5 steps to easy email etiquette

Do you ever struggle with email? It’s one of the main methods of communication in our professional lives, but we often find our inboxes buried in sometimes mixed messages. We’ve put together a few guidelines to help make sure your work emails are effective and efficient.

Is email the best way?

If it is faster or easier to call, or if you have an upcoming meeting where you can ask in person, consider that method over email.

One good rule of thumb is: if it takes more than three emails to coordinate, consider picking up the phone.

Stick to the subject

People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line. Choose one that conveys the main point of your email or what you want the reader to do or learn from your message. Tell the reader as clearly as possible exactly what you want or why you are sending the email, using words such as “please review,” “input requested,” or “update”—to name a few.

Get to the point

Email isn’t meant to be a format to present the next great novel. You should state your purpose in the first sentence, provide proper background, and if the message starts to drag on, consider picking up the phone instead.

Style counts

Choose an easy-to-read font (like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman), AVOID ALL CAPS, and limit exclamation points. When in doubt, keep it classic. Avoid colored backgrounds or artwork in work emails.


Before you hit send, proofread your email to confirm the recipients (did you accidentally hit ‘reply all’?) and take a moment to make sure you are as clear and concise as possible.

And there you have it. Five simple steps to make your work email concise and effective.

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