Dear John.

Things have really changed through the decades of message delivery. From the short stint with the Pony Express in the late 1800s to today’s standards of near instant delivery to anywhere in the world…with an internet connection of course. Yet, another important part of messaging has quickly fallen apart as we become less likely to slow down during our busy schedules. How to write a proper email.

Pony Express circa 1860

Pony Express circa 1860

How to write a proper email

Real quick, I will go over seven rules of common email etiquette.

  1. Learn to use the To:, Cc:, and Bcc: properly.  If the email is directed for one person, place their email address in the To: field and if you want anyone else who is indirect (FYI-ers), place their email addresses in the Cc: field. Since the Bcc: is unethical, avoid using it.
  2. Why would you reply to all..all of the time? If you receive an email that was also addressed to several people, do not hit the ‘Reply to All’ button unless the reply contains information necessary for all parties to read. If everyone starts clicking the ‘Reply to All’ button, quickly over a hundred emails will be sent essentially to the wrong people.
  3. Do not act like the key got stuck. Meaning, if you are typing a message of great importance, you do not need to finish it off with a string of exclamation points. If it is so important, convey it in the message and not the punctuation.
  4. Drop the pretty. Not only for the reason that fancy fonts and pretty colors can be annoying when reading an email, especially on a professional level, but because not all email clients will display those pretty little additives in the same way as your email client. That, of course, is a recipe for a messy unprofessional disaster. Stick with plain text emails.
  5. Just because you know exactly what your email is about, don’t assume the person you are send it to will have any clue what you are talking about. I think that this mostly applied to emails with questions. Give as many details as you can about the problem you are having or the answer you are trying to seek. If you are sending an email, you are probably hoping for a quick answer and if you aren’t offering enough details for someone to help you then you can expect another round of emails as they try to figure out what exactly you are asking.
  6. Sign by the X. From my experience, I have learned that signatures are one of three things. Annoying with pictures, colors, and formatting (See rule #4). Stock full on to much information. Or just plain empty and unreliable. Choose a happy medium when creating your “sign off”. Be professional and type out your first and last name. On a business level, sometimes it’s just nice to know the last name of the person you are conversing with, rather than just Bob or Mike. Beneath your name, give some basic contact information that may be needed by the recipient. Examples of this may be your email address, phone numbers, fax numbers, website address, and/or company address. Why would you put your email address if it is already in the From: field? If someone forwards your email to a coworker, friend, or family and then they need to find your email address, it will be easier to find it in your signature rather than the email headers which can be complicated to understand for a novice.
  7. Finally, if you are sending emails you probably at least have a 3rd grade education. Therefore, you have no excuse to type like you don’t have one. Everyone understands that no one has perfect grammar and that mistakes can and will be made while typing a quick email. At least try your best. I have far from perfect grammar but I try my best to deliver a professional and readable message to the receiver. It’s as simple as using capital letters when starting sentences and on proper nouns, hitting the period after complete sentences, and separating different thoughts until their own paragraphs.

About Clifton Hatfield

Clifton is the kind of guy that can read code better than he can read a book and prefers it that way. He likes cold pizza, moving sidewalks, and Indiana Jones. Clifton co-founded Internet Lifestyle Network from his home office in 2012 and he believes that true leadership is to inspire.

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Emerita Rydzewski
Emerita Rydzewski

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