Top Five Tips for Office E-mail Etiquette

1. Timely Replies – E-mails requiring your reply should be addressed as soon as possible. When you reply in a timely manner, you are communicating to your colleagues and clients you are reliable and accountable. It is also important to build a system of organization to determine what messages are the most urgent or time-sensitive to avoid any e-mails being neglected. Urgency is always appreciated, and helps show your audience you care about and respect their time.

2. Use Proper and Professional Message Formatting – Be professional by formatting your text appropriately, and always be mindful of the context you are setting. Avoid using caps lock as it implies a harsh and disrespectful tone. Always be mindful in your text formatting: using brightly-colored text or fonts that are difficult to read will paint you in an unprofessional manner. An informative e-mail signature should be used to conclude your message, to ensure your colleagues and clients can easily identify and respond to the sender in a timely manner.

3. Keep Your Content Professional – It can be tempting to forward a funny e-mail along to your coworkers, but you have to resist the temptation. This type of correspondence is highly unprofessional and depending on the content could be grounds for reprimand or even termination. Workplace e-mails tend to be monitored by the employer, so it is much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to any non-work related messages.

4. Be Concise and Specific – The workplace is a busy zone. Keep messages to-the-point and be brief. All content should be relevant and significant to business-related matters. Know your audience, and avoid using emoticons, casual symbols, or slang. If there are multiple people on your message’s distribution, it’s very helpful to specifically address the person for whom the e-mail is intended. Keen ironic, witty, or sarcastic comments to a minimum, as this type of tone can convey a disrespectful pitch. Always look to minimize the potential for your message to be taken the wrong way.

5. Use Auto-Responses When You Are Unavailable – If you will be out of office or otherwise unavailable for an extended period of time, be sure to have an auto response enabled to communicate to your colleagues you are unreachable. Setting an auto-response is a reflection of professionalism. Make it a habit to set your auto-reply and include information if you are leaving someone as your back-up contact. Doing so demonstrates a strong sense of responsibility and reliability, even if you are out of the office or unreachable.