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Email Etiquette: 5 Tips for Professional Communication

There is a fine line between a professional email and a hopelessly informal one, but some of the mistakes that hurt professionalism can be unfortunately easy to make for even the best of us. Heed the following guidelines to ensure that you always have a professionally-crafted, business ready email for any recipient.

Try to avoid using too many contractions and slang words

Using words like “there’s” and “it’s” will not necessarily make you look like you lack professionalism, but as a rule of thumb, it is a safe bet to try steering away from the use of too many contractions. Learn to develop a good relationship with the word “is”, as this will make your written voice more refined and leave a better impression on recipients who highly value professionalism. Naturally, words like “ain’t” should be dropped from your vocabulary while composing any professional email.

Make sure that you use an appropriate sign-off

You will want to leave a sign-off that is personable but not overly informal. Generally speaking, a safe option is “Best regards” or even simply “Best.” Do make a point to avoid the mistake of using a quote as a sign off. Many people make the mistake of using a quote they find profound or inspiring as an appropriate way to finish an email, but usually, this just comes off as strange and out-of-place in today’s world.

Try not to get excessively personal

A personable touch can indeed make your email just a bit more endearing to the recipient, but it’s important that you don’t get too personal. Reaching too far into either your personal life or the life of the recipient can put you in the territory of either prying or oversharing, and both are absolutely the opposite of professionalism. If you want to add a personable touch to your email without overstepping your boundaries, a reliable tactic is simply start off by saying that you hope all has been well. By saying that you hope all has been well, you with establish a “human” connection without an informal tone.

Take it easy on the exclamation points

Unnecessary exclamation points will always lower your professionalism. You can convey enthusiasm in an email while remaining professional but stay away from using too many exclamation points in general. A professional email should have a tone that can be interpreted with a calm indoor voice, but exclamation points are comparable to yelling. Would you start negotiating with a potential client by yelling directly in their ear? If not, limit your exclamation points as much as possible and pretend that the caps lock key will electrically shock you if you touch it.

Proofread your email twice before you send it

Even with a perfectly professional and properly punctuated email, a single unfortunate typo has the potential to do a world of damage. Make a habit of reading your email twice before sending it. Take special care to watch for errors that spell check will not detect, such as accidentally repeated words or mistakenly omitted conjunctions. No matter how confident you may be, you might be surprised at how many subtle mistakes can emerge from hastily completed writing.

Always Make Sure There are No Security Breaches

Sending emails to people that you haven’t met before can be a little daunting but make sure that any attachments don’t look suspicious or potentially harmful. Network security is a big issue for most companies and so if you are outreaching with emails you need to make sure that it appears as safe as possible.

Emails are a great way of communicating, but if you are lazy and don’t follow some simple rules you can come across as quite barbaric Double-checking your message, avoiding exclamation points, remaining formally personable, refraining from slang, and signing off properly will always ensure that your email leaves an impression of professionalism. There is still a good deal of flexibility within these guidelines, so you can easily adhere to them without sounding completely robotic.