Business email etiquette: what to know?

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Business email etiquette is important for effective communication. Guidelines include knowing your audience, keeping messages short and to the point, and using formal language. Exceptions include sending attachments and using creative punctuation with close business partners. Good grammar and spelling are also important, and jokes and chain emails should be avoided in a business setting.

Since so much business is now conducted via email, understanding business email etiquette is of great value. Some guidelines to remember are: know your audience, keep communication short and to the point, and keep business email similar to regular business mail. Within these guidelines for business email etiquette, there are several exceptions.

If someone is responding to a job inquiry or a trade publication, make sure you can send attachments if possible. A business email in response to a job posting should essentially be a cover letter. Most ads indicate whether to attach a resume or cut and paste the resume. Some companies will not open attachments and will delete emails with attachments.

Also, when an attachment is acceptable, make sure it isn’t too long. Sending anything over 150k is considered a huge breach of business email etiquette in most cases. However, a project that two people are working on together may occasionally require graphics or project files that take up more space. Just check if the business partner wants them sent via email. He or she may prefer a disk copy of snail mail to reduce how long an email takes to load.

Business email etiquette suggests using formality to approach people. In general, address people as if you were talking to the person. If one usually addresses someone like Mr. Brown, do not start a letter using Mr. Brown. If anyone ever calls Mr. Brown by his first name, business email etiquette allows for the least formal address.

When one is not familiar with a woman’s married status, business e-mail etiquette suggests the term Mrs. An exception to this is emailing physicians. In that case, use the formal title Dr.

Be sure to include a subject line specific to the content of someone’s email. It could be “Reply to posting assignment #1351 on Craig’s List” or “Let’s meet this week to discuss our options”. Make sure the subject reflects the material you intend to present.

Business email doesn’t need the creative punctuation, smiley faces, or other flourishes that might occur in casual emails between friends. It should also be free of chat abbreviations. Two close business partners can include these in their emails, but generally formal is best.

To reduce space, do not cite all material submitted by someone else. Cut, paste and cite only small pieces of material where relevant. If the material is not relevant, please delete the quoted material before replying to a message. Also, keep the material itself short and to the point.

Business email etiquette further requires that you communicate using good grammar, well-constructed sentences, and correctly spelled words. If someone is not strong in these areas, communications can seem quite silly and make them appear less intelligent. Be sure to type the spelling and grammar check material and then read it again, aloud, to check that it makes sense. If grammar is still an issue, consider a business writing course to help improve written communication.

Finally, don’t add business associates to someone’s joke list. This is a clear violation of business email etiquette. If someone works with someone who likes jokes, ask for their private email to add to your list. Also, never forward chain mail to a business partner. If anyone receives a virus warning, please check fraudulent Internet sites before sending it to business partners. Most emailed virus warnings are hoaxes and cause unnecessary alarms or take up space in what should be a business-oriented mailbox.

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