Email 101

I normally work in an office. We have fancy email addresses with the company name dot com and we spend a lot of time sending emails back and forth to clients. So it never ceases to amaze me how badly people behave over email. 

I was looking for a house a while ago. I sent an email to a prospective landlord (via Craigslist) asking when a good time to see it would be. Here was her response (I italicized it for clarity): 

thanks for the response--i will be showing it next tues (but  remember, it is occupied)-- the dates sound good-- may be best to call me, _____, for a phone interview first-- weekend is good for this  ###-###-####   (or earlier of necessary)--- hope to hear from you

This one was even better (and I have not changed any of the punctuation or wording): 

sorry only for one person.

That is all she (he?) said. Maybe this sounds silly, but I don't really want to rent from someone who can't even treat me as a client. Is this how they write emails all the time? If they are looking for a job, do they write their cover letter like this? Then I thought, maybe I am just being picky and anal about things; I do have a tendency to do that from time to time. So I went (where else) online to find out: What are the proper rules for emailing, especially when it's a business or "professional" email?

I found a great website. It's called 101 Email Etiquette Tips. It is a series of 101 tips, pertaining to sending and formatting emails, email attachments, cc'ing, forwarding, IMs, Business emails, blogs and message boards. Some of them were a little silly, some of them seem self-explanatory, but a lot of them were pretty spot on! 

Here are some of my favorites (I added a couple of comments in blue): 

- Make sure your e-mail includes a courteous greeting and closing. Helps to make your e-mail not seem demanding or terse.

- Spell check - emails with typos are simply not taken as seriously.

- Are you using proper sentence structure? First word capitalized with appropriate punctuation? Multiple instances of !!! or ??? are perceived as rude or condescending. **see lady above

- Refrain from using the Reply to All feature to give your opinion to those who may not be interested. In most cases replying to the Sender alone is your best course of action.

- Type in complete sentences. To type random phrases or cryptic thoughts does not lend to clear communication. **also see lady above

- Always end your emails with "Thank you," "Sincerely," "Take it easy," "Best regards" - something!

- Do not type in all caps. That's yelling or reflects shouting emphasis.

- Typing your emails in all small case gives the perception of lack of education or laziness. **OH! What? See lady above!

- When forwarding email, if you cannot take the time to type a personal comment to the person you are forwarding to--then don't bother.

- If you must forward to more than one person, put your email address in the TO: field and all the others you are sending to in the BCc: field to protect their email address from being published to those they do not know. This is a serious privacy issue! **Do you know how many of my friend's friend's email address I needlessly have due to this issue? So many!

- Be very careful how you use Reply to All and Cc: in a business environment. Doing so for CYA or to subtlety tattle can backfire and have your viewed as petty or insecure. **Annoyingly, the CYA (aka. tattle) happens a lot in my office.

- IMing is not an excuse to forget your grade school education. 

- Don't fall for trolls. Trolls are folks who will post rude comments just to get a rise out of everyone.**Did you guys see THIS post? If you get a chance, read it and then check out the subsequent comments!

- If any email states to forward to all your friends, or just 5 people -- do everyone a favor and just hit delete!

Here is the PDF of all 101 Tips.

What is your biggest email pet peeve? What is the worst case of punctuation or grammar you have ever experienced? You don't have to say who it was sent from, but were they supposedly an intelligent business person?


  1. I find these problems in company emails regularly. Texting is just as bad. I was picking up my boss - big boss, like company head of the division - at his hotel and he texted me, "R U on Royal? B there in sec". That was my first communication with him!

  2. People at my company are pretty good about proper emails. But I have encountered some not so great one. Like horrible spelling. I usually read through my emails before sending them, especially if they are important, but it seems like others do not re-read them.

    I can't think of any good examples, though!

  3. It kills me when people get really creative with their WORK email settings. Comic sans font in electric blue or green instead of black, personalized signatures with long, drawn-out quotes about the power of God in your life, etc. These are all actual examples. I just...I can't even imagine a world in which that is appropriate and smiled upon. Seriously, people, just don't.

  4. I'm always paranoid that my auto signature isn't going to be added so I don't use it :-) I just add it every time... I hate getting the chain emails or if you dont send this then this will happen especially when it comes from co-workers!!

  5. Dear Kyria -

    I have always hated email etiquette. I will only send demands that must be met immediately, so obviously how those messages are percieved is not of any importance to me.

    Furthermore, as an IT professional I spent more repair time fixing email server connectivity issues than anything else, so the death of email will become a welcome release.

    Yours truly and forever,


  6. Actually I hate the phone callers. Todays emails should be phrased more like text messages than actual handwritten letters. I know you sent it to me so there's no need for a greeting or casual small talk. Tell me what you want and I can respond to it on my own time in my schedule. People who send an email then follow it up with a phone call when I haven't responded for half an hour annoy the piss out of me. I didn't respond because I'm busy with something else. leave me alone.

  7. Since I am a stay at home mom, I don't get any business emails. But, my pet peeve is those who "reply all" and those who don't email back!

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  9. Good post - good points raised.

    When I send an email to more than a couple of people, I put myself in the TO field and BCC everyone else.

    I find it really annoying when my friends send me forwarded things that have a list of all the places/email addresses it has already been.

    And YIKES! I hate that REPLY TO ALL feature and it is amazing how often people use it and I get mail from ??? for no interesting reason to me.

    This is a helpful and informative post and I hope lots of people see it... I am going to share it on Twitter.

  10. I love this post - thank you for writing it! So many people tell me I write the best emails. And, all I can think is, that's because I actually spell out "How R U?" Though, I will cop to using OMG and even OMFG probably far too often. ha.

    1. BTW, just read the Renegade Mothering post. First, THANK YOU for introducing me to her blog. I might be in love. Second, I'm all for letting each person have their opinion, even if it is dramatically different than mine. But, what's not cool is when people are total assholes about expressing their opinions. It's all about respect. Respect me and my space and be an adult in the way you talk about your views and I'll keep letting you come back to my blog. Otherwise, I'm marking you as SPAM. ha.

  11. I cannot stand when people hit reply all - seriously - you should be instantly fired for that! lol

    xoxo from Trinidad

  12. I think every school and business should have mandatory e-mail etiquette training. Kind of pathetic that it's necessary, but it is.

    My biggest pet peeves are emails that are in all caps or all lower case. Pretty much for the reasons listed above.


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!