17 Important Business Email Etiquette Rules That You Need to Know

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Email messaging has become part of the daily grind of any professional, and with the use of smartphones, reading, writing and sending it has become easier. With so much familiarity and convenience of writing it, the mistakes are often ignored by senders. However, committing these mistakes can actually have serious professional consequences on you because your emails represent you. What you say and how you write it creates an impression of you that can either add or detract from your image.  Email mistakes look unprofessional and may reduce your chance of having your message be taken seriously. Moreover, it may be interpreted that you are careless and that if you make mistakes in your email, the likelihood that you also make mistakes in your work is possible. 

Whenever writing your message remember that once you have sent your email, it will be like a permanent record unless the recipient erased it. Also, nothing is confidential with the email you sent because it is easy to forward and it can be shared among others without your knowledge, Be mindful on how you write your email to protect your image and to prevent facing further consequences. Even if emails are more informal than business letters it has to be written in a formal way.  If you write in a professional email style you will also reflect like a real professional. This can be achieved by following the principles when writing email messages called email etiquette. 

Use a Professional Email Address

When sending messages related to your current job, use the email address that your employer assigned to you. If you will use your personal email account then make sure that your email address conveys your name. The most appropriate choices when creating your email address is by using your full name or first initial then last name. This sounds more formal and it allows the recipient to know exactly who is sending the email. Never use email addresses that are suggestive and not appropriate for use in the workplace.

Send email to the correct recipients only

Ensure that you’ve got the right email address when sending your message. The main recipient and the person you wanted to reply to in the email should be in the “To” field. Only copy the people that you want to be aware of the information you are sending but not necessarily need to reply. Use “cc” or carbon copy field if it is important that each recipient knows to whom your message was sent to. Meanwhile, use BCC or blind carbon copy when you’re sending general emails to people who don’t know each other. BCC protects the privacy of the email recipients since the BCC’ed recipients cannot see each other’s email addresses. 

Explain why you forward

In some instances, forwarding an email from someone else is important, When you need to do so, explain to the new recipient why you’re doing it and mention how you expect him to benefit from it. 

Be clear in your subject line

Any email that tells nothing about the message’s content such as “hi” or any cute, obscure or vague subject will be ignored. Subject lines must always be filled in, especially for a business-related email. Keep the subject line succinct by using words that describe the general purpose of your email. Be clear as possible and make sure it gets to the point because this is the gauge that your recipients will use to identify how important your email is to read and whether to open it promptly. Some examples of subject lines are

  • Founding Anniversary Invitation
  • Sales Brochure Revisions

You may also include the action you want your reader to take to make your subject line more effective. 

  • Founding Anniversary Invitation – RSVP by October 23, 2019
  • Sales Brochure Revisions – Need Approval by Friday

Use the words “urgent”, or  “important please respond” in the subject line only if it’s crucial for the recipient to be notified immediately to take action. Never fake an email’s importance because if you do, your email will just end up being ignored the next time. If a reply or other action is not required of the recipients let them know right away by indicating FYI in the subject line. Moreover avoid including URLs, exclamation points, and your words written in all caps or all lowercase because recipients might think it is a Spam. 

Start with a professional salutation

Your email should always open with a greeting. If you start without a salutation, or your greeting is too informal your reader will notice it immediately and this might appear too rude. Opening an email with “hey” or ‘yo’ might be acceptable for colleagues that you are friends with but using these colloquial expressions is not appropriate when writing for formal business transactions. Some of the salutations you can use are the following:

  • To whom it may concern,
  • Dear [first name],

Address the recipient properly

For people that you don’t know well or have a formal relationship with, it is better to address them by their title and last name unless they have asked you otherwise, for example, “Dear Professor Smith” or “Dear Mr. Carter.”. If you are replying to an email and the sender has signed it with his first name only, then you can address him by his first name as well like ‘Dear John’, or ‘Dear Peter’. Always use the recipient’s full first name, unless they have told you that they prefer a nickname. For courtesy, always know the name of the person you are emailing.  However, if you really can’t find the name, then indicate the position such as ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or use a generic title such as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam.’

Keep It Short and Simple (KISS)

Professionals are busy people who prefer brief emails rather than long, wordy messages. Avoid waffling and get straight to the point to help your reader immediately identify the important details. It is best to state the purpose of your email within the first two sentences of the message and keep your sentences clear by avoiding long, complicated and run-on sentences. Split your message into two to four short paragraphs, each one focusing on a single idea and make your paragraphs short. Use bullet points for important details or lists to make it easier to understand. If you have more than one topic and have more to say, split your message into more than one mailing, with one topic per email or make a phone call instead. 

Keep your fonts classic

Unusual fonts may look interesting but may be perceived to be informal and your reader may take your email less seriously.  When writing business-related emails stick to the easy-to-read font styles like Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman or your company’s default font style. Use 10 or 12 for font size and opt for the safest choice for your text color which is black. Use the same font style, size, and color for the rest of the email.

Be careful with capitalization

The message in your email should be written in sentence case which means that the first word in each sentence must be capitalized unless there are proper nouns. You may use all-caps for headings or emphasis on certain words, but it is best to use bold or italics to help it stand out. Be careful with capitalization as when your words are written in all capitals it may be perceived to be screaming, on the contrary, if you never capitalize any letters, the message may look lazy.

Use exclamation points sparingly

If you choose to use an exclamation point, use it only once to convey your excitement. Never overuse it, as this gives the reader the impression that you always have a strong emotion and it does not make your email look professional. 

Use full words and layman terms

Emails should be written in a language that’s easy to understand. Anything that you would not put in your business letters,  should not be included in your email message as well. Emoticons and texting abbreviations are not suitable for business-related email. Meanwhile, acronyms, slang, and buzzwords can confuse your recipients. To get your point across effectively, it’s better to write full words and always use layman’s terms. 

Be careful with sarcasm and humor

Since you cannot get the context of facial expressions and tone of voice in email, expressing humor in your message is not advisable. There’s a good chance that your recipient will misinterpret the joke. Something that you may think is funny might not be funny to someone else, and something may be funny when spoken may sound differently when written. 

Watch your tone

Tone is how you express your attitude in an email and it influences how your message will be received. Business emails must always have a professional tone, although not all work emails sound the same. Choose which tone is best to use in your email whether it is helpful, appreciative, or others, but typically, the ideal tone is respectful, friendly, and approachable.

Consider to whom you are writing, and the impression you want to leave the reader with. Always , maintain a positive tone in your email communications. For best results, refrain from using negative-sounding words like “failure”,  “mistake”, “wrong,” “neglected” and always say “please” and “thank you.” If you’re giving feedback, offer some encouragement along with whatever criticism you’re sending. 

Have a polite comment before closing

When you are ready to finish your email, it is best to use polite and professional sounding comments such as, 

  • I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Thank you for your time and attention.
  • Please advise as necessary.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sign off the email with a conversation closer

For short internal company emails, you may simply put a double space after your last paragraph then your name, however, if you’re writing a more formal email, it is imperative to close it properly. Never forget your closing because, without a closing, the end of the email feels abrupt and rude. Like the salutation, the closing should also be friendly, polite and professional. Some of the suggested and most commonly used closings are listed below: 


  • Kind regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • All the best,

To let the reader know that a response isn’t needed, you may use other closer options such as “no reply necessary,” “see you at the meeting.” or “thank you again”

Include your signature

Emails should always include a signature that tells the readers who you are and how to contact you. Include in it your full name, email address, and phone number. By doing this, you make it easier for your recipients to find your contact details by just looking at the footer of any of your emails. This will prevent them from the need to root through the first message you sent them.

Proofread your message

Be sure to always proofread your email before sending it.  Never neglect this critical step because grammar, spelling, and punctuation do matter, particularly in professional emails. Any mistake on this is noticeable to your recipient and you may be judged for making it. To correct this, you may use a spell-checker, then re-read your message to spot the other lapses or have it checked by someone else. 


It may take some practice to keep your emails professionally sound, but if you always apply these rules whenever you are writing, your message will look more polished, clear and easy to read in the long run. Now that you have learned these netiquettes, start crafting your next email. Happy emailing.


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Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.