Email messages constitute a rapid form of written business communication, but text messages they are not! Although brevity makes for better email writing, you have no character or word limit. So take time to compose professional and clear email messages. And when you do, avoid these traps of modern technology: Emoticons (Emojis) and abbreviations. Consider these tips:
Don't be too formal, but avoid being informal. For example, use a professional and on-point subject line and begin each message with a greeting (salutation) much as you would for a letter. Once you begin an email chain or have communicated with a client, boss or other stakeholder for some time, you will get to know the style he or she uses and can match it. For example, you might use thanks instead of thank you or Hi XXX instead of Dear XXX.
Skip the urge to include emoticons. Even though your email composer might automatically create emojis, you should backspace or whatever is necessary to delete them. There are schools of thought that accept emoticons because they can provide the context often lacking in emails. For example, a smiley face lets the recipient know you're joking. Still, emoticons seldom have a place in emails, and clear writing that covers all the bases should provide context to prevent misunderstandings.
Likewise, you probably should avoid all abbreviations, especially those related to emotions (IDK or LOL). Every email you send in the workplace, or elsewhere, can be forwarded. You never know who might ultimately read your words. Spell out the abbreviations often used for text messages, and reserve widely known industry or company abbreviations for recipients who are certain to know their meaning.
Finally, although email is not as timely as text messaging, you should reply in a timely manner, no more than 24 hours after receiving a message. And always reply as soon as possible when asked a question or for clarification.
There might not be set standards for email etiquette, as there were for traditional business and cover letters. But common sense, a professional approach and business advice can help guide you in what you should include – and avoid – in email messages.
At Business Writing That Counts! we are all about improving email writing and effectiveness. find out more about our online courses, tip sheets and other resources to keep your email working for you and important stakeholders who receive your messages. Visit us online or call us at 425-485-3221 for more information.