email etiquette for business

Top Email Etiquette for Business Communication

For how many decades now, since the advent of electronic communication, emails have become one of the best ways to distribute messages with efficiency. Emailing is one of the most popular ways to convey messages. It has even been applied to substitute for the old post mail for both personal and business communications.

Casually writing to friends and family is one thing, whereas business communication is another. There are several things you need to be particular about and several email etiquette for business that you need to observe.

Choose an appropriate email address

Remember those glory days when you used to be pinkprincess22 or death_mutant07? Hate to break it to you, but those days are long over. When delivering business communication, it is vital to have a sense of dignity and respect towards the sender if you want them to take you seriously.

It is impossible to do that with an unprofessional looking email address. That’s because your address is one of the first things they see upon receipt of your message. Your address, much like your appearance, should portray formality.

To be able to achieve this, your address should contain your name. While this may be difficult if you have a common name, you can play around with it and use some of the allowed punctuation marks like periods and hyphens. 

Use formal salutations

While you might be on “hey” terms with Joey in the office next door, it might not look so good when you’re addressing him via email for a formal business concern. The standard “dear” is still a classic bet, but if you feel a bit iffy calling your pal Joey “dear,” you can settle for a safe “hi” or “hello.”

The reason for this seemingly uppity rule in business emails is that your communication is an official business transaction. As a consequence, you should prepare for circumstances where this communication is possibly going to be reviewed or forwarded to management or other departments.

Knowing about formal salutations, you should understand that you would want to be as formal and as proper as is minimally required to at least be acceptable for your boss to see.  

Avoid the “reply all” button

Company-wide emails pop up now and then. These usually broadcast new updates or announcements. If it concerns you and you feel the need to reply to the sender, or if you want the sender to know that the message is duly noted, make it a point to avoid hitting “reply all” at all costs. That is unless your reply is going to be useful for everyone in the company.

Receiving and reading through emails takes a lot of time. Having to go through emails that are irrelevant and not intended for the recipient is a waste of precious working hours. Therefore, useless emails are bad for business.

Business email etiquette mandates that you only send emails to those whom you wish to read your message. That means replying to company emails to the sender alone and not the entire office.

Font choices

It may seem tempting to use a hot pink or purple Comic Sans, or that fancy-looking cursive to stand out from the other emails. However, trust that it would not leave a good impression of you towards the recipient.

Formal emails that observe email etiquette for business are as plain as possible in terms of font style. That is because plain text is easier for most, if not all, to read and understand. Plain non-serifed font styles such as Arial and Calibri are your best bets.

Skimp on exclamation points

You could definitely get excited about your new company development. However, it’s no excuse to slather exclamations all over your business email. You wouldn’t want to sound like a preppy cheerleader when messaging your boss. 

When complying with email etiquette for business, it is essential to keep things simple, formal, factual, and easy to understand. Nobody wants to waste their time and energy sifting through an over-excited email just to get to the gist of things.

email notification

Brevity equals respect

As if we haven’t stressed enough how vital and precious time is in business, you should know to keep your emails short and straight to the point. Nobody wants to waste their time reading through your whole life story just to get to that one request you were trying to get across.

One of the simplest email etiquette for business is email brevity. In this day and age where almost any information is just a few seconds away, a vast attention span is quite hard to get by. If you beat around the bush, chances are, you’ll lose your reader’s interest in a matter of seconds, and your message will likely get lost in the woods.

Recognize cultural communication differences

There are several instances within an office where a multicultural population exists. This mix might entail some sensitivity and heightened awareness of who you are trying to email.

Some cultures prefer getting down to business right in the first email, while others may think that this approach is too blunt and impolite. Some cultures may want to get to know who they are transacting with at first, while others may feel that this is a waste of time.

Make your own signature block

While it may just look like some fancy personalized addition at the bottom of your emails, you should never underestimate the value of signature blocks. First and foremost, it gives your emails a professional image and identity. It lets your recipient feel and know that the email they are reading is legitimate. 

Other advantages can also spring from the fact that your signature block is also like a virtual business card that you can purpose for branding. You can use it for contacts as well if you link your numbers and social or business accounts to it.

Proofread your email content

If you want to convey an image of professionalism, you would want your content to be as pristine as possible. You want it to be free of misspellings and grammatical errors that will put off your recipient. Despite all that, you should still want your message to sound as natural as possible. Your reader should know and feel that he is dealing with an actual person and not a robot.

A few more words of advice:

  • Add the recipient last. Avoid sending an unfinished email or sending it to the wrong person.
  • Read it aloud. If it sounds angry to you, chances are you will come off as angry with the one who receives it.
  • Remember that every electronic message leaves a trail. Keep it as simple and as official as possible. Avoid bad language or information at all costs.

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About The Author

Vanessa R.

Vanessa R.

Vanessa has been a freelance writer for eight years, providing content independently and through various online platforms. Having worn many hats—a former student journalist, a registered nurse, an aspiring mom-blogger, plus six years of pharmaceutical sales experience under her belt, she adopts a broad range of approaches to tackling different subjects in personal and professional development. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing her two rowdy boys around the house.