Too much email

Over the last few years we’ve had an increase in questions regarding the use and abuse of email. Here are seven really basic – yet critical etiquette rules of email that you need to follow:

1. Keep the text simple.

Use a black, 10-12 point font – Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman or similar. Save your favourite shade of purple and the 14 point flowery font for your personal emails if you must use them at all. They are hard to read, and look unprofessional. Don’t worry about 10 point being too small to read for some people – they can adjust it at their end if that is an issue.

2. Use upper-lower case.

Just like in a normal letter!


b) all lower case looks like you don’t care.

3. Don’t use cc as a weapon.

Sometimes people will cc someone’s superior to send the passive-aggressive message, “Your boss knows I sent this to you, so you better not ignore it.” All this really does is creating friction between you and the other person. If you have an issue with someone, deal with it face to face. Don’t play games.

4. Use the phone!

In difficult situations, respond to an email with a phone call whenever possible. Issues are almost always resolved faster.

5. Spell check everything!

It only takes a second.

6. Acknowledge every email within 4 hours

Even if you can’t provide the senders with the information they need, let them know you’ve received their message.

7. Don’t write anything you don’t want the whole world to see.

Once it’s left your computer, it’s out of your control, so be careful!

There’s a lot more, of course, and we’ll try to get to them all eventually. The way in which you compose your email – the words and formatting you choose – says as much about you as the content. It’s very easy, if you’re not careful, to have a ‘tone’ in your email that you don’t intend. It really is worth taking the extra few moments to do it right.

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