Woman typing an email on a laptop

You don’t have to be an expert writer to compose an email. However, there are many things to consider when writing emails, especially for business communications. Here are several email etiquette rules to keep in mind for your professional messages.

The Email Fields

It may seem simple to fill out the fields for your email, but these tips may save you some embarrassment and help your recipients at the same time.

Double-Check Your Recipients’ Addresses

If you’ve ever sent an email to the wrong person because you relied on the “smart” suggestions from your email application, then you know how embarrassing it can be.

It takes only a minute to double-check the recipient’s name and email address. If you have an application that converts the email address to the recipient’s name for display purposes, simply click that arrow or hover your cursor over the name for a quick review.

Recipient's email address

Enter a Concise Subject Line

The subject line you include with your email should be succinct and meaningful. This allows your recipient to see exactly what the email is about at a glance. They may even read their emails in order of the content’s importance, which is where the subject line comes in.

Try to keep the subject line short but significant. Make it a concise summary of what your message includes.

Email subject line

Include CC and BCC When Warranted

Not every recipient of your message may belong on the To line. You can use the CC field to copy others who need the email as a reference or the BCC field to copy them but keep their email addresses private.

RELATED: What Do CC and BCC Mean in Emails?

Reserve the To field for those you’re directing the message to and any actions you require from them. For others who simply need to be aware of the message, whether you’re hiding their email addresses or not, use the CC and BCC lines instead.

CC and BCC fields in an email

The Message Body

Obviously, the body of the email is where you include your message. But there are a few tips to remember that can make or break that message.

Add a Greeting

Especially crucial when composing a business email is adding a greeting. Start your message appropriately with “Dear,” “Hello,” or something similar, followed by the recipient’s name.

There’s nothing that says “I’m in too much of a hurry to worry” than an email without a greeting.

Greeting in an email

Use an Easy-To-Read Font

While it’s tempting to switch your message font to something different or unique, it isn’t always the best option for the person actually reading the email.

RELATED: Stop Changing Your Email Font

Use a default font that’s easy to read like Arial or Times New Roman. Not only are these classic fonts standard for most email clients, but they are also simpler to read than a script and more professional than an overly casual option.

Email font settings in Outlook

Include a Signature

Similar to eliminating a greeting, not signing your email can come across as unprofessional. And with that closing, you should include the basic details your recipient would need.

Email signatures vary, but can include your full name, company, title, phone number, website, and links to social media. Whether you have all of those details in your signature or simply your name, be sure to add it to the end of your message.

Email signature

Tone and Professionalism

Along with the basics of filling out the email fields and composing the body of your message, consider your words. Do you want to use all caps to stress a point? Should you include a bit of sarcastic humor? Let’s take a deeper dive.

Be Cautious of Caps and Formatting

It can be tempting to use all caps, bold text, or an underline to emphasize your words. But too much of these in a message defeats the purpose and can convey an aggressive message.

Try to avoid all caps. You don’t want your recipient to feel as if you’re yelling at them. And use font formatting like bold, italics, and underline sparingly and only where necessary.

Email with bold, italics, underline, and caps

Keep Humor and Emoji to a Minimum

While most people enjoy a bit of humor now and then, it doesn’t always have a place in an email. Reason being, the recipient can’t see your body language or hear your snicker. In written communications, humor can come across as inappropriate or even offensive at times, even when you don’t mean it that way.

RELATED: How to Insert Emoji in Outlook Emails

Along with eliminating humor, try not to overuse emoji in your email. While a smiley or thumbs up can be beneficial in a chat or text message, they can convey an unprofessional tone in business emails.

Email with emoji and symbols

Add Necessary Attachments

We’ve all done it at least once. We tell the recipient we’re sending them a file and then forget to attach it. Take a moment before hitting Send to be sure you’ve included any necessary attachments.

Additionally, some email services like Gmail and Microsoft Outlook offer features to remind you of forgotten attachments. Take advantage of these helpful tools so you don’t have to follow up your email with another message containing the file and an apology.

Attachment reminder in Outlook

Courteous Communications

Some email etiquette rules aren’t set in stone, but can simply be courteous, considerate, and helpful.

Consider Concise Messages for Mobile

With more and more emails being viewed on mobile devices, take this into consideration when composing yours. Eliminate unnecessary words and get straight to the point. There’s nothing worse than opening an email full of text on your mobile phone that requires continuous scrolling.

Long email on iPhone

Schedule Sending During Business Hours

If you use the handy email scheduling feature many email clients offer, be considerate of when you schedule that delivery. Sending an email right at the end of the workday or even at midnight simply isn’t nice.

RELATED: How to Schedule An Email in Outlook

Try to schedule the emails for a workday and during business hours, unless you have a compelling reason not to do so.

Email schedule window in Mail on Mac

Shorten Lengthy URLs

One final tip for being courteous is regarding links you include in your emails. Similar to composing shorter messages for mobile viewers, you can do the same when including links. Consider using a URL shortener like Bitly or linking to text.

Rather than a link that takes up too much space in your message, you can reduce its size and still get the link to your recipient.

Long and short URL in emails

Hopefully some of these email etiquette rules are ones you plan to use for your own business messages moving forward. And if you do send a message you’d like to take back, check out how to recall an email in Outlook or how to unsend a message in Gmail.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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