I use email pretty much every hour of the day and feel like I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way that I would consider proper etiquette when sending messages. I thought I would share them with you here, in hopes that they help you develop good emailing habits or break a bad one you may not have realized you were doing!
Double-Check Before You Hit Send
Make sure you’re not sending an email about a sensitive or private matter that could accidentally get shared with the wrong people. If you would only discuss the issue behind closed doors, maybe email isn’t the best means of communication for this bit of information.
Don’t Email Angry
We’ve all been there, right? You get an email in your inbox and your fuse is lit! Your fingers fly across the board with just the perfect retort….but hold on. Feelings are like waves and soon they will crash. Make sure you take a beat (or a day or two) to respond to an email that gets your blood boiling. Your future self will thank you later.
Be Careful What Information You Give Out
We all like to think the best of people, but some scammers and other phishing emails are trying to steal your identity. Banks and credit card companies would never ask you to verify personal information like your Social Security number through email. When in doubt, reach out with a phone call to check that the email request is legit.
Send Attachments the Right Way
Sending attachments is pretty standard with emails. Just make sure you’re not sending huge files unless someone is expecting them. Remember to name the files logically so the receiver knows what the attachments are rather than having to guess what image456677.jpg is all about. Also, make sure you actually attach your intended attachments. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten and then have to do the shameful follow-up email to let people know my error.
To Reply All or Not to Reply All
It’s annoying when your inbox is cluttered with emails that really could have just gone to the sender, especially if all they say is thanks or got it. It’s a courtesy to make sure whoever you are replying to really needs to be informed of the information. If not, leave them out and save their inbox clutter.
Keep it Short and to the Point
Emails should not be as long as War and Peace, they should be concise and to the point. Make sure you have a clear call to action or question you need answered. Giving someone a deadline to have a response to you doesn’t hurt either.
Make sure your subject line gives the reader a preview of what your message is about. It’s also helpful to have a subject line for the receiver to search for the message later on if they need to reference it. Examples of good subject lines are Party time changed to 2PM on Saturday or Need your input on this design.
Your John Hancock (or if you’re a Tommy Boy fan, your Herbie Hancock)
Having an email signature that includes your name, phone, company, and other contact information is just good practice. This allows the receiver ample information if they need to pass your name along to someone else or to be able to contact you through other channels besides email.
This is the biggest thing I’m guilty of doing, but I love me some exclamation points. Sometimes email can seem a little void of emotion and an exclamation, to me, says hey look at me, I’m easy and breezy and so fun! But sometimes, too many exclamation points can make your message seem really emotional or unprofessional.
Greetings! Hey vs Hello vs Hiya Buddy
Okay, so another email faux pas I do is in regard to greetings at the beginning of messages. For some reason, I love to say howdy. For real, I use that more often than not as my standard greeting. I have no idea where it came from since I was born and raised in the Midwest, but apparently, my email-self is a ten-gallon, hat-wearing, cowboy. Standard greetings can be Hi or Hello or Dear. Tacking on the person’s name is always a nice way to be a little more personal, but don’t shorten or use a nickname unless you specifically know that person (not all Michaels go by Mike).
And there you have it! I hope these tips help a bit when you are emailing. If you are new to email, or just need a refresher on how to use your account, check out the Niles-Maine District Library YouTube Channel, where I go over all you need to know about Email Basics in this nifty video!