If you want to simply your writing, read this post: How to Deflate those Inflated Phrases
Email has come a long way in its young 21 years of existence. It is a useful communications tool. On the other hand, as we all know, emails can also be annoying. You know the guy who marks everything as urgent, even when it’s not? Hopefully, that’s not you! And, there’s always that one junior staff member who adds multiple exclamation points and emoticons to every email.
Don’t be the Jack in the Box intern, no matter how “chipot-cray!” your day is. (Image)
Poor email etiquette is not just annoying, it can lead to problems communicating with your co-workers, missed deadlines, cause perception issues about your competence, and it could even lead to HR issues.
I hope this list will make you double check your next message and consider if you are getting your point across the right way.
1) Poor Grammar
Poor grammar is probably the most common issue in email fails. The right idea, written the wrong way, can completely change the meaning of your message. Common mistakes include spelling and punctuation errors, typos, ALL CAPS MISTAKES, and auto-correct issues.
Using all caps in your messages comes across as loud and self-important. Remember, caps lock = yelling. (Image)
Make sure to double check common spellings like “your” and “you’re”; “they’re”, “there”, and “their”; and “its” and “it’s”.
Run on sentences are tedious to decipher and show a lack of understanding of basic grammar. (Image)
2) Misleading Subject Lines
Do not say urgent in your subject line, unless the message is urgent. Avoid subject lines that include ‘Re:re:re:re:’. Once a chain gets past about three to four emails, it becomes unwieldy. As a rule of thumb, email correspondence should stick to one or two topics per thread, and email threads should be kept short.
Do not abuse subject lines or people will try to avoid your messages. (Image)
3) Emails with the Wrong Attachment
Everyone has been in a situation where they have sent an email that was supposed to have an attachment, but didn’t. That’s not good. Even worse, there are situations where people attach the wrong thing. This is detrimental because attaching the wrong document can result in legal action being taken against you, or cause hours of extra work trying to correct the situation.
4) Signatures that Read like Deepak Chopra Manifestos
Email signatures are an area of contention in many offices. Incorrectly used, they serve little-to-no purpose and reek of self-inflated importance. At most, they should
contain your name, title, contact info, and maybe ONE helpful link.
No one likes people who preach, and “deep” quotes often come off as shallow, giving off a forever-alone “cat lady” vibe. (Image)
5) Unprofessional Embellishments
Email is an uncomplicated medium. Most people want plain text messages that they can quickly scan through. Adding colourful letters, using multiple creative fonts, and cluttering up your message with a lot of emoticons is a good way to appear tacky and unprofessional.
This is your email on “flair”. (Image)
Special thanks to Solar Winds for their hilarious Email in Real Life video series, from which we got these animated GIFs.
by Taylor Wright
More business writing resources
If you are looking for help with your business writing skills, read these posts:
- The One Essential Email Trick Every Business Writer Should Know
- The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails
- How to Deflate those Inflated Phrases
TOP TIP: If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme
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