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How to Write a Professional Email

10 Ways to Write a Better Email

How you write a work email isn't going to make or break your career (well, in most cases). But your email etiquette can affect how seriously you're taken, and even how well you're liked, in the workplace. Read on for 10 things to keep in mind before hitting send.

  1. Check (and double check) the recipient list. Is there anything worse than realizing you’ve just forwarded your co-worker’s email — with commentary — back to your co-worker herself? Always double-check the name(s) in the "To" field to make sure your email doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
  2. Make small talk. Keep it short and sincere, but remember that a few niceties in an email can go a long way. It doesn’t take much time to throw in a comment about the weather or a "Have a great weekend," and it could make your email that much more well-received.
  3. Proofread yourself. Nothing says "You’re not worth my time" to your recipients like a typo-ridden email. Do the courteous and professional thing and give your email a once-over (or two) before sending.

For the rest of your professional email crash course, keep reading.

  1. Get a second pair of eyes. Asking your spouse or roommate to look over every work email you send is impractical. But when you’re composing an important or sensitive email, ask someone you trust to take a look and make sure nothing jumps out at them.
  2. Keep it succinct. Work email does not equal the great American novel. If the topic you’re emailing about is so complicated that it requires more than a few paragraphs, it’s probably better to discuss it in person or over the phone.
  3. Give the email a clear subject. Rather than asking your boss a time-sensitive question in an email titled "Re: no subject," give your email a subject line that fits the content. It’s less likely to get lost in the inbox shuffle, and it will be easier for the recipients to refer back to later.
  4. Attach relevant information. If your email refers to a specific document, be sure to include it as an attachment so you don't leave any recipients in the dark.
  5. Learn the subtle art of CC and BCC. CCing your boss on an email about a co-worker’s screw-up sends a clear message to your co-worker, while BCCing can be a good way to loop other people in on a topic without upsetting the main recipient.
  6. Easy on the punctuation . . . Multiple exclamation points and question marks will make your email sound frantic and harried. One piece of punctuation per sentence tends to be enough to get your point across.
  7. . . . and emoticons. Same goes for emoticons — a smiley face here and there can warm up an email, but using one to punctuate every sentence can come off as unprofessional and insincere.
Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
Now there should be an article about weather to break up paragraphs like this: "Hey John, blah blah blah, had a meeting, etc., etc., etc... We just got the new printer downstairs, so remember when you come in, to bring it up." or "Hey John, blah blah blah, had a meeting, etc., etc., etc... We just got the new printer downstairs, so remember when you come in, to bring it up."
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 7 years
Whoops! I meant to say tips.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 7 years
All very good tios, especially number 1!
Advah Advah 7 years
I'd leave the smileys out of an email if you want to make it sound professional. And I couldn't agree more about the "no need for '!!!!' " - nothing irritates me more than five exclamation points in a work email. What I also do for work or job application emails is start by attaching the docs, then type in the subject and the email, and as the final step enter the email address: that way you avoid the "oops I forgot to attach the docs in my previous email" thing, and you don't hit "send" by mistake when your email is only half-typed.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i hate it when people make small talk in work e-mails. i'm trying to get work done, and it's much quicker/easier without the chit-chat
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