The Art of Email Etiquette

10 July 2019

Ahh electronic mail, everyday we are inundated with it.  Some of the emails we receive are imperative for work, others might be personal, and a fair few will be junk.  Whatever the case, you're likely trying to get out quick responses, file emails away to restore some kind of order to your inbox, or find a way to unsubscribe from whatever company has just sent you another discount code.

With all these emails flying back and forth there are a few emailing 101 tips everyone should employ, not only to make your life easier but also for the person on the receiving end of your emails.

Refrain from sending urgent emails that aren't urgent

If you abuse the urgent marker, it won't be long until no one will pay any attention to it, and when you finally do send a truly urgent email, no one will pay attention to that one, either.


ARE YOU YELLING?!?! Because that's what using all caps looks like.

Unless you want to give your email recipient a heart attack, turn your CAPS LOCK off. And while you're at it, ease off on all the exclamation points.

Step away from the Reply All Button

Email is not a party in the break room - it's a communication tool. 

We have all been on the receiving end of a reply all party and it is not fun.  If you're responding to an email sent out to a group, be sure you are only hitting 'reply all' if your reply is truly necessary for everyone to receive.

When to use CC

CC'ing (Carbon Copying) is a brilliant tool to keep people in the loop of a conversation.  When you are cc'ing someone you are saying "this is for your information, I do not need you to take any action".

But be wary of CC'ing people if you do not have permission to include them, i.e. if you are emailing a colleague and decide to cc the boss in half way through the conversation without permission it could be seen as dishonest and well underhanded.

When to use BCC

Just like CC'ing, BCC is a brilliant email tool, but it easy to abuse and can trip you up if not used properly.

BCC'ing can convey distrust and secrecy if used inappropriately i.e. BCC'ing someone into a conversation who has no right, need or authority to receive the email.  To make matters worse if you BCC someone in on an email and the recipient hits reply all, they may just see all the people that were BCC'ed in.

But it is not all doom and gloom for BCC, if you are sending a mass email (to more than 10 people) use BCC, it firstly means you are not breaching anyone's privacy when you send out your email and the recipient will not be scrolling for days to get the body of the email.

Structure your emails properly

Take time to make sure your message is clear, easy to read and most importantly makes sense.  Staring at a screen all day is hard at the best of times, let alone when you are faced with an email that is frankly all over the place.

If it doesn't read nicely to you, or you find yourself going to over the same sentence time and time again, chances are your recipient will find it confusing as well.

Watch your attachment file size

Be wary of the file size before you hit send and destroy someones data plan or slow their inbox to a grinding halt as it attempts to process the mammoth files.

If you have some hefty attachments to send around consider compressing the file or sending it via a file-sharing program like drop box.

Finally, keep it courteous

Just like text messages, emails are often open to interpretation as to your tone, politeness or displeasure as the case may be.  Remember to use your manners and double check your tone before you hit the send button.

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