26 Tips To Use E-mail Effectively

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  February 14, 2019

Email has an important place in our society, particularly in the workplace.  When used properly, email offers direction, support, and can even prevent the need for long phone calls or in person meetings. People assume that you already know how to use e-mail efficiently, but wouldn’t it be great to have some very useful tips so that you could be more productive? In this article, I’m going to give you 26 tips to help you use email more effectively.

How you communicate when composing an email leaves an impression on the reader, and like it or not, you determined that impression, not the recipient.  The words you use determines the tone that the reader hears. The tips offered here will help you communicate effectively.

Do you like to move people with your words? Have you ever hoped that your words had power behind them?  The following tips cover everything from formatting an email to the tone used in composing that email. As you read through this article, I am confident that you will apply at least a few of these tips in the very next email you compose.

1) Choose Your Subject Line Wisely

The first thing that someone sees when they open up an email is the subject of that email.  Therefore, it is very important that you are very succinct and to the point when composing the subject of the email.

Try to summarize the entire contents of your email in three to five words at the most. You do not want to write an entire sentence in the subject line, as that is very poor email etiquette.  After all, it’s supposed to be the Subject of the email, what it’s all about encapsulated into three to five words.

For example, “Monthly Work Schedule – February 2018” instead of “Schedule”. Here, you can determine what this email is about without ever having to open it.

Also, you do not want to use all CAPS or all lowercase in the subject line because if you do, the e-mail may get mistaken for Spam, and the reader will never see it.

2) Keep Your Email Brief

There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email from somebody who just won’t stop talking.  I’m sure you can relate.  There was a time when receiving an email was exciting. People would write emails as though they were written letters to long-lost friends.

Times have changed and so has email etiquette. Today, when you write an email, it must be short and to the point, otherwise it will not be read.

3) Stay on Topic

in line with keeping your email brief, make certain that you stay on topic. If you need to change the subject, send another email.

Assuming that you want something from the person that you are sending the email to, if you can help them stay organized in their thinking, you will help them get much more accomplished.  If your email is all over the place in your addressing several topics in one email, they then have to organize their thoughts before they can do anything. If you organize your thoughts before sending the email, you will get a response much faster.

4) Know Your Audience

You are going to compose an email quite differently to a customer of yours, then you would to your colleagues in the office about getting together after work to throw down a few.

Be careful in how you address the recipient, especially if it’s a customer. You don’t want to become too familiar with the customer, as they may see that as being disrespectful.

You definitely do not want to use “text speak” when sending an email, especially to somebody from your work email address. It is just extremely unprofessional.

5) Proofread Your Email

This is something that we are all guilty of. It is very important that you proofread your entire email by reading it in its entirety, after you have finished composing that email. You will, no doubt, find several spelling errors, missing punctuation, and the same word used twice next to each other.

When you proofread the email, you are ensuring that the reader sees that you are professional in your correspondence. Believe it or not, it says a lot about your reputation. If you leave spelling errors or your punctuation is off, the reader will easily pick up on that and chalk it up as you being sloppy.

If the email that you are composing is a cover letter to a resume, you will want to make it a point to have somebody else proofread your cover letter, just to make sure that all your I’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed.

6) Avoid Sending Unnecessary Attachments

Here’s the rule of thumb: Only attach what you have to.  Generally speaking, email attachments are limited to 25 MB. That means that if you have two attachments that are 25 make each, only one attachment can be sent.

When emailing multiple people, make certain that you want everybody to see what it is that you are attaching to that email.

7) Reply Quickly

when somebody sends you an email, generally speaking, they are expecting you to reply to their email if you do so quickly, it tells them that you are on the ball. It tells them that you value their time. It also strengthens your reputation because it shows that you are honoring the sender by replying.

8) Everything is NOT Urgent

when you send an email as a “High Priority”, you are telling the recipient that it isn’t urgent email. If you do this with every email that you send, it will be too long before people who get an email from you don’t pay any attention to what it is.

Everything you saying that is not an emergency. You do remember the story of the boy who cried Wolf, right? Sending every email that you send out as Urgent”, or “High Priority”, does just that. You really don’t want to be that boy who cried wolf you?

9) Use Wisdom When Using BCC

BCC means blind carbon copy. You use this when you are emailing multiple recipients and you do not want the readers to know who Wells received that email. If you do this with ill intent, it will come back to bite you.

However, if you do this to protect the email addresses the other recipients that you are sending the email to, this is seen as being very respectful.

I personally hate it when I receive an email that is been sentenced to 20 other people as a Carbon Copy instead of a Blind Carbon Copy. Because if anyone of the people on the carbon copy list replies, everybody on that list receives the reply.

If someone on a BCC list replies, only the sender receives the reply and not everybody else on the BCC list.

10) Smile When You Type

just like smiling when you speak on the phone helps determine the tone of voice that you use, when you smile and compose an email, it also sets the tone of that email, provided that you are not smiling sarcastically.

11) Keep Your Signature Short and Concise

your email signature should consist of your full name, job title, company address, and your website. That’s it.

Don’t leave a cutesy tagline that says, “Save a tree, do not print” at the end of your signature. Every time I see that tagline, it makes me want to print that email. Leave your convictions out of the signature of your email.

12) Use the Right Tone When Composing E-mail

Tone is everything. I can hear what somebody says but if they use the wrong tone, I will not hear anything they say. I will only hear the tone of their voice.

When you compose an email, there is a tone used in that email. Your words determine the tone that the reader hears. You need to understand this when composing your email.

13) DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!

Using ALL CAPS composing an email is like a comedian who has to use profanity in an attempt to be funny.  Email etiquette says that you should never use all CAPS to make a point. Use words. It is better not to send an email than it is to send an email with ALL CAPS anywhere within that email.

I know that you may be angry, but take a breather and you’ll find that if you use the right words, you will be able to express your point without dismantling your reputation.

14) Don’t Respond With One-Liners

responding with one-liners works well when texting somebody, but it does not work well at all when replying to an email. It tells the recipient that you don’t care enough to respond with any thought behind it.

15) Stop With the Emoticons, Jargon or Slang

That may have worked well in high school with your friends, but it has no place in the business environment. In fact, if you use emoticons, jargon or slang in an email, you are telling the reader that you have the mentality of a high school student. It is extremely unprofessional, and does not speak well of you.

16) Do You Really Need To Use “Reply All”?

It goes without saying that every time you hit reply all, your response will go to everyone on that email list. But does everybody really need to know your reply, or just the sender?

I will admit, this is definitely a pet peeve of mine. People do this when texting to groups as well as emailing two groups. Does everybody really need to know that you thought that was a good idea, or funny? Probably not. If you do want to reply, just make sure that you reply only to the sender, and not to everybody else on that email list.

17) Outline Your Content

most people will not follow this tip, but it is worthy of your attention. Sometimes, when we compose a formal email, we want to be sure to say exactly what we mean.

The best way to do that is to outline your email. You can do that by simply writing three or four words, start a new paragraph and enter a few more words.  This way, you will not forget what you want to say and you will not get sidetracked when composing your email.

18) Don’t Use Profanity in Your Email

this almost goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Do not use profanity in your email, ever. People will read your email and assess who you are immediately. They will see that you do not have the discipline to use your words wisely and find it necessary to curse in order to express a point of view, which reveals immaturity.  If you find it necessary to use profanity in an email, you definitely need to get up and walk away.

19) Forwarding Email

sometimes it is necessary to forward an email in the business environment, but this certainly should not become the norm.

You need to consider the person that sent you the email initially. Would they want you to forward what they wrote to somebody else? If you do need to forward an email, just use caution when doing so.

20) Auto-Responders Should Be Used Sparingly

if you have an auto-responder that reads, “Thank you for emailing me, however I’m not in the office right now and I will get back to you as soon as I can”, it is pretty much pointless. Obviously, you are going to get back to them. That’s the whole point of email.

If you leave an auto-responder on, or use it frequently, it does tell spammers that it is a legitimate email address and they will use that to their advantage.

21) Using Humor in Email is Not a Good Idea

Telling jokes in person is hard enough. Doing so in an email is even more difficult because you don’t know how the recipient is going to hear what you are saying.  The joke may be misunderstood, or they may think that you are being sarcastic when you are not. To be safe, leave humor out of business medications.

22) Don’t Make Assumptions

oftentimes, when we are presented with a situation, we assume everybody else is well aware of the same situation that has come to our attention. That is not necessarily the case. Never assume that the person you are emailing knows what you are talking about.

If you make the assumption that they know what you are talking about, and they have no clue as to what you are referring to, well . . . that just leads to more miscommunication.

23) Stop Overusing Exclamation Points!

There is a schoolteacher that corresponds with me regarding my son. She constantly uses exclamation points and I can never tell if she is angry or excited. Is he angry at my son, or is she excited that he is doing a great job?

Again, a well thought out email will not require exclamation points threaded throughout the entire email. Use language to make your point, not punctuation.

24) Only Discuss Public Matters in Email

In today’s world, it is better not to leave a paper trail when it comes to private conversations. If you have something that you need to communicate privately with somebody, don’t use email for that. Don’t use text either. Call them on the phone, or better yet speak to them in person in a conference room or a private setting.

25) Train Your Staff

If you are in a position where people report to you, make it a point to train them in email etiquette. Ironically, sending out an email to tell them about email etiquette is not going to cut it.

Scheduling a meeting and going over many, if not all of the tips found here in this article would ensure that everybody could be held accountable for the material covered. It also offers those under your care the ability to ask questions should they have any.

Don’t assume that they know email etiquette. Though it may feel awkward in the first two or three minutes of this meeting, ultimately, by meeting together, it lets your staff know that you are very serious about the subject and more importantly, the culture that you are trying to cultivate in your business environment

26) Stop and Think Before You Press ‘Send’

There are times that we write emails when we are upset and have not thought things through. Frankly, the best thing you could do at that point is to get up and get a drink of water from the water fountain, take a break, and then come back to compose that email.

However, if that is not an option, and you must send an email immediately, in spite of your being upset, be certain to re-read that email at least twice before clicking the ‘Send’ button.  If possible, have somebody else read it before you send it. You do not want to regret having sent an email in haste.


Related Questions

How Many E-mails Are Sent Each Day?
The number of e-mails has decreased from about 205 billion per day in 2015 to 125.5 billion in 2018.  The number has primarily decreased due to the popularity of social media and texting, especially among Millennials.

How Many Spam Emails Were Sent in 2018?
In 2018, spam messages accounted for 53.5% of all e-mail traffic worldwide. China is responsible for sending the majority of unsolicited spam accounting for 14.36 percent of global spam volume.  People received more spam e-mail pertaining to healthcare and dating.

Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.