In this article, we would be sharing useful email tips everyone needs to know. Agreed almost everyone knows what an email is and what it is used for. But hey! I can bet you most of us do not know how to go about using our email professionally.
No one teaches that in a class these days right?
Call this an article on the etiquette of email usage and you won’t be wrong.
So what’s the meaning of email? If you struggled to remember then you must read this article to the end twice!
Don’t worry I am just kidding. Email is basically an acronym for electronic mail which means messages that are sent through an electronic medium from one computer to another via a network.
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- The basics
- Recipients (TO,BCC & CC)
- Subject line
- Email body
When you build a house, you start with the basement. So, before we dive into the specific sections of your email, let’s take a look at the fundamentals.
Even if you ignore or forget every single other part of this article, at the very least make sure you’ve checked these boxes.
- If you’re sending from a personal address—for a job application or informational interview, for example—make sure your address is still professional sounding. You want to make the right impression, and “[email protected]” isn’t going to cut it.
- If you’ve received an angry message or are feeling enraged yourself, step away from the computer for a few minutes. Firing off something in the heat of the moment will only result in problems.
- Include a friendly greeting and closing. It makes your entire message feel much more complete, polished, and professional.
- Enough said.
Effective timing is one of those things that’s all too easy to forget about when you’re doing your best to power your way through your inbox.
But, if you’ve ever received an immediate one-word response to a thoughtful, lengthy message, or you’ve waited weeks to get a reply you were anxiously waiting for, I think you’ll agree that timing is worthy of a little more consideration.
- As a general rule, respond to emails as soon as you’re realistically able to. You don’t want to leave people hanging.
- If the message deserves a little more time and thought, don’t fire off a half-assed, immediate response just to get it off your plate. Instead, reply and confirm that you received it—and notify the sender that you’re going to take a little bit of time to think things through.
- A great tip to help you keep your responses in check? Muse co-founder Alex Cavoulacos recommends that the faster you respond, the shorter your answer should be.
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Seemingly endless email chains. Co-workers who continue to CC you on messages that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Those teammates who seem to have no clue what that handy BCC field is for.
They’re all things you probably gripe about—at least when other people commit them. But, let’s turn the spotlight on you for a minute. Have you gone against any of these etiquette rules in regards to your recipient list?
- Proceed with caution when using “Reply All,” and only use it when everyonein that thread needs to be updated. You’ve been warned.
- Don’t be afraid to use BCC, especially in those instances when you don’t want all of the addresses or recipients to be visible to everyone.
- Here’s a handy rule to keep in mind: Listing someone in the “To” field means you expect a response. In contrast, if you CC that person, you’re simply keeping him in the loop on your message to others.
What’s the difference between CC and BCC?
When you CC people on an email, the CC list is visible to all other recipients. For example, if you CC [email protected] and [email protected] on an email, Bob and Jake will both know that the other received the email, as well.
BCC stands for “blind carbon copy.” Unlike with CC, no one but the sender can see the list of BCC recipients. For example, if you have [email protected] and [email protected] in the BCC list, neither Bob nor Jake will know that the other received the email.
Someone on the BCC list can see everything else, including the CC list and the contents of the email. However, the BCC list is secret—no one can see this list except the sender. If a person is on the BCC list, they’ll see only their own email on the BCC list.
When to Use CC and BCC
CC is useful when:
- You want someone else to receive a copy of an email, but they aren’t one of the primary recipients.
- You want the recipients of the message to know the other people who have been sent the message.
BCC is useful when:
- You want someone else to receive an email, but you don’t want the primary recipients of the email to see you’ve sent this other person a copy. For example, if you’re having a problem with a fellow employee, you might send them an email about it and BCC the human resources department. HR would receive a copy for their records, but your fellow employee wouldn’t be aware of this.
- You want to send a copy of an email to a large number of people. For example, if you have a mailing list with a large number of people, you could include them in the BCC field. No one would be able to see anyone else’s email address. If you CC’d these people instead, you would be exposing their email addresses and they’d see a long list of CC’d emails in their email program. You could even put your own email address in the To field and include every other address in the BCC field, hiding everyone’s email address from each other
- With all of that said, the fewer people you can include on an email, the better. Too many cooks in the kitchen will likely just lead to confusion and crossed wires.
What’s the first part of your message that people will lay eyes on? That’s easy: your subject.
As you already know, a great subject line can work wonders for your email as a whole. A bad subject? Well, let’s just say it can inspire a great deal of aggravation among your recipients.
- Make your subject line specific, rather than relying on vague phrases like “Checking In.” This allows your recipients to immediately glean what your message is about. Plus, it’ll make it that much easier to find itwhen you need it later.
- Keep it short. While you want it to be specific, that doesn’t mean it needs to be its own standalone paragraph. Try to stick with fewer than 10 words—anything longer than that can likely be its own sentence.
- No matter how big of a hurry you’re in, don’t skip the subject field entirely. Nobody likes seeing that ominous “No Subject” in his or her inbox.
Here it is—the meat and potatoes of your message. The other fields are important, but this is where you’ll really make it clear why you’re contacting the person in the first place.
Yes, workplace communications have becoming increasingly casual. But, that doesn’t mean you want your emails to transform into total unorganized messes. Make sure you’re keeping up with these etiquette rules, and your messages are sure to be polished and professional.
- This is another spot where you’ll want to be as clear and concise as possible—you can likely just consider that the golden rule of emailing. After all, if something takes pages of text to explain, you’re probably better off doing it in person or over the phone.
- Stick with all of the traditional writing rules you learned in school. That means proper sentence structure, capitalization, punctuation, and resisting the temptation to litter your message with emojis.
- Make sure that your message contains a clear ask or action items. Whether you’re requesting a co-worker’s opinion on something or looking for details on the piece of a project, you need to have a solid reason for emailing—and you also need to make that reason explicit.
- If there is no action required of the recipient and you’re simply emailing to provide an update, make that clear as well. People need to walk away from your note knowing what’s expected of them.
- Use bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate. We’re all busy, and some formatting makes it much easier to skim through your message and get the highlights.
- Bold important information so that it stands out, but avoid using all caps, which makes it look like you’re yelling.
- Use a legible font, and avoid too many different font colors. You want your message to be as simple to read as possible.
Need to attach something to your email? It’s often an afterthought, and you wind up just tacking on what’s needed right before hitting “send.”
But, attachments aren’t the Wild West of the email world. No, there are still a few etiquette rules you’ll want to make sure you’re following.
- Before attaching anything, make sure that it’s actually needed. There’s no point in attaching a one-page Word document containing two sentences.
- When in doubt, attach your file as a PDF so you don’t run into any compatibility issues.
- If you need to send a large attachment, make sure you “zip” or compress it first.
- Get in the habit of attaching your file before drafting the body of your email. That way, you can avoid the dreaded, “Sorry, I forgot the attachment!” follow-up message.
If you’re rolling your eyes and claiming that you’ve heard all of these before, I don’t blame you. But, chances are, you still fail to abide by these frequently repeated etiquette rules every once in a while.
So, consider this your friendly reminder to snap out of autopilot and pay closer attention to your messages. Your co-workers will thank you.
If you found this useful, feel free to let us know in the comment section.