Email Etiquette and Email Content Guidelines

Email is a key way to communicate with colleagues and customers. We spend hours composing, sending, and reading emails. Sending poorly worded emails to the wrong people can result in confusion, wasted time and resources.

If you have ever witnessed a “reply all” storm, you know that email can distract you from your work and slow down productivity when misused. The following are guidelines for a clearer communication experience.

Email has four parts:
1.    Recipients–only write to people who need to know the information
2.    Subjects–should be clear and descriptive
3.    Message–is short, compelling, and gets to the point quickly
4.    Signature–follows the corporate design guidelines

Email Etiquette and Email Content Guidelines

  1. Keep your mails short and to the point. This is considerate to recipients overloaded with email. An interesting challenge is to keep your mails to just five sentences or less.
  2. Only write to persons who have a need to know the information. Do not copy persons unless there is a reason. Do not reply to all persons on a mail you receive unless they each need to see the response.
  3. Make your subject line descriptive. The recipient should be able to tell what the message is about and what action is required from the subject line. Examples include: FYI Only, or Update on Topic X, or For Decision Project Y, or Input Required on Matter Z.
  4. Structure your mails using bullet points and section headings if needed (e.g., background, importance/benefit, request, due dates).
  5. Avoid writing emotional emails. Emotions make for difficult mails. Always pause and consider before sending mails, especially when you feel strongly. It is best to wait a few hours or even a day if needed, to cool down before sending an emotional email. See tips in Mindful E-Mailing.
  6. Mails generate mails. Consider not sending a mail at all, and instead, call the person if you want action.

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