Email Etiquette 101

E-mail etiquette is something that has been on my mind a lot lately…

…oh the things we think about when #adulting… 

email etiquette

I decided I needed to do a quick PSA about email etiquette. It's one of those things that I really struggled to learn as an early twenty something, and often found myself crying and screaming, “Please come back!”

I've totally thought about sleuthy plans to break into my boss' office and delete the emails too… whether it's because I sounded dumb, forgot something, or wrote something full of typos and emojis, I've probably made every e-mail mistake in the book!

So a Quick Email Etiquette PSA:

1. Proof read your email, please for the love of whatever is holy on this earth! Make sure your words are spelled correctly (at least mostly: DAMN YOU AUTOCORRECT!), grammar is on point, and that you've included whatever you said you would include (always double check those attachments!).

2. Be clear, concise, and thorough. Nothing drives me crazier than when I get a really generic e-mail that is super vague and results in us having to go back and forth multiple times to get to the damn point! Whether you are emailing a boss, friends, or trying to pitch someone, please think to yourself, “Is this the quickest and clearest way I can get my point across and convey all the relevant and necessary information?” If you can't quickly give me a “Hell yes!” then don't hit send!

3. Make sure you have a signature. It really bothers me when I can't easily stalk you on your social media platforms or find your phone number for a quick question. It's proper email etiquette to include your full name, website, relevant social media platforms, phone number, etc. I don't want to waste my precious time finding this information out, I will do it… but I will be cursing you the whole time.


email etiquette


4. If you are emailing a bunch of people, use BCC. Who here loves getting an e-mail with 50 people CC'ed and getting every single one of them replying with “cool”, “got it”, or “thanks”? Not sure who? I'll tell you: It's no one. No one likes their emails clogged with useless or irrelevant emails. So if you are sending a blast out to everyone and they only need to respond to you then please us BCC and leave me and my inbox out of everybody's replies.

5. Don't send stupid chain emails. This isn't AOL in the 90s or early 2000s. Read the previous statement in #4: Don't clog people's emails with useless or irrelevant crap. I don't care that your first born will be taken by the cursed angel demon Damian if you don't send this to five friends, because guess what, if you send me that, we aren't really friends so you already f*ed yourself!

6. DO Reply with a courteous “received” or “got it”. Just to double back to #4 where I talk about people responding “cool”, “got it”, or “thanks”…. I actually love receiving these e-mails if I am the one sending the e-mail (in point #4, I'm referring to when another recipient is replying to a sender other than myself). Sometimes emails are wrongfully marked as spam (it's happened to me countless times because I use a masked dummy gmail), so please do let me know that you received my email. Even if you aren't responding in full at the time, just say, “Great, thanks!” and I won't keep pestering you.


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7. Check your emotions. This is one of the toughest for me. I get really passionate when I write sometimes, and will actually have entire written arguments… who's with me? I need to pause, take a breath, and check my emotions before sending most emails. Especially when I was in the corporate world. I would even send them to my fiancé (screen shotted or copy and pasted into a text, never via company email!) to read it before sending to ensure I was being as diplomatic, professional, and polished as possible. This practice of proofreading one another's emails has actually been really insightful and helpful in defining what's good email etiquette. It's taught us both about how differently people read tones and how to clean up our emails to be clearer and more concise (See #2). Maybe enlist an e-mail buddy or two? Just remember…

8. Don't send stuff you don't want seen or read via company e-mail! They own that ish! Seriously, your company is probably not reading every e-mail you send, but for safety's sake, get into the mindset that they have an elf in the basement, reading every e-mail, waiting to tattle to the master if you mess up (Yeah, I really just combined DJ Khaled and Harry Potter references in the same point… #WINNING!)

9. Choose an accurate subject line. If you are pitching someone, make it intriguing so they want to open it. If you are working with someone, make sure its specific to the conversation. It should be memorable, as in, “What key words would I search if I was trying to find this email?”


Good subject line: “NYU graduate, published author seeking content writer position”

Bad subject line: “Content writer position” (Where's the intrigue? Why should I open this compared to all the others? How can I easily search this compared to all the others?)

Good subject line: “Summary notes from 6/15 Summit discussion”

Bad subject line: “Notes”

10. Set up a vacation auto-responder. If you are going away for more than 2 days, please use a vacation notification. Let me know that you won't be responding to my emails, rather than me wondering if they are in spam or you're ignoring me. It's only good email etiquette!


Related: 5 Secrets to Preparing for an Interview

email etiquette

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After getting fired twice in under a month, Rachel Ritlop decided to embrace the old adage, “those who can’t do, teach”, and quickly excelled as a career and business coach earning thousands each month. Rachel has been seen in Forbes, Fast Company, Brit + Co, and Dailyworth. Rachel is also the founder of The Confused Millennial, a lifestyle blog.

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