Email Dos & Donts

photo by: Aymane Remmal

Personally, I love email. Professionally, I've come to regard email the way most people view going to the DMV. You have to do it to get what you want but there's always too much involved for what should really be an easy thing... forms to fill out, lines, rules, etiquette, overcrowding, people with attitudes for no reason...

Sigh. But email isn't all bad. When used for good, not for evil, it's a great tool to advance your career.

It's a quick and easy way to interact with coworkers, connect with people you won't usually talk to and show your personality and skills.

It's also a quick and easy way to make yourself look like a fool.

(People have been fired over emails. Is that what you want to tell your mom the next time you call home? That an email did you in? That you were thwarted by Outlook? Don't be that guy.)

  • add some personality (Be smart, witty and charming.)
  • use adjectives and adverbs
  • be clear and concise
  • spell check and proofread. Then spell check again
  • get to the point (People don't have all day.)
  • end with next steps and/or questions
  • keep it professional. (Save all of that banter for awkward elevator rides.)
  • follow up if you don't hear back within a day or two. "Hey, just checking in about..." 

  • expect people to read between the lines and figure out what you mean
  • use multiple or difficult to read typefaces or colors
  • use emoticons, ALL CAPS or !!!! (Even one ! is too much. This is an office, not a monster truck rally)
  • use slang, curses or unconventional spelling
  • say anything flirty, sexist, racist, homophobic or political (even if they're doing it)
  • email anything you don't want in writing
  • send out invites to your band's show/charity walk/ birthday party/ thing no one cares about
  • be sarcastic or flippant (they often come off the same in writing: rude)
  • overuse the reply all button
  • ignore emails. Always reply, even if it's a simple "Ok."