The Unwritten Rules of Email

Some may say that email etiquettecommunicating has unwritten rules. This goes for texting, face-to-face conversation, and most definitely email. In fact, emailing is the most important because it connects you to your professional network. Face it, you use your email mainly, if not only, for work and online shopping. The only difference is that you don’t respond to online retail emails!

How you communicate says a lot about your professional persona. Emailing is the most popular and frequent form of communication in the workplace, so learning the correct etiquette will help you tremendously. For people with autism, it can make communicating with co-workers, clients, and bosses a more comfortable situation. Email can also be beneficial because it helps you visualize information and have a written record of tasks and to-dos.

All in all, you might depend on your email for work, so it is important to learn how to do it well. Nobody likes the “Reply-All” all the time, emoji obsessed, SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS, overly verbose, gr8t 2 c u emailer. Learn how to be professional with these seven unwritten rules of emailing at work.

  1. Start Solidly

You should start your emails with two things: an informative subject line and friendly greeting. This will help set the tone for what you’re about to say. The subject line will state your business, while your greeting will give the recipient positive vibes. With this, keep in mind to try to be friendly in your emails. There’s no reason to sound grouchy.

  1. Be Brief

An email should not be a novel about what you did yesterday or what you’re craving for lunch. The email should have a point and that point should be concise. One way you can be as pertinent as possible is to create a new paragraph for each point you address or use bullet points. This way, you are not spending time or wasting unnecessary words.

The e-mail below is an example of an effective opening and concise language.


  1. Graze Grammar

Pay attention to this. Grammar may seem irrelevant these days, but it is not. Check your spelling. If you have many mistakes, it reflects poorly on you.  

  1. Acknowledge and Address

When replying to an email, acknowledge the email and address every question or point brought up by the sender. You acknowledge, primarily, by thanking them. Then, you dive into the body of the email. It helps to look at each line and as you reply, re-read the email and pause after every new question/point. Go ahead and address it in the moment.

After the above email about the project feedback, Jack sends his response addressing James’s questions. In the following email, James acknowledges the reply from Jack and addresses each issue brought to attention.

James Bond007Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)999 Skyfall St.London, England 12345111-222-3333

  1. Respond Rapidly

Just like a first date, it is not polite to keep the other person waiting. Not only is it better for the recipient, but you also benefit. It will keep you from procrastinating and letting your inbox pile up. It keeps your life a little more organized. If the email is from an internal coworker, try to respond within 3 hours. If they are external, it is polite to respond within the work day or at most 24 hours.

  1. Wise Words

The key thing here is the word “word.” Txting lingo might b kool but not gr8 4 wrk. You are smart, so show off all your knowledge by using your vocabulary. Make your teachers proud.

Along with this, make sure not to overuse caps. Caps are great for emphasis, but they can also make it look like you are yelling. Try to dial back your excitement.

Lastly, try not to make too many jokes over email. Humor and sarcasm can be difficult to read when it isn’t spoken. I know, I know, you are hilarious, but wait until you see them to tell them why the chicken crossed the road.

  1. Sign Smartly

The way you end an email will be the way the recipient will remember you. It is smart to customize your signature. For example, your signature should have your name, company, position, and contact information. It looks official and clean.

If you are responding from a phone, please, please, please take out the line that tells the world you sent the message from your iPhone! It may be true, which is totally okay, but it is distracting. Just take a second to delete it.

In the e-mail example above, you will see how James has his signature at the bottom. He has all the credentials: title, organization, address, and phone number. These are the key things to have in your signature.

P.S. It was not sent from his iPhone (that we know of).

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