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Hosted Exchange - Top 10 Rules of Business E-mail Etiquette

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June 01, 2011

Top 10 Rules of Business E-mail Etiquette

By Tammy Wolf
TMCnet Web Editor

Quite the double-edge sword, e-mail eats up a lot of our mobile time but also instantly connects us to vital information and fellow correspondences.

Of course, there are rules to everything; and business e-mail, in particular, automatically comes with its own set of rules and etiquette. While most of us have witnessed (or possibly even committed) e-mail faux pas, provides us with a helpful guideline to avoid making these common e-mail mistakes.

1.       Turn off your CAPS LOCK!

I know you want to set up a time to speak over the phone with me, but please don’t yell at me. While my own father is guilty of this rather annoying practice, I’d rather get these types of e-mails from him and not a business contact. However, if you do require an urgent response, try flagging the e-mail instead.

2.       Avoid a font mess

When it comes to fonts, stick to basics. recommends avoiding fonts like Comic Sans and using more professional types like Helvetica. And, please, don’t splash bright fonts and Word-Art-like signatures at the bottom of your e-mails; it’s distracting and can downplay your professionalism.

3.       It’s Wolf, Not Wolfe!

Like many of you, I happen to have a first AND last name that can be spelled several ways. While it’s become normal to receive an e-mail started with Dear Ms. Wolfe, I really appreciate when someone takes the time to double-check the spelling. Most e-mail addresses make it easy for you by including the recipient’s name.

4.       No happy faces, please

Depending on the contact and how often we’ve corresponded, I often place happy faces in my e-mails. However, CNN recommends nixing emoticons from any initial e-mails with new contacts. J

5.       Avoid emailz like dis

Keep the casual jargon to Facebook (News - Alert) wall posts, folks. Construct your content in a way you used to present in a college term paper – professional, accurate and edited.

6.       Get to the point

In today’s past-faced world, we don’t have time to sift through long e-mails. Keep it as short and sweet as possible so the recipient is able to quickly grasp your request or description.

7.       Subject lines are there for a reason

The subject line of an e-mail is like the headline of a breaking news story. Therefore, use it to your advantage in order to grab recipients’ attention – or your competition will first.

8.       One e-mail at a time

Don’t be a clingy contact. Wait at least 24 hours before sending a follow-up e-mail. Unless it’s urgent, the contact on the other end probably isn’t answering for a reason.

9.       Text only

Pictures, especially those cheesy clip art images, really aren’t necessary in an e-mail message. Enough said.

10.   Don’t “Friend” your contacts

If you need to get in touch with a business contact, don’t send business-oriented inquiries via casual methods of communication, like Facebook. In a perfect world, business talk and Facebook wouldn’t mix; but if you’re desperate to find a contact and must do so through Facebook or Twitter, keep the conversation short and move to e-mail once you’re connected.


Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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