How to Communicate Professionally Over Email

For young professionals, communicating over email is a constant struggle. Is your tone being well received? Did you use too many exclamation points? Was there a certain faux pas you committed without realizing it? These questions are universal. A study by found that 75% of workers have never spoken to colleagues about professionalism over email. Not a lot of people know what they’re doing when it comes to email! Luckily, creating a professional demeanor over email is fairly easy as long as you follow a few quick rules.

1.    Double-Check for Grammar

We write this point first not because it is the most likely to be forgotten, but because it is by far the most important. No matter what ideas you have or how you have formatted your email, no professional will take something seriously that has spelling and grammar mistakes. I like to use Grammarly to check my emails, but as long as you are at least double-checking for mistakes you will be okay. Even if occasionally a mistake slips through, a good faith effort will no doubt improve your email communication.

2.    Format Correctly

There are a few key formatting choices to make sure you include in every email. The first is a relevant subject line. Too often young employees either forget to include a subject line or choose one irrelevant to the main email. Then, include a quick “Hello *insert name*” followed by a body paragraph and ending remarks. I like to go with “Best, *insert name*”. At some point, once you know these rules well you can break them, but until then it is best to be safe with your formatting. Remember, it is the content of your email that matters so try to keep a simple format.

3.    Know Who You are Emailing

Although the format should generally stay the same, it is vital to understand that different levels of colleagues require different levels of formality. While it is never okay to write anything risqué in an email, an email to coworker can be less structured than an email to the VP of your company. It is okay to send an email without an introduction for a quick ask from a fellow member of your team, but for an email to your boss make sure you follow all formatting and formality rules.

4.    Brevity is Key

Workers can receive over 50 emails per day, so it is imperative to keep your emails concise. Too often new employees see email as a way to showcase their level of articulation. Do not do this! Your boss, coworkers, and clients will appreciate your work style if your emails are short and to the point. Not only do you eliminate time waste for your colleagues, but you also eliminate all the time it takes to write emails with flowery, colorful language.

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