Business E-mail Etiquette – 1

When it comes to writing business e-mails, you have to be very careful about how you write them as they are a reflection of you as a business person. Business e-mails are a chance for you to make the right impression and to build trust and confidence. Well written and well formatted e-mails are also effective in conveying the right message. There are no “rules” as such on how to write good and effective e-mails, but there are certain etiquette guidelines that need to be followed in order for your e-mails to be effective.

I give below some etiquette basics to make your e-mails look professional and create a good impression. (Those of you who already know these, take them as reminders). It’s not possible to give all the tips here in one post, so I have divided them into 3 posts. Today is the first – header fields.

Here are the etiquette basics for header fields:

1. The ‘From’ field: Since it’s a business e-mail, decide on what you are going to fill in this field – your company’s name, your designation/title, or your name. Different companies have different rules and preferences, at other times it’s the content or purpose of the e-mail that decides on the ‘From’ of the e-mail. So, use your discretion when filling out this field.

2. The ‘To’, ‘Cc’, and ‘BCc’ fields:  Use your discretion in filling out these fields. Write the name of the person you would like a response from in the ‘To’ field; the name/names of the person/persons you would like the contents of the e-mail known to in the ‘Cc’ field; and the name/names of the person/persons you would like to make the contents of the e-mail known to, and yet would not want to disclose their names or e-mail addresses to the others. The ‘BCc’ is more of a privacy issue, so do be very careful on how you use it. If people from whom you have hidden the e-mails get to know about it, they might not like it since it’s similar to talking behind their backs. At other times, people would prefer it this way in order not to have their e-mail addresses hidden. It’s a very delicate situation – hence, the care in the use of ‘BCc’.

3. The Subject field: This is a very important field since it is this that determines whether your e-mail will be opened or not. The subject should make it clear to the recipient as to what exactly is contained in the e-mail. In other words, it should “summarize” the contents of the e-mail in just a few words – as short as possible. A good subject has another advantage – both to the sender and the recipient. It makes it easy to organize the e-mails in different files and folders, and later refer to them when there is the need. A word of caution: Avoid all caps, all small case, or typos in your subject, otherwise there’s the risk of the e-mail being considered spam. Also, never leave the subject field empty – it’s again taken to be spam.

Do write in if I have missed a point worth mentioning here.

Business E-mail Etiquette – 2

Business E-mail Etiquette – 3

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