Don’t suck at e-mail

These days, your first contact with your boss and coworkers is likely to be via e-mail. So make your first impressions count – don’t suck! Most people do and never realize why they don’t get a reply.

When your e-mail sucks, it gets skimmed and deleted or ignored. Here’s how to do e-mail right. If this checklist is too long for you, hit the first three and you’ll already be way above average.

1. Use the subject line! Put 2 to 7 words in it that summarize your reason for writing. If I’m searching for your e-mail, the key words you put in the subject line will help me find it and will set it apart from other e-mails from you if we e-mail each other frequently. Preface your subject with FYI if appropriate which tells the recipient no response is necessary.

2. Write three sentences only, most of the time. If one of those sentences is a question, make it the last sentence. Don’t ask more than one question. Three sentences is most important when you are starting a conversation. It shows you value your time and won’t squander it writing long passages about something I don’t care about, am not interested in or have not asked for. It shows you value my time also. It shows you understand that teamwork and communication is a conversation where the ball bounces back and forth between us with rhythm – like a game of ping-pong. Know that the longer your e-mail is — the more likely I am to postpone reading and replying. Your long e-mail is like a basketball pitched across the ping-pong table. It sucks.

email cartoon3. Use a signature with your contact information! If you make me hunt for that information, I dislike you already. It takes 5 min. to set up and shows you have a little concern for me and the ability to have your computer do what you want it to.

4. Spellcheck! And, if you are writing a critical e-mail, print it before sending it and read it out loud. You will catch any and every mistake that way.

5. Reply to important e-mails quickly. If you can’t provide a substantive answer immediately, acknowledge you received the e-mail and say you will write again as soon as you can.

6. Give a heads up using IM or VM, when you send an important e-mail. If you send me an e-mail you consider urgent or unusually important, give me a heads up in some other medium to make sure I’m on the lookout for your e-mail. I prefer instant message, but you need to know your boss’s preference (cell phone, text message, etc).

What good is technology7. Write again, if you don’t receive a reply. Checking to see if I’ve received your e-mail is not a nuisance – it shows you take responsibility for driving results and make no excuses. It shows you understand that I may receive a high volume of e-mail or have my attention splintered in many directions and need your assistance.

8. Use the phone if e-mail isn’t working. Please don’t tell me you haven’t received a reply to the e-mail you sent to so-and-so. Just pick up the phone. It shows you know that e-mail is just a tool and not everyone’s favorite, that you get the job done using whatever tool works best under the circumstances.

9. Take control of your e-mail client by learning keyboard shortcuts and filtering. This shows you understand efficiency with e-mail matters (it’s at the center of most jobs today).

10. Understand your boss’s preferences for what goes on e-mail versus IM and Intranet/wiki/project management system. Ask your boss about preferences for who should be cc’ed about what. You don’t want to be that guy that insists on wasting everyone’s time copying others unnecessarily.

Bonus points – never use an attachment when there is no compelling reason to do so. Attachments suck! Instead of copying and pasting information into an Excel spreadsheet or Word document, just paste right into an e-mail whenever possible.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Get the ebook! If you liked what you read here, and think you may want to refer back to this guide later, grab the Kindle version – we’re hoping you’ll thank us with a five-star review on Amazon if you found this material helpful. The ebook also includes our job search guide.

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Thanks to Beef Wellington for music clips (Fran C) and to Mark O’Sullivan for inspiration!



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  • It is so important to respond to emails quickly! If you fail to do this, you can miss out on so many opportunities and can altogether miss out. Also, like it says above, if you cannot respond to an email with an answer, just respond saying you will get back to them! That is so useful when it comes to acknowledgement of emails and someone trying to get ahold of you.

  • Composing a professional email could make a difference between a good impression and a bad one.
    You can understand a lot about the person by the way they write their email. Some people don’t take time to read emails carefully. They read them much faster than the person writes about them. Make sure you emails convey your message. but are also able to be read in a glance. Makes sense.

  • Throughout my life, e-mail has always been a formal setting; whether writing to a professor, applying for a job, or submitting an inquiry. I learned these skills at a young age because most e-mails that I received and read were professionally written. I naturally imitated the style and format, this left an imprint on what the purpose of an e-mail is to me. Even though my vocabulary was not vast, what was important was learning the formal style and format of an e-mail because it proved useful for the future.

    I agree with how the article emphasizes the importance of writing an e-mail. It not only shows your maturity, it also shows your writing ability in a professional setting. A well written e-mail takes effort and the effort spent is reflected in the style; even though the format may be correct, a poor choice of words or misspelling can ruin its elegance.

    The main reason for my job success is because of my e-mail writing ability. Despite not being part of the job description, I was made responsible for writing and responding to e-mails during my employment at the computer repair center on my university campus. Most of our repairs were Apple products and entailed e-mail communication with Apple repair warehouse facilities whenever a complication arose. With practice, e-mail can prove to be a life altering tool.

  • Writing a good email could make a difference You can read the soul of the person by the way he/she writes the email. Do they address you? Is there any personal things such as greetings to you? Are they explaining things or are they get to the point with no explanations? Are they caring or business-like?

    You can understand a lot about the person by the way they write their email. Most people do not take the time to read the email messages carefully. They read them much faster than the person writes about them. Go back and re-read the messages. I bet you come across with different interpretations and insights than your initial take.

  • All these tips are really important for making a good impression on clients, and it reflects that the organization you work for is efficient. The internal tips and tricks are really handy like the different preferences for what a boss wants. Forget about the aspect of brown nosing and trying to make a good impression; the most important thing is to make work an enjoyable interaction. Everyone is in the same boat, so why not make it less frustrating for everyone.

    I feel like the eighth tip is extremely important with today’s evolving work force. I am young and a borderline millennial and I can understand the anxiety of having to make phone calls, but it is efficient period. Making calls can be great for input on projects and finding solutions. Often times email doesn’t convey the message adequately enough.

    I currently work for Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Arizona, and I will have to share this great find.

  • During my sophomore year of high school and second year being involved in the student government, my Leadership(what my school called the student government) adviser introduced the importance of successful email writing skills after I sent out an email to administration that had “unprofessional” written all over it. Her advice was very similar to the points made in this lesson. She stated that using the subject line was essential when determining if your email would be taken seriously and responded to promptly. She stated how you should always have a greeting with the person’s name, a comma, and two line spaces before you would begin writing the actual email. The email body should have no spelling or grammar mistakes and should be concise without being rude, demanding, or informal. Lastly, she emphasized thanking the person you were contacting for their time and as the lesson mentioned, leaving your name and contact information.

    I believe every individual whether they’re a student or are already in the work force should be able to send professional, well structured emails as email has become one of the the most common methods of communication. I know that when I applied to a work study job I received all information regarding the day of my interview and eventually the job offer via email and now that I have the position everything is communicated through email. If I did not know how to properly write an email I believe I would not have gotten this job or I eventually would be fired.This lesson was extremely helpful to me for the purpose of working smart as when there are issues in my workplace and email is not alleviating the issue I know I have to be efficient and seek other communication methods to do my job successfully.

  • Keep the email short, and keep the email savvy. And don’t, whatever you do, DO NOT make spelling any errors. Oh god. Easily the best advice offered on this post.

    A couple years back, when applying for a job, I ended up having to email the manager of the store. You see, a handful of friends and I had decided to apply together, but none of us got any calls, and none of us received any job offerings. I will admit, it was a pretty competitive job. The store was new, shiny, and plastered right in the middle of the largest plaza in town. It was a healthy restaurant, and, since, well, everyone in America was on a diet, and since everyone applied claiming to be a dedicated health addict, we didn’t stand much of a chance, the inexperienced little tyros that we were.

    My friends all sent long, sappy emails about how their lives were dedicated to healthy eating, how much they loved quinoa, and how delicious broccoli smoothies were (with a side of kale)–and simply satisfying, too! They were great with people– fantastic communicators, they were– and excellent with a spatula and spoon (although there was nothing to flip, no spatula to be used. We’re talking about salads here. And they weren’t even eligible to cook.)

    I sent in three sentences– “Hello, my name is Irem Ersan. I am a recent applicant to your store, love poppy-seed salad, and need money. I am patiently waiting to hear back.Thank you for your consideration.” Okay, make that four.

    Guess who got the job?

  • Keep the email short and keep the email savvy. And don’t, whatever you do, DO NOT make spelling errors. Oh god. Easily the best advice offered on this post.

    A couple years back, when applying for a job, I ended up having to email the manager of the store. You see, a handful of friends and I had decided to apply all together, but none of us got any calls, and none of us received any job offerings. I will admit, it was pretty competitive job. The store was new, shiny, and plastered right in the middle of the largest plaza in town. It was a healthy restaurant, and, well, since everyone in America is on a diet, and since everyone applying claimed to be a dedicated health addict, we didn’t stand much of a chance.

    My friends all sent long, sappy emails about how their lives were dedicated to health, how much they loved quinoa, and how delicious the broccoli smoothies were that they made in the morning (with a side of kale)–and simply satisfying, too! They were great with people– fantastic communicators, the little critters, and would even settle for minimum wage.

    I sent three sentences– “Hello, my name is Irem Ersan. I am a recent applicant to your store, love poppy-seed salad, and would love to work there. Also, I’m a broke high school student desperately in need of money, waiting to hear back.Thank you for your consideration.” Okay, make that four.

    Guess who got the job?

  • This is exactly in line with my experiences in the workplace so far! One way to ensure that you won’t be taken seriously is to have spelling errors or poor formatting in your emails. The easiest way to ensure that the message will be neat is to keep it simple. This helps the other person to absorb the information at a glance and respond quickly!!

  • It is of utmost importance for an employee to present himself or herself in a way that is both professional and respectable. First impressions matter in the professional world and in many cases, one’s first impression with an employer or potential employer is over email or the phone. This applies to the way students should email professors as well.

    I had one professor who immediately lost a lot deal of respect from his students the first week of school. His grammar was terrible, he used texting shortcuts in his emails, words were misspelled, and whenever we emailed him, two and a half weeks would pass before we got a response. Taking what I have learned from both my experience with him and this article, I will change the formatting of my emails to streamline what I need accomplished

  • When I send an e-mail, I try to make it stand out as important. If I wouldn’t open it if it was sent to me, then the person that I send it to won’t either. E-mail is a great tool, however, face to face communication is still my favorite way of making sure that the other person has the information that I want them to have. E-mail is a good secondary form of communication.

  • Before I started my college classes I didn’t understand the
    importance of email. Really though my email existed for two reasons; one so I
    could make a Facebook and the second because I got tired of being asked by
    businesses for my email to be a member.
    I wouldn’t check it for several weeks just because all I would see in my
    inbox were notifications from Facebook that didn’t exist and the weekly sales
    paper from those businesses. I thought that email was a thing of the past; that
    everyone used texts. This lack of email-fluency was one of the worst traits I
    had entering into college.

    Although a college professor isn’t technically a boss, they
    are my superiors and I answer to them so I feel as if they can highlight how
    this has affected me. My first email, my first ever, was sent to my English
    1101 professor. She didn’t respond, and after reading this I wonder if she even
    read it.. I can countdown the steps above and outline how I messed each of them
    up. For starters in my subject line I typed my name. I know I know, I had no idea what I was doing. Secondly, I
    felt like I needed to write out the whole situation (which was I had an
    emergency and wasn’t able to attend class the next day to submit my paper),
    then I asked her multiple questions about what I should do as they came to me
    in afterthoughts.

    My third problem, out of the top three points here, was that
    I signed off as “Sincerely…”. At the time I thought it was great, but looking
    back on it I doubt she got that far. Over the weekend I sent the email three
    more times without any response. When I walked into class that Monday I was
    asked to stay after class. My first One-on-one session with my professor was a
    lesson over how to properly write emails. Although I’ve learned since then,
    this lesson would have saved me time as well as so much embarrassment if I knew
    of it!

  • I personally rely on emails quite frequently. I believe it is a good way to set up a time and day for a phone conversation. Now a days, we never know what we are going to be doing or if we will be busy when we have planned a phone conversation.

    I believe I have increased my emailing abilities over the past year, with high school and now going to school at University of Phoenix, you have to know how to make an email short and sweet and let it get right to the point. When emailing, you do not want to flood the entire page with information, because let’s be honest, no one is going to read that. Whenever I send out an email, I always leave my name and number, that way if the email was too confusing, they can contact me as soon as possible.

  • From this Article, I learned how to properly send an email and if it isn’t answered to not be afraid to pick up the phone, and if you don’t get a reply don’t be afraid to send another email. i also learned that it is ideal to create a signature for your emails. I also learned that I must reply to important emails quickly. I also learned to use the subject line– it’s the most important part of the email. I also learned to proofread my emails for accuracy and completeness.

    I already knew most of this stuff because at My University– California State University San Bernardino– if you do not write an educated and proper email you will be ignored and will get no response, your email will more than likely go to spam. I had to learn the hard way.

  • This lesson is very useful to some people in regards to communicating with others on the job. You will not always learn these types of valuable lessons in school. Most people learn these things by error. You will surely find yourself getting the type of attention you want by following these simple steps.

  • This is a wonderful tool to help people starting out at a new job that may not know quiet how to work their way around an email. I work at a hospital and getting a hold of my boss can be very difficult. Her main form of comunication is through email. So for me, learning how to create a good email was essential. So, thank you very much for all of the helpful tips.

  • My very first manager was the Vice President of Facility Services and he was a stickler for not only grammar and content, but also keeping things simple. He would be a fan of the 3 sentence or less bullet above as well as the phrase “Keep it Simple Stupid”, or K.I.S.S. method. Keeping things as simple, short, and concise as possible was the way he liked to keep things going.

  • This lesson is so, so important. It took me years to develop the habit of checking my email everyday, much less how to write an email properly. I worked as a finance intern in a congressional campaign office. Because so much of what we did at work was public outreach and done over email, perfecting my email etiquette was crucial. In addition to the points made above, you also have to be careful with not only what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. Impersonal interactions like emails and text messages can be tricky. Its so easy for the tone of your email to be misinterpreted. This was especially important when writing requests for donations to the campaign. You can’t come off as too demanding or pleading. Keep it clear, friendly, and professional.

  • Email is so important in the University setting and the job setting to keep people communicating on important projects. I have never been specifically taught how to write an email and I love the recommendations on this page because this is something we use daily and can really make a tremendous difference for employees in entry-level positions. It is important that we seem like we know what we are doing and we are able to be professional.

  • As the article mentions, email really is one of the first and primary modes of communication these days, so following these guidelines are really helpful. For me the most helpful advice is to write 3 sentences or less. I work with children, so writing long emails is tricky to begin with. That said, the longer the email, the easier it is for something can be misconstrued, missed altogether, or ignored. The 3 sentence rule helps me remember that anything that needs more than 3 sentences to explain should be a phone call. In addition, I have evolved this rule to determine that anything more than a paragraph is too long for a phone conversation and should be discussed in person. Implementing these rules has helped me maintain quality standards for communication.

  • I never realized how important e-mailing is until I graduated high school and started University. Suddenly teachers had office hours. Office hours were scary to me – talking one on one with professors in their office about my grades – so e-mailing became my best option.

    Except I see now that I sucked at writing them. Frequently they’d be paragraphs long, since I looked to impress my professors, I would include multiple questions so that they could answer them all in one go and I’d be done communicating with them for a while, and never did I ever include any signature with other ways to contact me.

    I’m glad that this lesson gives so many insightful ways to deal with e-mailing, because it’s going to be a critical skill for the rest of my life.

  • One of the first things we talked about when I got to college is how not to suck at email. If you expect to be taken seriously, this is seriously what you want to be reading.

  • This is one lesson that I had to learn the hard way, but will take with me for the rest of my life. My entire job revolves around e-mail communication. Before I started I had no previous training of proper email etiquette. I remember sitting next to my trainer on my first day on the job, I was not only nervous, but I was also a bit intimidated with the additional responsibilities I was given. My trainer told me to type an email to our local helpdesk and that is actually what I did. No subject line, no detailed information regarding what I needed or what I had already researched to assist in resolving the problem I was having. Once the email was sent she looked at me with the look like “did you just send that like that” she even asked “how will the helpdesk know what you are talking about, you did not include detailed information”? I was so embarrassed and knew I needed correct myself, and fast.

    All of the techniques listed in this article; subject lines, write three sentences only (or as straight to the point as possible), use a signature, spell check, reply quickly, send follow-up emails, use the phone, take control of your email (with shortcuts and filtering), and understand the needs of others are all things I have learned in the past years and incorporate in my daily life.

    Learning how to appropriately structure an email saved me from getting fired. I am still with the company after five years and I have even been promoted three times. As stated in the previous blogs, I’ve learned how to work smarter not harder.

    Monique Dawodu

  • I would highly recommend college students and those searching for jobs to take this advice and apply it. When someone sends me an email that follows these rules, I take note and it stands out to me. I can definitely tell when someone has poor email etiquette and it can be very distracting and unhelpful. Another helpful hint, do not change the font or color of the text in the email.
    The advice I found especially relevant was the rule regarding use of subject lines. I have wasted large amounts of time searching for an email I know I received, but can’t find because the subject line did not relate to the content of the email.
    Also, in regards to attaching a signature to the end of an email, be sure to only sign your name once. If you have an automatic signature, do not write your name before the signature.
    Spellcheck and quick response to emails show professionalism as well as attentiveness and high quality of work. It is important to send a prompt response to avoid the other person having to send a follow up email. However, since many people do not send follow up emails, it is sometimes necessary to email twice. It is easier for both parties to respond quickly instead of wasting more time sending follow up emails.

  • Over all, I never really thought about everything that needs to go along with an email. It is important for me to make sure that my grammar is correct and that their aren’t any major issues. It makes since to use less words for easy finding, I know for me that is one of my biggest issues with email. I can never find anything, and now I know why.
    After reading this I’m going to add a signature to my emails. I want whoever I’m communicating with to know that I value their time, and I want them to value mine.

  • I have to say that I liked the information about not being afraid to send a second email if one doesn’t receive a reply. Nor to use the phone an appropriate time after to check if they still haven’t replied.

  • I understand that in today’s society ‘everyone’ is impatient and time is of an essence; therefore, with that being said, I think Number 10 (Understand your boss’ preferences – or anyone) should be ranked higher. I say this because a haste message asking if your boss received an e-mail via another e-mail and then calling your boss seems to be a little over-the-top and quite possibly burdensome. In an emergency or urgent message, it is understandable, but outside that, I would tread with caution.

  • As a person who dreads new social media related interactions, this is a godsend.


Every time I read to contact someone who had potential influence over my life via his
    or her email I would panic. My thoughts raced from the reasonable worries of
    whether or not it would send to the completely irrational idea that my message
    would be posted somewhere on the internet as what not to do when composing
    emails. However, this article has soothed the savage beast that was my anxiety.


My favorite aspect of the aptly named “Don’t suck at emails” was the
    list. It really helped me be able to format an email properly without typing
    out a mess in order to get my point across. Keep it clean and simple, but most
    importantly to the point without wasting time. Another plus to the list is the
    ability to check off each step to make sure my emails don’t sound too
    unprofessional for someone who is, well, new to the whole work game.

    So, thank you for appeasing my anxiety over emails. Perhaps there will be one on
    comment etiquette for me to read up on next time.

  • This article is great! It’s truly enlightening, and I’m already able to see where I stand in terms of technology messaging in the professional world. I usually check my grammar for any flaws, but I’ve never considered sending the the message again if I don’t receive a reply.

  • This article was pretty helpful for emailing in a professional environment. After reading this, I’ve been able to check off a number of things that I am already doing correctly. I have also been able to note things that I haven’t been making sure to do – like adding contact information and a signature at the bottom – that I can now make changes to. It’s also good to know that checking up on an email by sending a text heads up or emailing again when there is no response is a safe thing to do. I am always worried if I am pestering somebody.

  • With technology becoming the main source of communication, it is important to learn how to write a proper email. This article was great advice and i will refer to it when writing emails to my professors in the future

  • This a great article! I remember a time when I didn’t efficiently use my email and I ended up biting myself in the butt because of it. I sent a contact an email with little time to write it and I forgot to proofread. I had to reply, apologizes for the amount of mistakes I had in that email.

    Now after reading this article, I’ll be able to efficiently use email to my advantage and establish a good reputation among my colleagues.

  • This is a very important life lesson to learn. Though some in the older generations do not accept technology as readily as the younger generations internet and email are playing significant roles not only in our daily personal lives but now more than ever in our daily professional lives. In the past couple decades alone computers have gone from the size of an entire room, to pocket sized as most people have the capability to receive emails on their smart phones.

    Learning how to write a correct email can save your career. Today in the younger generation many young adults resort to slang when writing a message; i.e. lol, rofl, haha, etc. This is disrespectful not only does it show your boss that you cannot speak to him/her correctly it shows your lack of education and communication skills. Stand out from the crowd and woo your boss with your talents.

    Be short sweet and to the point. As i have ventured into my college career, I have had to communicate with a professor via email multiple times. The points made on this blog is so true. Think about it your boss doesn’t want lengthy emails. Chances are he/she receives more emails in a day than you do in a week. Keep it short a sweet, and to the point so your boss doesn’t end up wasting time trying to find the important details in your email.

    Finally, I think that taking credit is everything. So write your name! It does not matter if your email has your name in it. At the end of your email you should leave your first name, last name, and title. It shows that you are proud of who you are and the work you’ve been doing and your not afraid to let your boss know it. It’s common courtesy and a very good way to make your self pop in the eyes of your boss.

    This blog, “Don’t suck at email,,” is very true. Listen to what they have to say and apply it in your life at your career. These tips will only help you succeed so do the right thing and learn to excel at writing emails!

  • This is a great article and oh so important in today’s work setting. Every morning I open my email
    and there are (no joke) about 50 emails that were sent out to the entire team of 50 people, with the individual who actually needs the email being cc’d… I am not sure how that makes sense to those
    sending these emails, but it does make for a very frustrating situation. Likewise, there was a recent bout of confusion on my team, as an individual included people from various departments
    on an email that should not have involved them. This led to a waste of a lot of time,
    energy, frustration, and made our customer question our competence. I think I will share this article with my coworkers. 🙂

  • This checklist is very important to follow, not only with your boss, but also when emailing college professors. One of my first college professors gave my class advice about emailing and most of that advice was summarized here. Spelling errors can be a big pet peeve with some people and you never want to misspell your boss’s or professor’s name!

    College has taught me that it is very important to check my email frequently and to keep my emails short, sweet, and to the point. When I need to email my professors about a lesson, asking a bunch of questions and creating a very long email confuses them. They do not have the time to figure out what I am trying to ask them. By making sure I know what I need to ask them, I can easily type a short email and get a prompt response from them.

  • I find it very inconvenient when I receive emails that are long and complicated with no white space between paragraphs or no paragraphs to separate the main ideas.

    When there is too much information and too many questions or answers in the email it takes more time to process the information and highlight what is important. By only communicating what is important the email recipient will not miss the main message and will be more likely to remember.

  • Out of all of these points, my boss is very particular about using spellcheck. There isn’t anything that frustrates him more than any kind of documentation to be spelled incorrectly. For him, it is extremely unprofessional to author anything with typos, bad grammar, or misspelled words. He would agree with the article. Just press F7 and take a minute to make sure everything is spelled correctly!

  • This article was very informative on how to write e-mails. I have been writing e-mails for a long time but I could use these tips to improve my e-mails. I have been writing all my e-mails in a nice way and to the point. I have also written only about 3 sentences per e-mail. I have also not received responses from e-mails I have sent which in this article it is explained why.

  • This is a really nice advice of how to write e-mails. I
    think before become addictive to the emails, it’s very important to consider
    your boss preferences. I used to have a job in an office where my boss like me
    to write a very detailed email and as a main tool. Then, when I change job, my
    current boss was totally inverse to her. He wants me to be specific, exactly
    like you mentioned at the top, and he preferred me to use the phone instead of
    the email. So, it is really hard sometimes too adapted when you start a new job,
    but if you clear your boss expectations since the beginning, this could save
    you time and energy that at the end would help you keep your boss happy.

  • I worked at an animal shelter this summer and I had to send a lot of emails asing for donations. These tips are great for how to send emails and not frustrate people. Great article.

  • This article was pretty good and very informative. I haven’t done a job like this before but I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind. This can actually be applied to some teachers from what I can tell as well.

  • Now I know I’m doing the right thing when emailing future employers. I just type a quick statement then send. They respond so quickly I was worried for a moment, I’m proud of myself for accomplishing an employers wants. A short effective email.

  • This lesson is extremely vital in our workplaces today. I am constantly dealing with e-mails and there is so much that you can tell about someone through their e-mail etiquette. Learning proper strategies for communicating in this realm will help you no matter where you work.

    I had just started a new job working for a doctor’s office and we had a messaging system within our database. I had made a mistake that was brought up in a message sent out to the office. I was writing a reply message, stating how I had messed up and how sorry I was for the error, when a co-worker looked over and scolded me for the message’s content. She pointed out that, in my effort to be apologetic, I had repeated myself three times in very similar sentences and had written a message that was way too long. She helped me edit it down to necessary information and it taught me a valuable lesson regarding messaging etiquette. If I had sent my original message, I would have looked very silly to my entire office and I am glad I learned from my mistake.

    Messages and e-mail will never disappear and are extremely vital to our careers. We must pay attention to lessons like this article in order to keep ourselves in high demand and up to date with our job communication avenues.

  • I enjoyed reading the article because most college professors say in their syllabus “use proper email etiquette, but never say what that is. Now I know how to write proper emails to my professors and how to email potential jobs. I am glad that now I won’t be one of those students that teachers complain about during class because they wrote them a ridiculous email last night. Thank you for offering this information to students and to people looking for jobs.

  • I believe this article shows great value to humanity. In today’s society; e-mail is becoming more relavent in schools, business, etc. The proper etiquette needs to be established. E-mail can be misinterpreted so easily because you cannot pick up the emotion factor a one on one conversation can have. It is important to keep e-mail short and relative to topic. As I become more involved in the world, my time needs to be considered, as well as the person I am emailing.

  • I found this article very informative. I work on a research
    team at my university and it is completely necessary for me to stay in contact
    with the other members of my research team and the research head, email being
    the main form of communication. I am going to start applying these principles
    to my emails in the future.

  • Every day in class I constantly hear my professors always reminding students to present themselves professionally. In the past i never would think to write another email if I do not get a response.
    Before and during college I had to write numerous emails regarding transcripts, jobs, and other important items. Writing an professional email is a very important because you soon realize this is alike an interview. The person receiving the email will look at this email and judge everything about you. Essentially how you write an email determines your credibility. Without learning this i would have problems in trying to get into job positions or organizations at which I applied for. Especially being apart of my schools SGA and how I could help my campus community in more ways.

  • I really enjoyed reading this article
    because it cemented how I already feel about email communication and
    gave great advice that I would have otherwise not known. When
    communicating with a potential employer I always try to keep my email
    as short and to the point as possible. I try to keep it as
    professional as if I were talking directly to them. I also end my
    email by thanking them for their time and consideration. I try to
    show that I am serious about the job and want to leave a good

    I also found this article interesting
    because it gave advice for situations that I would have not known how
    to handle. I found it useful to know that employers do not find it
    annoying or bothersome to have the same email emailed to them twice,
    if they have not already responded. I also would not have thought to
    add my contact information to the bottom where I sign my name.
    However, it does make sense to have contact information easily

    This article was helpful and I will
    definitely be keeping in mind the advice that the author gives so
    that I can use it in my future job.

  • In an era where we are relying more on technology, this was
    truly an eye-opening article, full of advice practical for the increasingly
    competitive work environment. The most useful piece of information I found was
    to not be afraid to send another email if you don’t get a reply. I actually
    encountered an experience where sending a reminder email earned me a shadowing
    position with a surgeon.

    My university released a list of physicians willing to have
    students follow them while they cared for their patients, and a particular orthopedic
    surgeon caught my attention. I emailed the surgeon in hopes to arrange some
    sort of shadowing experience, but after several days, I received no reply. At
    first, I was hesitant to email him again thinking I would be a nuisance to him
    and his busy schedule. I thought to myself, perhaps he is just really
    preoccupied; I mean, he is a surgeon after all.

    However, I was really determined to shadow him for orthopedic
    surgery truly interested me. I eventually convinced myself to email him once
    again, asking if he had received my previous email. Although I was initially nervous
    about doing it, I received a reply from the doctor in a few days informing me
    that he had received my first email but merely hadn’t had the time to reply.
    But my second email reminded him to do so and he gladly invited me over to his
    clinic to shadow him. What I originally thought would be bothersome to the
    surgeon turned out to secure me this shadowing experience of a lifetime.

  • In this day and age, e-mail is one of the most important forms of communication and if it isn’t done right, then you can be sure to get an earful. Especially in a professional environment! In the current job I have now, the person that occupied the position before me was fired because she always sent e-mails with typos, insufficient information, and she never included her signature (which was requested by our boss).

  • Great advice! I have received so many bad emails in the past and it’s always a frustrating experience. I’d like to think that the receivers would put in as much time as I take to compose, but that is definitely not always the case. Poorly typed emails have lowered my opinions of professors in the past and, knowing how easily my own opinion has been swayed, I always make sure to use straight-forward wording and spell check.
    My dad offered some advice once, saying it didn’t matter where I went to school but how much my employers liked my personality. Over the years I have been more swayed by his advice and I think putting your best effort into every little thing, even something that seems simple like email, is key to job success.

  • This is a really important guide for all professionals! I have a nasty habit of not responding promptly to emails after I read them on my iPhone. I missed out on a really awesome opportunity because I forgot to reply to the email saying that I was interested. In the last year or so I’ve gotten a lot better at being a responsible email writer but this brought to light a few different points that I had not considered. Being a college senior, I’ll definitely be showing this site to friends who are going to be looking for jobs and applying to post-graduate schools!

  • This is a very good article. I didn’t know all of the details about emailing correctly in college until I made a few mistakes. For instance, when contacting a professor or meeting a potential employer I always made the mistake of never using the subject line, which is a huge no no. So, a lot of the time I wouldn’t get a reply simply because the person was busy and had tons of emails and couldn’t distinguish mine from the rest or because it looked like spam to them.

  • These quick tips for a successful and professional email were surprisingly helpful for me. They exposed several weaknesses in the way I have conducted email communication in the past but also highlighted several of my emailing strengths!

    When I began being recruited by college rowing programs during my junior year of high school I had to learn to communicate with coaches via email and present myself in a way that gave the impression that I was serious about my sport and that I had the potential to be a good member of their team. Thankfully I had my parents to aid me initially in writing emails back and forth between various coaches.

    The biggest flaw in my emails that was pointed out by these tips was that I often try to ask all of my questions or convey all of my concerns in one email making them long and I suppose maybe boring for the recipient to read. This is an issue I intend to address with future online communication in order to create more of a conversational styled email.


  • Luckily, I learned I don’t completely suck at e-mail! I sign all my e-mails with my name, but I didn’t think about adding other contact information. Thank you for this, I will definitely be using it!

  • No one likes a long story speaking or email. It’s important to make your point and be brief about it. You can go into more detail if needed but leave that to a face-to-face encounter. Too many questions or too much information will get lost in a long drawn out spiel. Great article!

  • I think that bosses had preferences toward how to send e-mails too, but other than that this was a great article. I know some employers prefer short and to the point emails but others like my last boss actually preferred paragraphs, he always said he wanted me to be very detailed regarding a few things.

  • This is pretty good advice. After getting my on-campus job i quickly learned that most of the communication would be through email with both my bosses ( i have 2) and my co-workers. At the beginning of our training our immediate boss notified us that the preferred way to contact him was through email, which means that he tends to get a lot throughout the day. So if i need a question answered i will email it to him. A couple of days of no reply and i send a followup email. If there still isn’t a reply, i will either call or visit him during his office hours. They’re specifically set up for such occasions. Having this job pretty much forced me to get accustomed to using email frequently so now i won’t feel like a baby elephant when trying to email future bosses.

  • This is a great article……the article was easy to understand and very informative. I feel that anyone with any business major needs to take a college course on how to send appropriate emails. Also it is good to know what types of emails are appropriate for certain situations

  • Knowing how to word emails in the business world is like speaking articulately before a crowd of people. If a word is mis-spelled or grammatical errors can be found in an email, it can potentially place a negative stereotype on the person sending the email. Also, knowing who you are sending the emails to is another important factor. For example, if the email is only suppose to go to Bob in accounting, make sure that it does. if you place in the “to” section of the email addressed to “all”, guess what? you’ve just included everyone in the entire organization in an email.

  • I find this article very informative. I has given me more insight and has made me more aware of what I send via email and also how to look more competant to the person receiving the emails. This is very good info and I truly enjoed reading the article.

  • I found this article to be very informative. In my line of business I find myself communcating majorily by email. The tips, tricks, and pointers are very usefu!. These tools should be used when sending personal and bsiness emails. So glad I made time to read and enjoy this article.

  • EVERYONE’s time is valuable and because email is one of the most prolific job tools today, getting the bottom line up front (BLUF) is essential for effective communications and time management. I used to be the sergeant in charge of a Commander’s support group and you could hear the blood boiling in the office as he/she would rant about the number of ridiculous emails they had to go through before they could even tackle the in box of executive/project summaries. (During my tenure the commanders shifted in ranks and genders) Do your boss a favor and don’t waste his or her time with un-actionable junk email… The above 10 tips will help…

  • This article was great! I email a lot with my current employer and potential employers. My emails are always short and to the point, but I always wondered if maybe they were too short. Now I know they’re not! All I have to do now is include a signature. It didn’t register that that is one of the most helpful things I can add to my emails.

  • This is superb advice and it ceases to amaze me how many people miss the importance of both professionalism and emphasis that needs to be placed on attention to detail within — especially — all business/work related e-mails. Great advice.

  • I have seen what it can do when someone doesn’t understand what email is and the professional way to communication within an email. Each of the points listed above are great and show what knowledge can do and allow someone to grow as an employee.

  • The information provided is valuable to anyone who uses electronic mail. One lesson I learned years ago was to proofread my work, then remove the emotion from the missive before sending. I was an operations trainer at the time and my manager gave me this advice. Providing facts, imparting knowledge, and not getting emotional improved my communication skills with the teams I provided training to.

  • I think that this is great advice and one all should read if dealing with e-mails.I wish I had read an article like this when I first started sending e-mails for work as I had to figure things out on my own as I went. I am not that e-mail savvy but I try to make sure when I do that they are to the point and short. I think e-mail can be time consuming sometimes when a simple phone call can often get the job done faster.

  • This is a great site for good advice to manage your busy life at work and keeping up with technology, which can sometimes be overwhelming. Emails can set you behind at work and may be time consuming. These advices are great ways to improve email management.

  • THis is great advice…People need to use this more often because it makes me mad when people do not understand how to even write and email.

  • This is valuable and useful information to apply. A good tool to assist when sifting through the details of ones email. I appreciate the statement on attachment.

  • All of this is solid advice, and I have always followed it (though without being conscious of doing so) when I write my e-mails whether they’re to friends or professional contacts. To anyone who rarely/never gets e-mail responses, this is pure gold!

  • I was recently hired as a student employee at the University of Texas at El Paso, and this advice would have came in handy! Its true, the first time that I had any contact with my current boss was through email. It always takes me quite some time to compose an email because I always have to re check what I write and make sure I’m getting my point across without turning the email into an essay. I think the best advice that I found here was to use a signature. I have never included that in my emails and I am going to start doing so. Also, I’ll remember to never ask more than one question and to try and keep my emails to no more than three sentences. Great stuff!

  • I work in the beverage industry and email is a critical part of our daily communications. I had never seen them all written out but those have always been the unspoken rules of those of us that frequently use email. These are the things that are expected and appreciated by upper level management. There were a few good things I learned from the reading as well thank you for the insight.

  • All the advices are great! Most employers are busy and sometimes overlook your email. If it is important, pick up the phone and either text or call him/her to follow up on the email. At a previous job, the excuse I heard the most at Staff Meeting was, “I sent you an email, but you never reply.” Boy, every time the employer heard that excuse, his ears get so red..lol..and the funny thing is, nobody even noticed it except me. So when the employer never replied to the email, does it mean you don’t have to do the work. Of course not! You find a way to get his/her or her attention so that the job can be done on a timely manner. No excuses!

  • Great words of wisdom. More people need to read this because I feel a lot of companies, schools, etc level of professionalism has lowed significantly. 

  • I am excited to start using these tools in my new job, I will be emailing lots of important people and it somewhat scares me to think about how I come off to them and I don want to waste there time, so the three sentences max. with a question at the end really will help me.  Also not being afraid to contact them in some other form of communication (IM, phone call, or txt message).

  • I really apreciate the utility of this adivice because the only form of communication I have with my supervisor is through e-mail and I often find myself wondering if it is professional enough.  I think that the recommendation to follow up on an unreturned e-mail is great because it is something I have felt a little warry of doing but at the same time I want to make sure action is being taken on things that are important.  We cannot deny the importance of e-mail in the workplace and I think this is a nice set of guidelines, I’m a sucker for resources when I’m in doubt about what to do.

  • How I wish I had read this about 2 months ago. While scouring the internet for internship opportunities I came across a few that I found interesting. Unfortunately, instead of sending off a pithy e-mail explaining my interest, I sent a rather long and tedious cover letter. No wonder I never heard back from them! I was luckier the second time around with another company. I made sure to have an appropriate subject and a short paragraph portraying my interest (basically all this great advice written by Eric Shannon). I not only heard back from then within an hour, but I also was commended on how professional and ‘to-the-point’ I was. I highly recommend taking Shannon’s advice to heart. Not only will you yield better results, but people will start taking you more seriously.

  • Personally, I believe this is great advice. Once an individual is of college age, it’s time to properly write emails. This advice is not only great for writing emails to professors and advisors but also to future and current employers. 

  • This is a very important message, my anthropology professor told me the same advice. Sending emails have become the most used form of communication and so they should be structured well and not written as if the email was a text message. It should have a clear message.

  • This is really good advice, I don’t know how many emails i have sent that get no response. i think these tips are great and can really help me be a better emailer.

  • In the corporate world being clear concise and getting to the point is very important. Emails that are to length are quickly left for later in the work day make sure you are writing a message that will be read and responded to asap

  • In the real world, people don’t read emails that are five miles long. This is especially true when the email isn’t identified in the subject line as relevant to something going on at the time.  At one point, I sent a rather lengthy email about an issue we were having at work, and NO ONE, including my boss, read it. I was told later that it would have been deemed much more important if I had just identified the issue in the subject.

  • This was a helpful and interesting take on e-mail. I never really thought about a three sentence limit to my emails, I tend to try and explain myself a lot in, e-mail, however when people are receiving 100+ e-mails a day, brevity seems like a good choice.

  • In a previous job I worked with email a lot, and this was because our organization had several locations throughout the U.S. and in order to reach out to all the management involved in our projects we had to make sure each one was CC’ed on the appropriate emails so this is a great tip. I especially agree with the signature tip because it is frustrating to get an email that you want to call the person back about and they have no phone number or name on their signature to look them up.

  • I found very interesting the importance of a brief e-mail, since it transmits an idea more precisely and makes the recipient to lose not that much time. Likewise, I liked the idea about adding a tag to the subject description, so the recipient can know the importance of an e-mail or if it is just some message that is not that relevant. In general, this lesson is simple but it really helps to develop excellent communication skills.

  • I have learned that keeping emails short and simple are the best ways to get information from someone. Also knowing that email is just a tool and making a phone call should be used as a follow-up to email. Communication is key in getting projects done and working together as a team.

  • Learning how to send proper emails to Professors, Peers, Colleagues, and Bosses is vital. Making sure you have the proper titles and heading as well as a signature. Also, using spell check as well as proofreading for any mistakes. Since online communication is fairly dominate in the workplace and schools it is important to have practice good skills in regards to emails.

  • My inbox is constantly full of newsletters and emails for group projects and meeting and this and that, I know from this experience that having a descriptive subject line is of the utmost importance. If the subject doesn’t seem important and/or I don’t recognize the email address right away the email is bound to be deleted without even being opened.  I also know that when I open an email and see a wall of text I’ll go read my other emails first because I don’t want to put the effort into reading everything and answering a million questions. That just sucks.  In the end, being able to email effectively and efficiently is an important skill.

  • When sending emails it is very important to put something in the subject line that catches the person’s attention and lets them know how important the email is and what will be in the body of the email. Most importantly when sending an email, is to make sure to use spell check, and not write like you talk or text.

  • This is definitely something we are taught with every class in college. Each semester I get new professors with different syllabii but the most important thing is always the same- how to contact your professors. They do not have time to search through 100 different emails for your contact information to respond to you. It all has to be in plain sight or they will just move on and never respond to your email. 

  • It is definately important to send professional and appropriate emails. Perspective bosses are always looking for flaws and that can mean their immediate judgment of you as a professional individual.

  • Learning how to send emails caught my attention. Nowadays, most communication is online, it is important to be able to stand out and be professional all at the same time. Especially with the social network phenomenon, most people use shorthand to convey a message but these rules need to be remembered. These tips are great since most of the time a student has to learn this the hard way! I personally did.

  • As a first year colege student, I have learned that e-mail is the ideal way of communicating with instructors.  Whether I am confused about a homework or writing assignment, or wishing to gain more information about a particular service club, e-mail is the easiest and most efficient way of communicating. Being involved in service work and greek life I am constantly receiving important information about meeting times and announcements, so it is very crucial to check your e-mail! 

  • I always use a the subject line to let them know what I am want or talking about. Always do a spell check, most people do not use this and when reading their emails, it just doesn’t make any sense at all. If they do not respond then email them one more time if still no answer call them. If it’s important you should just call in the first place.

  • Always use a subject line! I hate when it when I’m looking at my email and I don’t know who it’s from and there is no subject! I learned a long time ago when I was attempting to email my professor about an exam and send him many different emails that he never answered because they didn’t have a subject line. The next day I went to class and asked if he had gotten my emails to which he replied “if there is no subject line and I’m not familiar with who’s sending it I delete the email”. Needless to say I learned my lesson. 

  • Through the classes i have attended I have learned a great deal about electronic communication. While the use of slang is an obvious don’t, tone of voice is an issue that most of the time gets overlooked. If one were to use the wrong tone it could put the reader off and create friction in the work place. all of the tips above are excellent to remember in all work conversations.

  • During my internship this last summer the reception would send out multiple e-mails a week. Her spelling and grammar were terrible and everybody in the office talked about it. I have learned through her mistakes. Now I always reread my e-mails, post appropriate subject lines, and always add my contact information at the bottom of the e-mail. I have learned that in order to be a professional, I need to act like one in every aspect of my life.

  • It is important to not respond to emails the smae way respond to text messages. Some people myay forget and use slang grammar such as u, str8, smh when texting. This is not a great way of showing professionalism when sending emails for your employer.

  • I have made some of these mistakes in some of my past emails. Sometimes I just skip the Subject line and just go straight to what I have to say in the message. Recently, I have been better about putting something there for the person to see what the message is about.

  • E-mail has become one of the most effective methods of communication in the workplace. In my experience, my inbox is filled with messages from random websites and so I quickly skim through the subject lines looking for important messages. To me, whatever a person writes in the subject line is extremely important. Also when people don’t use signatures I don’t want to go searching for phone numbers or their names. Use of signatures makes e-mails more efficient. Spelling and grammar errors are extremely distracting to the true message of the e-mail. Trying to decipher what the person meant is tedious. Everyone should follow these e-mail rules in order to eliminate confusion and maintain the value of e-mail.

  • Email at my work is number one prior it. If an email is not answered in time then my company can loose a account to one of our competitors.  My boss is on top sending me leads and his style is that I respond right away that i have accepted the lead.

  • Email seems to be the main choice of communication. I know it is imperative to be clear and direct. Flowery messages that are ridiculously long immediately lose importance and the reader’s interest. This lesson reminded me that I am not the only person out there looking to communicate and if I want my message read, I better do it right!

  • I believe this lesson is one of the most important lessons to learn! I despise nothing more than receiving an e-mail with bad grammar or missed punctuation. I tend to make an impression of the person sending me the e-mail, and if it includes these things, the impression is never good. I always try my best to make a good impression when I send an e-mail to anyone, the last thing I want is for them to get a bad impression about me. 

  • This is so true!  From my expierence, email is one of the most practical and convenient way of communication across any company organizational chart; you can track down a conversation, project, and it could even be used as evidence in case a question/concern arises.

  • In my personal experience, I have had a very good usage of the e-mail, but I think that we could add to the checklist that if you are e-mailing to your boss or to another important person such as a teacher or a school you should write as clearly as possible, avoiding contractions to make your e-mail more formal, so that the person who will receive it will take you seriously.

  • One thing that could be added to this article is the importance of not writing in slang or using acronyms that are hard to interpret. Your boss or co workers may not understand the same abbreviations that your friends may relate to. It is best to use words that are widely known, instead of trying to short hand emails. This could cause confusion, and it could also mean going back and forth with correspondence, which can become frustrating.

  • What I find most interesting about this article is the advice to not make an email more than three sentences long. I always think more is less, but the reverse holds true for emails. It’s best to respect people’s time and not shove information in their faces.

  • From my personal experience I had some hard times with composing emails so that they will have all the needed info but won’t be overloaded. Especially when I have to write to professor or someone like my boss and ask something and be sure that this email won’t be lost in many other emails received by my professor or boss. Also I want to sound professional and not too demanding, since the receiving person does not hear or see you you have to be very careful in word choice. But these tips are very helpful and I will try using them.

  • I found numbers 2 and 7 especially helpful. I now know to make the e-mails short and sweet, and to not feel like a nuisance by sending more than one e-mail if necessary. I plan to start implementing these tips into my e-mails immediately! Thanks!

  • It is essential to be professional and consistent with emails. Emails can open many doors professionally if they are used correctly. It is important to be brief and highlight the important issues. 

  • I learned that the first lesson is very important. You have to put why you are emailing someone otherwise your email may go un-noticed. I learned this when I emailed one of my professors. I did not say the reason why I was emailing them so they never bothered to look at my message.

  • I especially like number 2….write 3 lines….people get turned off by rambling.

    Make it short and to the point