No other form of communication is as fraught with danger in the business world as email is, but if you follow a few simple rules of business email etiquette, you should be able to navigate the minefield.
If you consider yourself a business professional, write like one. Begin your email with a customary salutation, write in complete sentences, capitalize the beginning of all sentences and all appropriate words, refrain from using all caps, avoid text speak at all possible costs, and end your email with an appropriate complimentary closing.
There’s a reason there’s a subject line. Use it. Availing yourself of the subject line and appropriately titling your email can not only ensure that it’s read promptly if it’s important, but it will also help the recipient file it more easily, making it more likely they will be able to find it in the future if they need to refer to it. Make sure both your name and the recipient’s name are spelled and formatted correctly in the sender and receiver boxes of the email.
Replying to an Email
If you are replying to an email that contains many specific questions, feel free to answer the questions within the body of the email that was sent to you. Just make sure you use a different color or font of text so that it’s easy for the other person to identify your remarks. Properly format the email with a salutation and a complimentary closing before sending your reply. Reply to any email that you receive as promptly as possible. If you do not require a reply to your email, include the words “No Reply Needed” or “NRN” at the end of your email.
Forwarding an Email
Think long and hard before forwarding an email to your business contacts, and remember to ask permission of the person who sent it to you before forwarding it on. If you forward an email to multiple business contacts who don’t know each other personally, make sure to use the blind carbon copy option to protect your contacts’ privacy. Do not forward an email to anyone to whom you don’t think it will be relevant. Do not forward joke emails to business contacts unless you feel comfortable that you know them well enough to predict their sense of humor. Do not forward chain emails to business contacts under any circumstances.
Purdue University Online Writing Lab
eMail Etiquette 101
US Department of Labor.
Workplace e-mail and Internet use:employees and employers beware