Emailing Do’s and Don’t’s

Emails were designed to be quick, simple and clear. Are yours?

It might be time to ask yourself if your emails are sending the wrong message.

Have you ever sent an email in the heat of the moment? Or received an email so long that you stopped reading it halfway through? Avoid unwittingly annoying your colleagues or clients by following these rules of email etiquette.


1. Pay attention to the subject line. Avoid general words like ‘Hi’, ‘FYI’ or ‘Touching Base’, and instead write a clear concise subject line that reflects the body of the email, such as ‘Meeting date changed’.

2. Limit your emails to a few short paragraphs. “If you routinely send long, wordy emails, it’s likely that some of your recipients will start tuning out,” says workplace adviser and consultant Alison Green, author of the blog Ask a Manager. “If you need to communicate a large amount of information, email probably isn’t the way to do it.”

3. Make it clear what you’d like the recipient to do. Most of us receive an enormous number of emails, so help the recipient know exactly what you want them to do, says Green. Do you need information or input? Do you want them to take a particular action? Or are you just updating them, so you don’t require any action?


1. Hit “Reply all”. Unless the whole group needs to read your response – such as an ongoing group discussion – avoid using ‘Reply All’ advises Green. “More than 20 years after email came into popular use, offices are still battling epic reply-all failures that flood people’s mailboxes,” she says.

2. Use lots of CAPS and exclamation marks!! Using capital letters can be intimidating to the recipient, as it sounds like you’re yelling, while lots of exclamation marks at the end of sentences can come across as overly emotional or immature.

3. Get angry or snarky in an email. Email isn’t well suited to conflict, as it’s easy for your tone to come across much more harshly than it would in person, says Green. If you sense yourself becoming frustrated, it’s best that you back away from your email and have a real conservation.