The first email to be ever sent was in 1971. Over the decades, emailing has become the primary medium for professional communication. Even though on-the-go messaging services have taken over our lives, emails are still our go-to tool for formal communication. People working in jobs that involve client communication cannot deny the importance of writing good emails and the email etiquette that goes along with it. Writing clear and concise emails is a skill that anybody can develop but to sound like a well-rounded gentleman, email etiquette are a must. Just like learning any skill, there are things that one should be aware of doing and not doing when writing an email. To help you write better emails, here is an easy guide that you can use to take your email writing skills to the next level.
Before we learn to write emails, let’s understand the structure of an email and what each part of an email means. Let’s use Gmail as an example as it is the most preferred platform for sending and receiving emails.
You’ll usually be writing an email in a small window called composer. Composer is where you add the subject line, the recipient address(es), the message, attachment if required, and a signature.
Refer to the image below to understand the different features of the Gmail composer:
Now that you know the various aspects of the composer. Let’s now look at the meat and potatoes of email etiquette.
Your subject line should be short but precise to the main message. It’s okay to spend some time coming up with an engaging subject line. For instance, if you’re writing an email on delivering a physics assignment by next week, an apt subject line could be just “Physics Assignment Delivery Update.” You can mention the delivery date in the main body of an email.
Avoid writing subject lines longer than 6-8 words. Longer subject lines are boring and defeat the purpose of the email body, where you should communicate the most. Use the subject line to give an overview of the main body of the email.
Avoid using emojis and exclamation marks unless you’re writing to someone celebrating a special occasion.
To, CC, and BCC
The recipient’s email address is input in the ‘To’ field of the composer. Always ensure that you only input the direct recipient’s email address. If other people should also have visibility into the email, just add them into the CC field. For example, if you’re writing an email to your boss and want your teammates to see the email. Your boss’ email address will be in the ‘To’ field, and your teammates’ email address will go in the CC field.
CC and BCC correspond to Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy, respectively. Back in the day, when writing a letter, people would use a carbon sheet to save a copy of a letter or invoice they drafted. While carbon copy in emailing serves a different purpose, the feature is quite nifty. As you read earlier, adding email addresses to the CC field allows other people to view the emails you send, but email addresses added to BCC cannot be seen by the recipient and those in CC.
If you’re to send an email to multiple people, never add everybody to the ‘To’ field. Evaluate thoroughly and add people appropriately to the ‘To’, ‘CC’, and ‘BCC’ sections.
The email body is the heart of your email. It is where the essential details of your email lie, such as dates, action plans, communication, etc. However, it is critical to write an email body that looks and sounds professional. To begin with, understand if you’re writing a formal or informal email. A formal email is generally written while communicating with clients, officemates, support executives, or schoolmates. An informal email is typically written to a friend, spouse, or family. This article will explore writing formal emails and leave it to you to learn writing informal emails.
When writing an email body, always begin with a greeting or salutation and the recipient’s first name. In case the email is addressed to multiple people, you can address them by saying, “Good Day All”, “Happy Monday Everybody”, “Hello Gentlemen”, etc.
Some commonly used greetings include:
- Good Day
- Good Morning
- Happy Monday (or any other week of the day)
- I hope You Had a Good Weekend (used in the following line after addressing the recipient with a salutation and if the email is sent after a weekend)
Next up, you’ll be jumping straight to the topic at hand and keeping your communication concise and to the point. Let’s assume you’re writing an email to your boss asking for a leave. Here are the main things that you should keep in mind before writing such an email:
- Begin with a salutation and greeting
- Mention the dates you’ll be taking leaves on
- Mention the reason
- State when you’ll be back to work
- Lastly, finish with a closing, such as Thank You or Regards
Speaking of closings, here are some of the commonly used closings:
- Thank you
- Thanks & Regards
- Best Regards
- Warm Regards
Now, let us looks at a sample email body for this scenario:
Hello (first name),
I hope you’re having a great day,
I am writing to request leave on (day & date) as I’ll be traveling to pick my parents from the airport. I will be back to work effectively from (day & date).
An email signature lets the recipient know who the email’s sender is. An email signature contains the following elements:
- Your name
- Your job title or designation
- Your phone number
- Your company’s website and logo (if applicable)
You can have a predefined signature(s) in Gmail or other email clients. Email signatures can be formed using text or attaching an image. There are benefits of having an image in your email signature as you can have your picture in the signature, which makes the email seem quite professional and genuine.
Good emails etiquette is just like learning any other etiquette. It takes practice and time to improve. You will be writing thousands of emails in your lifetime and each one with a unique purpose. With enough practice, you’ll be able to master different tones in your email, such as formality, friendliness, celebration, condolences, etc.
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