Business Email Etiquette in the Workplace

Our Business Email Etiquette Video Program Covers:

1. DO NOT SHARE SENSITIVE OR CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. There is no guarantee that this information will not be shared with the wrong parties.

2. THINK BEFORE YOU SEND. Is email the best method of communication for a discussion with your co-workers or employees under your supervision?

3. MAINTAIN RESPECT. Set the right professional tone to your business emails and always include a salutation and courteous conclusion.

4. BE AWARE OF WHO YOU INCLUDE AND EXCLUDE. Using Carbon Copy (cc), Blind Carbon Copy (bcc), and Reply All are helpful tools when used effectively.

5. USE THE HIGH PRIORITY FLAG WITH DISCRETION. Only mark your message “high priority” if it really is urgent. Be direct about what you need and the outcome if you don’t receive the information by a certain date.

6. PROOFREAD FOR SPELLING, GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION. Poor spelling and grammar sends the message that you are careless and unprofessional. Don’t rely on spell-checkers.

7. NEVER SEND LARGE ATTACHMENTS WITHOUT WARNING. Do not send attachments over 2MB unless they have been requested. For sending several attachments zip the files to manage file size.

8. MAINTAIN PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOUR ON THE JOB. How you use your employer’s technology is a serious matter. Refrain from sending non-business related emails, jokes, forwards or chain mail as this reflects a lack of professionalism.

9. DO NOT SHORTEN WORDS OR USE NUMBERS FOR WORDS. Email is not a text and should not be treated so informally.

10. WATCH YOUR EMOTIONS. Never send or reply to an email when you are angry or upset. Address your concerns with your supervisor.

To add to team productivity, choose your words carefully to avoid ambiguity and misinterpretation. The more precise you are upfront, the less likely you will see subsequent emails generating confusion and asking follow-up questions seeking additional clarity. When there is a misunderstanding by email, don’t hesitate to pick up the telephone to work things out.

Be sure to include a subject line in your message and make it clear so the recipient can tell at a glance what the message is about. If you are replying to someone else’s email that was sent to more than one person, double check the recipients on the “To” line to make sure that you have not selected “Reply All” if your response does not need to go to everyone. Never use an old email to hit “Reply” and start typing an entirely new topic.

Be cautious when forwarding someone else’s attachments – they might be too large to download causing the receiver’s Inbox to reject subsequent business correspondence, or contain viruses. Only send attachments that are necessary for others to receive after checking them on your computer. Remember that sending personal stories, poems and anecdotes are not acceptable in the workplace, and they too can often contain viruses!

Save long conversations for the telephone.

Keep your signature file to no more than five to six lines. Limit your signature to your name, job title, business name and address, and telephone contact information. If adding your organization’s website link, do not forget to include the full email URL.

Pay attention when typing a name from your address book in the “To:” line. It is easy to select the wrong name, which can be very embarrassing to you and the person who receives your email by mistake.

Do your best to respond to your business emails as promptly as possible. If this is not possible, respond within 12-24 hours. By responding in a timely manner, you exhibit that you are efficient, organized and respectful.

Always end your emails with “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” or “Best Regards.” Formality is in place as a courtesy and reflects the proper respect to the recipient. Think of your business email as though it was written on the organization’s letterhead and you will never go wrong.

Lastly, make sure that your out of office notification is current. You should include the dates of your absence, and the person to contact if any issues arise during your absence.

Email has become an essential resource for remote communication with many benefits. It can facilitate an immediate response from a coworker or allow an individual to communicate with many people at the same time. It also provides an electronic or paper trail of communication for future reference.

While email is a useful tool, there are also some pitfalls with this form of communication. Tone can be difficult to convey to your coworkers and messages can sometimes be misinterpreted.

Recipients are unable to see facial expressions or hear verbal inflections that typically imply tone. Once a message is delivered, you are unable to see the reaction of the recipient and adjust your message accordingly.

While email is a simple method for communicating, getting the correct message across can be more of a challenge.

Be sure to always present yourself as polite, courteous and respectful when sending a workplace email.

As employees, we need to consider the impact of our words and actions on others. Many of us have experienced emails or have received a message that has been sent hastily, without considering the risk of misinterpretation or misunderstanding. It is important to indicate precisely what we mean to say when using email and to be aware of our tone and volume, to remain open-minded and respectful even in disagreement.

Poor writing and presentation choices can also impact an email message. It is important to use complete sentences and to proofread carefully. In a professional setting, email should not be treated as an informal means of communication.


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Sample Business Email

Here is a short example of an email from a supervisor to staff
that is well-written, clear and polite.

As a staff member receiving this email, you are likely to feel
valued and respected based on the introduction and language
used throughout the email. The subject line is not ambiguous
and it clearly states the intent of the email.

Subject: Meeting Cancelled for February 29th, 2022

Good Morning Staff:

My apologies, however, due to unforeseen circumstances, the meeting scheduled for February 29th, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date in March. An email will be sent later this week with the date, time and location.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Joan Smith
Manager, Sales Team
ABC Company

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