A clear subject line – the subject line tells the receiver about the contents of the email. In some cases, a poor subject line will get the email deleted before it’s read. The subject should be short and direct such as Meeting Time Changed or Questions about Your Proposal. If the subject line is left blank or has all caps or all lower case, it will look unprofessional, and the email may be deleted.
A formal communication – business emails should be written as if they are on company letterhead. This means the font should be standard and the text should not contain abbreviations. The email should not be written in typical text message language. It should also not contain emoticons or several exclamation points. These trivialize the message and the business. The sender should remember that his or her email communications reflect on the business’s image and brand. The business email address should always be used for business communications and never a personal address.
Easy to understand – the email should be clearly written and formatted. Its appearance should not be cluttered with quotations long walls-of-words, colors and unnecessary information. It should have short sentences and paragraphs that are directly to the point and only contain subject matter.
Correct grammar – it may seem obvious, but each business email should have correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. Any names included in the email should be spelled correctly. Writing in ALL CAPS is considered shouting in emails and rude, and using all lower case may give the impression that the sender lacks education. All slang words should be avoided, including gonna, gotta and coz.
A neutral tone – unless the sender has been specifically asked to use a first name or nickname, the email should be addressed to the formal name of the receiver such as Mr. Surname or Mrs. Surname. The sender can get a clue by the way the receiver signs his or her emails. If they use their first name, the response may be addressed to their first name. Most business people in the U.S. use first names, but this may be considered taking a liberty and too informal in other countries.
Consider the fields – if the To, From, BC, and C fields are not addressed correctly, the email may look unprofessional. The recipient’s name should be formally typed in the To line using regular letters and not all caps or all lower case. The From line should also have the correctly spelled and typed full name of the sender. If it only has a first name, it may give the impression the sender has something to hide.
The BC field should be used when the group of receivers don’t know each other. Doing this respects their privacy. Not doing it will make the receiver wonder if there are other privacy issues the sender doesn’t respect. If the email is going to 20 people, it is not courteous to send each one a long list of people’s names and email addresses in their To or C field.
The C field should be used when all of the receivers know each other and need to be on the same page. It can also be used if the receivers don’t mind their email address being known by colleagues. If there is any doubt about this, the sender should ask.
Reply to all should be used very carefully. It’s not professional to send information to the wrong person.
Avoid formatting – most companies and individuals have serious spam filtering. If the email is loaded with bold and colored font, embedded images and other formatting, it may be blocked as spam. Even if more than one font is used in the same email, it can be blocked as spam. The recipient may not have his or her email configured to show formatting, so the email may look confusing.
Avoid attachments – unless the recipient has previously received attachments, and the sender knows a simple document can be attached, it’s better to avoid attachments. The sender could clog the recipient’s inbox with a huge attachment or Power Point that they can’t open. The sender should not assume that the recipient has the correct software to open any attachment. If it’s necessary to send a huge file, courtesy demands that the sender asks the recipient first, before sending and never sends it on a weekend or after hours.
If the sender remembers that business emails are not the same as personal emails, they should always be able to write professional communications.