10 Steps to Writing a More Professional Email

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Tips for sending a professional emailWe have another helpful post from our friends at Savvy Sugar. Check it out:

How you write a work email isn’t going to make or break your career (well, in most cases). But your email etiquette can affect how seriously you’re taken, and even how well you’re liked, in the workplace. Read on for ten things to keep in mind before hitting send.

1. Check (and Double Check) the Recipient List

Is there anything worse than realizing you’ve just forwarded your co-worker’s email—with commentary—back to your co-worker herself? Always double-check the name(s) in the “To” field to make sure your email doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

2. Make a Little Small Talk

Keep it short and sincere, but remember that a few niceties in an email can go a long way. It doesn’t take much time to throw in a comment about the weather or a “Have a great weekend,” and it could make your email that much more well-received.

3. Proofread Yourself

Nothing says “You’re not worth my time,” to your recipients like a typo-ridden email. Do the courteous and professional thing and give your email a once-over (or two) before sending.

4. Get a Second Pair of Eyes

Asking your spouse or roommate to look over every work email you send is impractical. But when you’re composing an important or sensitive email, ask someone you trust to take a look and make sure nothing jumps out at them.

5. Keep It Succinct

Work email does not equal the great American novel. If the topic you’re emailing about is so complicated that it requires more than a few paragraphs, it’s probably better to discuss it in person or over the phone.

6. Give the Email a Clear Subject

Rather than asking your boss a time-sensitive question in an email titled “Re: no subject,” give your email a subject line that fits the content. It’s less likely to get lost in the inbox shuffle, and it will be easier for the recipients to refer back to later.

7. Attach Relevant Information

If your email refers to a specific document, be sure to include it as an attachment so you don’t leave any recipients in the dark.

8. Learn the Subtle Art of CC and BCC

CCing your boss on an email about a co-worker’s screw-up sends a clear message to your co-worker, while BCCing can be a good way to loop other people in on a topic without upsetting the main recipient.

9. Easy on the Punctuation …

Multiple exclamation points and question marks will make your email sound frantic and harried. One piece of punctuation per sentence tends to be enough to get your point across.

10. … and Emoticons

Same goes for emoticons—a smiley face here and there can warm up an email, but using one to punctuate every sentence can come off as unprofessional and insincere.

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  • Vicki

    I’m notorious for forgetting to actually attach the attachments! So the new thing I started doing is as soon as I type the word “attached” in the email (ex. “I’ve attached the TPS report”) I stop typing and go attach the document. That way there’s no risk of forgetting to attach it. It avoids your boss sending the awkward email “The attachement didn’t come through” when we all know attachements come through, you just didn’t attach it!

    • Jess

      If you use Gmail, they have a Lab that reminds you if they think you forgot to attach your attachment. I think it goes through your email and looks for words like ‘attach’ or ‘enclosed’, and it notifies you before you send out your email. I forget to attach things all the time, and this helps me a lot haha.

  • Rowena

    Thanks a lot for the 10 Steps to Writing a More Professional Email. This is very helpful for a newbie like me.

  • Just Jill

    Great advice! So many advise to keep the email so professional, it’s boring and impersonal. I have had much more success following rules like these :)