Business Email Etiquette

By  Doris Lowell

Email is an important communication tool for today's business, but sadly many employees lack basic email etiquette and this reflects poorly on the company. Employees who send unprofessional emails to clients, or worse still - personal emails from company accounts, can easily make your business look bad. It is important your employees know how to write a professional email and what types of emails should and should not be sent from company email accounts.

Email etiquette, sometimes referred to as netiquette in broad terms, is a complicated thing. It's certainly not appropriate to ignore email, especially from individuals, but we all get busy at times and may be able to do no more than to acknowledge the receipt of emails and promise to write in more detail at a later point.

Ideally all businesses should enact an Email Policy and make sure their staff have read it and are aware of the "do's and don'ts" of using this powerful communications method and when it is inappropriate to use company e-mail and the Internet for personal purposes.  It is advisable that staff sign-off stating they have read and agreed to such a policy.

Apart from being a communications device, email is also a marketing tool and as such all staff need to realize that a poorly worded, ill-constructed message sends an image too. Companies that take email communications seriously often ensure their staff have received business writing training. Again, the immediacy of email makes it too easy to shoot off an email and then regret the action thereafter. Act in haste, repent at your leisure, as the saying goes.

Here are a few Email Etiquette tips for your staff:

Keep it short: Remind your employees to be clear and concise when sending business email. Emails are meant to communicate a message in a short professional manner and recipients may be reluctant to read a very lengthy email in its entirety.

Use the grammar/spellchecker: Always make sure your employees use proper grammar and spelling in their emails. Nothing is more unprofessional than typos and improper grammar in business correspondences. All employees should proofread every email before they send it.

Respond in a day: Employees should aim to reply quickly, preferably within one business day. Customers, clients, and other business contacts sending emails usually do so because they want a quick response. Responding quickly to questions or concerns helps to strengthen your business’s professional image.

Avoid large attachments: Large file attachments (over 3MB) can slow an email - or worse still - get it bounced or returned undelivered. If you must send a large file for business purposes make sure the recipient knows ahead of time so they are expecting it - or better still, use a recognized 3rd party "send file" site like or  (There are many freely available online - simply search for 'send file' or 'drop file.')

Don't abbrv: Avoid abbreviations, emoticons, or other information unrelated to the matter at hand.

Don't fast FWD: Employees should also be discouraged from forwarding chain emails as they are unprofessional and run the risk of containing viruses.

Remember, email is a great servant but a terrible master, ensure your staff follows proper email etiquette and your correspondences will be professional and welcomed by the recipient.

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