to communicate.
Use the right spellings, punctuations, and grammar. Wrong use of these may not only affect the understanding of the receiver, as to what you want to communicate, but might also give a bad impression about your company. Use the spell check option, if available, and proofread it manually as well. Also, avoid using passive voice.
Never write the email text in CAPITALS. Doing so means that you are SHOUTING. This can lead to annoyance and unwanted responses or a flame mail too.
Abbreviations and Emoticons
Use only globally recognized abbreviations. Use of casual abbreviations like LOL (laugh out loud) or BTW (by the way) is not appropriate in business mails. Similarly, avoid emoticons like the smiley :-).
While formatting, be very careful. Remember, you want to have a simple looking email, not an attractive one. Avoid unnecessary use of colored fonts, highlights, various font styles and sizes, bold, italics, and underline options. If you use the color or highlight options, make sure that the text is easily visible.
The layout and structure of the mail is very important, especially when you have written a long mail. Make proper paragraphs according to the things to be discussed or communicated.
Keep the paragraphs short and keep a blank line between each paragraph. If you write point-wise, number the points. This system will help the receiver while replying about disagreement or changes in a particular point.
Take utmost care that any unnecessary file or image has not been attached by you. Also, if you need to attach one, make sure it is the right one and you are not attaching something else in a hurry.
Confirm whether the file and image format can be viewed at the receiver's end. Try to compress attachments and do not send large attachments; that may lead to a problem at the receiver's system.
Email signatures can be funny or interesting quotations, your name with your designation, company name, address, contact details, etc., but they must be brief and not more than five lines. Extra long signature lines take up more space than the message itself and seem to be irritating.
Make sure that you include all the business disclaimers recommended by your company. If you don't include one, it can land you or your company into legal problems.
Emails are Not For
Remember that your official email account should not be used for any personal communication. Also, don't use it to communicate confidential information and never include racially and sexually discriminating jokes or comments.
Don't forward mails containing such language or hoax emails, spam emails, and chain emails. You and your company might land in unnecessary trouble. Just delete them.
If you are replying to an email, you have to follow all the rules mentioned above. Some added points too need to be considered while doing so. Here's the list.
Email is generally sent to receive a quick response. If a quick response was not expected, it would have been in the form of a letter or a fax. Hence, each e-mail has to be replied at least within a duration of 24 hours after receiving it and preferably on the same working day.
If after reading the mail, you feel it is complicated or it needs to be discussed with your seniors, just send a reply saying that you have received the email and you will get back to them. This will give you some time to send the expected reply.
Don't Leave Out the Message Thread
The original email has to be included in your reply. So, it is better to click 'Reply' option instead of 'New / Compose Mail' option. Which will make It is easier for the recipient to go through the reply. A 'threadless email' does not provide enough information and the recipient may have to spend a long time finding the related email in the mail box.
Answer All the Questions
When you send an email reply, make sure that all the questions in the original email have been answered by you. If you don't answer some, you might end up getting another mail for those unanswered questions. Moreover, you can ask clarification in case you have some doubt with the questions, instead of simply skipping it.
Reply to All
Use 'Reply to All' option only when you want all the original email recipients to see your reply.
The Cc Field
Use the 'cc' field only if the recipients in the 'cc' field know the reason why they are receiving a copy of your message, or if you want them to be aware of the conversation or information sent. Using the 'cc' field unnecessarily can confuse the recipients.
While sending a reply to a 'cc' message, if individual responses are expected by the sender, or if you don't want your response to be read by others in 'cc' field, then just don't use the 'cc' field. Use 'cc' only if you want to send a copy of your reply to the sender, to other individuals as well.
The Bcc Field
Do not place all the email addresses in the 'To' field while sending an email to a mailing list. This has two reasons. Firstly, each recipient will know that you have sent the same message to many people and secondly, you are making available one's address to the other without their permission. So, better place all the addresses in the 'bcc' field.
However, the recipient will only see the address in 'From' field and 'To' field in their email. Don't use the 'bcc' field when not required. For example, if the communicating email demands that a large number of people of the same organization needs to get that information, then you can surely avoid using the 'bcc' field.
Read Before You Hit 'Send'
Though you are confident about your language and feel you have followed all the rules, minute mistakes can still remain in your email. So, read it once again before you hit the 'send' button. Check whether you have attached the files required and also mentioned about them.
Following the rules will help you to send an effective message. It ensures that no misunderstandings and mistakes are created that may result into inappropriate comments for you. A simple mistake might lead to a big problem in email communication. So, always check and recheck, be sure and only then hit the 'send' button.