The world of business runs on emails, with the average worker sending around 40 emails every single day. Being a preferred method of communication, followed closely by instant messaging tools, email allows people to connect, share information, send resources, and do their jobs more efficiently.
For many, writing emails comes naturally, with the ins and outs of a corporate professional tone and style being something that seems second nature. That said, there are just as many professionals that open their inboxes and refrain from replying simply because they’re worried about how their email may come across.
To help you send professional emails while at work, we’ve collected the five must-follow rules that you should take into account. With these tips, you’ll be able to create flawless emails that deliver information while coming across as professional as can be. We’ll cover:
- Structure Matters
- Humor (and avoiding it)
- Formal Language
- Being Polite
Let’s get right into it.
Although business professionals tend to send around 40 emails a day, they receive a great deal more, often getting around 120 new emails into their inbox during the 8-hour working period. With that in mind, if your email isn’t structured correctly to facilitate easy reading, then there is a much lower chance that people will open your email, let alone respond.
There are a few structural elements that you should always endeavor to include:
- Subject Line – Your subject line should summarize the purpose of your email in around 5 words or less. This should be the very core of why you’re writing to this person. A succinct subject line allows people to quickly scan through their inbox and find what’s most important, helping the flow of communication to move much more rapidly.
- Formal Greeting and Farewell – Always start your email with a quick greeting (a simple hello will do) and then sign off with a quick goodbye. Sign-offs like ‘Many thanks’, ‘All the best’, or ‘Warm regards’ always go a long way toward creating a well-balanced email.
- White Space – If you send an email that is one block of extended text, you’re going to be instantly overwhelming the other person, radically decreasing the chance that they read the actual contents of the message. To best structure your email, make sure you paragraph effectively, leaving white space gaps where possible to help the recipient skim read.
- Email Signature – A good practice within corporate spheres is to include an email signature in your message. This will let people know who you are, what you do, and what company you work for, as well as any other information you want to share.
Just take a look at these email writing examples if you want to see an effective email structure in action.
Humor Doesn’t Always Come Through Well Over Email
Tone is often one of the most difficult elements to convey when communicating over email. Without the face-to-face context clues, people can mistake small comments and get the wrong end of the stick. To keep yourself safe from accidentally offending anyone with a comment that was meant to be taken as a joke, it’s best to avoid humor altogether.
Of course, if you know the person you’re emailing, then the rules are slightly different. But, in general, you should only use a professional tone when writing emails, avoiding any attempts at jokes or humor in general. While this doesn’t exactly scream fun workplace, this tip is always a good idea if you’re just getting started with a new team.
Proofread For Punctuation
One of the biggest markers of an email that someone has written rapidly without giving much thought to is spelling and punctuation errors. While spelling errors are typically easier to spot, with the helpful red line underneath any misspelled words signaling an area that needs fixing, punctuation isn’t always the same ballgame.
We recommend just taking a second to read over your email before hitting send. Double-check for small things like comma splicing, bad grammar, or anything that’s slightly out of place. If you’re not the best at punctuation, reading aloud can really help you to see how your writing flows.
Also, while we’re discussing proofreading, this is a great time to double-check the email address of the person you’re sending to. Sending an email to the wrong person can be a nightmare, especially if you don’t realize. Be sure to include an address check within your proofreading process.
Although it may be much easier for you to use slang or abbreviate every other word in your email, you might be confusing people while doing so. Alternatively, others in the company could consider your casual use of language off-putting, seeing it as unprofessional.
Much of professional email writing is just playing it safe, doing things as ‘properly’ as you can to ensure that no one mistakes your tone, style, or language choices as out of place. Language is a huge area that you should attempt to refine, using a vocabulary that matches the atmosphere you’re in.
If you’re not sure what type of company you’re working for, check out how others email you, or look at the company values for a better idea of the company culture. These can be useful tools for ascertaining how you should be writing your emails and then adhering to whatever you find.
An important thing to remember is that a lot of the time, your crisis isn’t that important to someone else. If you’re about to miss a deadline and are demanding that people from other teams get work done as soon as possible, you’re going to come across as arrogant and rude.
Always, and we mean always, try and be as polite as possible when you’re dealing with people over email. A thank you and a please go a long way toward getting stuff done. What’s more, as tone is notoriously difficult to interpret over email, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and be overly polite, rather than coming across as abrasive to your coworkers.
Writing emails doesn’t have to be complicated, especially in a professional work setting where you’ll be resorting to a formal tone 95% of the time. From double checking your writing to avoid mistakes to incorporating an easy-to-read structure, the little things really add up when it comes to email writing.
By using our above tips, you’ll be well on your way to communicating with ease in the corporate space.