Email Etiquette – 89 Tricks from the Pros

Email etiquette is the principles of behavior that one should use for email management. But why should I care? Email etiquette is important for you as an individual, but also for your team or your company at large.

What is the meaning of email etiquette?
For the individual, you risk losing a lot of time and opportunities unless you find a way to handle your email in an effective and efficient way. How you express yourself in emails, and how you manage your replies and forwarding also says a lot about you as a person. It is in your own interest to come across as both efficient and reliable, by having a good email etiquette.

For the team, email etiquette helps you all function together in a good way. For example, by respecting one another’s preferences in terms of response times and expectations of how often you check your emails.

For the company, efficient email management is very important. Several research studies show that office workers waste a lot of time by jumping back and forth between their emails and their other tasks. An average office worker checks their email more than 70 times per day. And more than one minute is wasted for each such context switch, simply because it takes time to get up to speed again after having switched work context. That’s more than 1 hour of work time that goes to waste, not for reading or writing emails, but for switching back and forth:

How should I use this guide?
This guide contains many important rules of thumb for email etiquette. For the best effect, study this guide yourself and think about which rules of thumb you think are most important for you. Then share the guide with your team or company and discuss what email etiquette means for you as a team or company, and how you want to improve it. The last section of this guide contains advice for how to create and manage email etiquette policies for your team or company.
Good luck!

Table of content
Chapt 01: Content
Chapt 02: Expectations
Chapt 03: Structure
Chapt 04: Language
Chapt 05: Formatting
Chapt 06: Attachments
Chapt 07: Politness
Chapt 08: Timing
Chapt 09: Priority
Chapt 10: Status
Chapt 11: Privacy
Chapt 12: Process
Chapt 13: Follow up (reply/reply-all/forward)
Chapt 14: Who to send to (to/cc/bcc)
Chapt 15: When to use
Chapt 16: Email overload
Chapt 17: Email etiquette policies

Chapter 1:

1. Keep emails short and to the point
Nobody likes long emails. Keep them short and to the point. Write concisely, with lots of white space. Make sure to avoid the wall-of-text style, and make sure that your email looks inviting and easy to read. Use bullet points whenever you feel it will make things easier to read. Think consciously of ways to make the email easier to read for the recipient. Challenge yourself to keep your email as short and concise as possible. Your contact is just as likely to be checking the message on a smartphone as on a desktop computer, and shorter is easier to digest – which means you’re more likely to get a (positive) response.

2. Make sure your email gives a good reflection of you
Every e-mail you send adds to, or detracts from your reputation. If your e-mail is sloppily written and full of mistakes, the recipient will likely think of you as a careless, and disorganized person. Other people’s opinions matter and in the business world, their perception of you will be critical to your success.

3. Know when one-liners are appropriate
Short phrases like ”Thanks,” and ”Oh, OK” do not advance a conversation much. Feel free to put ”No Reply Necessary” at the top of the e-mail when you don’t anticipate a response. On the other hand, a quick reply with “Great work!”, or “Well done!”, can be a quick way to show respect and appreciation. Encouragement is always a good thing.

4. Stick to one topic per email
If you need to discuss more than one subject, send multiple emails. This makes it easy to scan subject lines later to find the message you need. It also contributes to briefer email messages and increases the probability of getting a response. Also, the more specific you can be in the subject heading, the better. But what about emails to friends? Of course, this is not a rule that is always applicable. If you are writing an email to a friend or family member, as a means to keep in touch, talking about several things in the same email is clearly OK. But try to keep the different topics in different paragraphs to make the email easier to read.

5. Don’t assume the recipient knows all the details
Sometimes we get emails where the sender seems to assume we can read his or her mind. Perhaps by referring to something we do not know about. Don’t do this. Always make sure you provide sufficient context for the receiver to understand what you are talking about. This will eliminate time and effort taken later in the follow-up process where you have to explain things that were unclear. If the receiver even bothered to get back to you, that is.

6. Provide options
When suggestion something, try to bring forward alternative options. For example, when suggesting a meeting, always provide some alternative meeting times. When discussing a course of action, always put forward some alternatives, before making your case for one of the options. This way you come across as a thoughtful and reliable person.

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Chapter 2:

7. Make your intentions clear
Provide an outline in the beginning of the email where you make it clear what you expect the receiver to do. Short bullet points are good. People tend to skim emails simply because they get so many. Don’t expect the receiver to carefully read and re-read your message. Just because the email is very important to you doesn’t mean it’s important for the receiver.

8. Include deadlines
Some people think that handing out deadlines can seem like a bossy thing to do. On the contrary, successful people tend welcome clear deadlines. It helps them integrate the tasks into their bus schedule. If a response to your email is imperative, politely include a deadline. For example: “To minimize risk, I need a response from you by 2/12.” If a response is optional, make that clear as well: “If I don’t hear back from you by 3/8, I will proceed with plan B, as planned.”

9. Don’t expect the receiver to take the initiative
Even if you write the best email or have the greatest interaction with a contact, if you don’t ask for something specific, you may never reach your goal. Make sure that you have a clear goal with the email, and always remember to ask for it. “Would you be willing to try our new software for a couple of days?” “Would you be willing to recommend our product to person A?” If you never ask, it won’t happen.

Nr. 1 Email Rule by Dusan Stojanovic
Founder and Director of True Global Ventures
Always make sure to establish win-win opportunities from the get go. Right person with the right message at the right time. Otherwise, why should the person you contact spend precious time reading your email?

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Chapter 3:

10. Include a clear subject line that summarizes your email
We all try to handle our emails efficiently and tend to skim our inboxes, deciding what to read now, and what to postpone. The subject line is a key indicator for importance and time sensitivity, and should be exploited as such. Using subject line prefixes such as “FYI:” (For Your Information), “TODO:”, or “URGENT:” helps indicating both the expected behavior of the receiver as well as the urgency level. The subject line is your prime opportunity for getting the receiver to open and read your email without delay. Write it with care.

Infographic linked from

11. Use professional greetings
Don’t use laid-back expressions in business emails like, ”Hey guys,” ”Hi there,” or ”Hi folks.” “Hey,” is a very informal salutation and generally should not be used in business settings. And “Yo” is not any better. Use the more formal “Hi” or “Hello” instead. Also, avoid shortening the recipient’s name. Write ”Hi Timothy,” unless you’re certain he prefers to be called ”Tim.”

12. Briefly introduce yourself
Do not assume the person receiving your email knows who you are, or remembers meeting you. If you are uncertain whether the recipient recognizes your email address or name, include a simple reminder of who you are in relation to the receiver. Nothing fancy, but it helps the receiver, and increases the likelihood of you getting a reply.

Nr. 1 Email Rule by Anthony Jameson
Principal researcher at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
On the page of my website where I give my email address, I display the following note: “When sending email for the first time (from a given address), you can start the subject line with the words ‘Genuine email:’ to minimize the likelihood that your message will be mistakenly classified as spam.”
My email client includes a filter that ensures that any message with those words in the subject line will be displayed prominently in my inbox.

Anthony Jameson, DFKI

13. Number your questions
If you’re not already doing it, it should be a standard procedure to break out questions as numbered items in all emails. If you don’t, you risk having the receiver only respond to the first question that happens to catch his or her attention. And now you need to write a new email to ask the person to also answer the other questions. Isn’t that annoying, for both senders and receivers?

14. Communicate action steps first
It’s common practice to begin meeting notes with a summary of what happened at a meeting, and then following on with any action steps that were decided. But this makes it easy for the most important information to get lost in the email. Remember that emails are commonly read on small mobile devices that are not suitable for reading long texts. By reversing the order for emails and listing the action steps first, you keep the attention on that which is most important.

15. Make the way forward clear
Emails that offer nothing but a vague question don’t do much good. Always try to be proactive and take the lead in your emails so that the way forward is made clear for the recipient. For example, if you’re proposing a new project, include a bullet list with the main pros and cons and clearly put forward your point of view and ask if the receivers agree. They may not always agree, but giving them something concrete to react to increases the likelihood of getting a (positive) response. Never wait for someone else to make the first move.

16. Use “FYI” to indicate emails without actionable information
Some emails need to be shared to keep everyone on top of things. But such emails should be labeled appropriately to make them stand out from the rest and help prioritization. One way to do this is to include a FYI-prefix in the subject line. It facilitates easy filtering, whether by eyeballing the inbox list or setting up filter rules in your email software.

17. Put the most important information at the top
Your customer will not read your full email. Make sure you get to the point fast. If you must use deep and elaborate information and reasoning, use them at the bottom of the email and make sure you have indicated your main points in the beginning of the email.

Nr. 2 Email Rule by Anthony Jameson
Principal researcher at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
For complex emails, consider providing both a “Short version” and a “Full version” for enhanced readability.

Anthony Jameson, DFKI

18. End the email in a polite way
Basic manners always apply in email etiquette. No matter how busy you are, including a simple “Thanks,” “Best,” or “Kind regards” is mandatory. Customized signatures that apologize for brevity can also be quite helpful to avoid offending readers when you send or reply to emails from a mobile device with limited input possibilities.

19. Include a signature with name and contact information
You never want someone to have to spend time and effort looking up how to get in touch with you. If you’re using social media in your work, make sure to include all your social media information in your signature as well. Your email signature is also a great way to let people know more about you and your business, especially when your email address does not include your full name or company. Special offers or campaigns can also be advertised in an email signature.

20. Avoid adding personal quotes to your email signature
Leave the inspiring quotes for personal messages, not for business emails. An exception to this rule of thumb is for email newsletters where you are building a personal brand, and where such quotes could help you with the branding and character of your business persona.

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Chapter 4:

21. Use a spell checker
Make sure you use the available tools for checking your spelling and grammar. Also, proofread all emails before hitting the send button. Very important emails can be read out aloud before sending, since this is a very effective technique for detecting language errors in something you have written yourself.

Nr. 1 Email Rule by Alan Cooper
Founder of Cooper & ‘Father of Visual Basic’
Proofread and correct your emails before you send them. Every one of them. Correct every mistake. If you don’t, your meaning may well be lost or confused. If you don’t care about insuring that your correspondent knows precisely what you mean, why bother sending an email at all?

Briteback is an all-in-one messaging app for teams and enterprises, and the only app on the market that let’s you integrate your email accounts. For more info, visit:

22. Use short sentences
The shorter the sentence, the easier it is to read and understand. Follow the likes of JRR Tolkien and George Martin and express yourself with care. The recipients will be grateful, and you will minimize confusions and unnecessary emails asking for clarifications. The principle is called KISS, for “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

23. Do not use slang and informal words in business settings
Business-related emails containing shortcuts such as ”4 u” (instead of ”for you”), ”Gr8” (for great) are not acceptable, and will make you look unprofessional. You don’t want to sound like a teenage brat chewing gums when giving an important keynote presentation at a conference. The same rules apply for business emails.

24. Use acronyms only when suitable
While acronyms are unsuitable for emails with new contacts, creating company acronyms between co-workers can be a smart way to ensure that they understand the importance of the message. Made up acronyms like “DNR” (Do Not Reply) can allow colleagues to know what messages are urgent and what can wait. Such acronyms can also be added to subject lines as a prefix to make it really easy to evaluate the importance of emails with just a glance at the inbox list.

25. Adapt the level of formality to the recipients
Your email greeting and sign-off should be consistent with the level of respect and formality of the person you’re emailing with. Also, write for the person who will be reading it. If he or she is very polite and formal, write in that style. The same goes for a contact who tends to be more informal and relaxed.

26. Consider the company culture
Keeping the writing and tone professional is a good thing. But let’s not overdo it. There can still be room for friendliness and some more relaxed writing. It is not the same thing writing an email to the CEO of your biggest and most important client, and writing an email to a team mate, asking if he or she wants to join you for lunch. Get to know the culture of your company and adapt your tone to that.

27. Be careful when emailing with someone from another culture
Miscommunication can easily occur because of cultural differences, especially in the writing form when we can’t see one another’s body language and facial expressions. Tailor your message depending on the receiver’s cultural background or how well you know him or her. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind, is that high-context cultures (e.g. Japanese, Arab, or Chinese) may want to get to know you before doing business with you. Therefore, it may be common for contacts from these countries to be more personal in their writings. On the other hand, people from low-context cultures (e.g. German, American, or Scandinavian) may prefer to quickly get to the point.

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Chapter 5:

28. Keep it clean
It can be very annoying for email recipients when people reply and leave the messages messy, for example, an email chain that includes excessive amounts of quoted text from previous emails in the thread. Make sure to clean the email of unnecessary content before sending it. Remember, you are what you email.

29. Be careful with punctuation for business emails
Professionalism involves knowing how to handle punctuation. In a standard email correspondence, you should use periods and question marks in an appropriate way. Be careful with exclamation marks unless you know the recipient well and the usage fits the context.

30. Do not write in ALL CAPS
For emails, that is just like shouting, and nobody likes to hear you shout. An email is not a hockey game. Also, writing in ALL CAPS makes your text harder to read. To be clear, make sure that you don’t write all your text in small case neither.

October 22 and June 28 are biannually observed to be Caps Lock Day and the only days where you are allowed to write in all caps.

31. Make sure your formatting works on small screens
Email is no longer something done exclusively on desktop computers. People are always on the go, and read their emails on smartphones and tablets. While the modern versions of these devices have surprisingly high screen resolutions, it isn’t that easy to read long blocks of text on a tiny screen. Keep that in mind when you’re formatting your emails. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and your emails brief. If you must send a longer email, provide a short summary in the beginning.

32. Avoid fancy graphics and other formatting
Fancy graphics and fonts do not look good on all browsers and devices and can make an email hard to read. If you cannot resist the urge to style your email, use small touches that add character without overwhelming the email. Also, avoid the use of backgrounds and multiple font colors. The only good that likely will do you is getting your email classified as SPAM.

33. Be careful with embedding large images
If you are sending photos, it’s better to send them as attachments rather than in the body of an email, so the email itself doesn’t take years to load. Also, think about downsizing images that are sent as embedded images.

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Chapter 6:

34. Send large attachments as cloud storage links
Most cloud storage providers such as Dropbox provide safe ways to send links to stored files. This is really a win-win for both sender and receiver. For the sender, there is literally zero upload time when sending the file link. For the receiver, the linked file does not take up any space on the mail server.

For more info, visit:

35. Limit the number of attachments
Unless it’s been specifically requested, try to avoid sending an email with more than, say, two attachments. Also, give the attached file(s) a logical name so the recipient knows at a glance the subject and the sender, even after having saved the file and lost the email context.

36. Use open document formats
Unless you are sure that the receiver has the appropriate software for processing your attached files, use open document formats such as PDF. When in doubt, send in several formats, preferably as cloud storage links. The advantage with open document formats is that there are document readers available for free on most platforms.

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Chapter 7:

37. Be careful with humor
Humor can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expressions. In a professional exchange, it’s better to leave humor out of emails unless you know the recipient well. Also, something that you think is funny may not be funny to someone else. It can be a matter of taste.

38. Avoid irony and sarcasm
Irony can be a wonderful thing. You can say something without quite saying it. And irony is funny, too, in the right context. However, with email, irony can lead to disaster. Because the receiver of your email cannot see you, and take clues from your facial expression and your body language that you meant something ironically, misunderstandings are common and can lead to major conflicts and irritation. If you do insist on using irony in an email, make sure that the context allows it, and that you spice it with a good amount of smileys.

39. Do not start by apologizing
When you start an email with an apologetic phrase, such as “sorry to bother you,” chances are that the recipient already feels bothered by the time he or she reads that. Furthermore, if you are sending a business email, you should never apologize for doing your job or asking someone to do their job. You want to come across as polite and friendly, not as insecure.

40. Never send angry emails
Email, and text in general, is a limited medium for conveying tone. A statement meant to show a slight irritation, can easily be interpreted as severe criticism, and create unnecessary conflicts and anxiety. If you really need to find an outlet for your anger or frustration, lock yourself in a room and punch a pillow or something, don’t send an angry email. After that, try calling the person you are angry with or even better, go see the person. Emails leave too much room for misunderstanding, and once an email has been sent, you cannot remove it, and you never know what the receiver might do with it.

Nr. 1 Email Rule by Lena Miranda
CEO Mjärdevi Science Park, Sweden
Never send angry emails. After a good night’s sleep, your mind set is clearer and big issues have become smaller.

41. Do not forward hoaxes or chain letters
Such emails can be forgiven when they are from someone who is not very familiar with computers or the internet, but they only add clutter in a business setting. Also, the information in such emails is usually of no value at all. If you feel you absolutely must pass it on, please make sure that it is valid information. A quick google search usually settles that.

42. Spell the name of the recipient correctly
Always double check that you have spelled the names of the recipients correctly, e.g. in the greeting phrase of the email. For the receiver of your email, it hurts to see that you have not bothered to make sure that his or her name is spelled correctly. It is a clear sign of carelessness. Also, make sure that any accents, etc, are inserted in the right places. Even if accents on names are not used in your own language, they are important for the receiver and you should respect that.

43. Do not use e-mail to criticize others
E-mail is a great medium for commending or praising someone. It is not an appropriate medium for (constructive) criticism. Most likely, you will just offend the other person, and they will miss your point. These kinds of conversations are better handled in person or, if necessary, over the phone. And never use email to criticize a third party. Emails can live forever, and once you hit the Send button, you have given over the control to the receiver. Remember that emails are easily forwarded.

44. Do not send or forward emails with offensive content
It is, of course, bad manners and puts you in a bad light. Further, there is a legal aspect to it and you can put yourself or your company at unnecessary risk. You, or your company, could be sued for simply passing something along, even if you aren’t the original author.

45. Do not use read receipt features
Some email programs allow the sender to ask for receipts when an email has been read. Most people do not like this and feel like they are being monitored. In other words, don’t use such features. There are better ways to satisfy your curiosity. Why not simply ask the person if he or she has received your email?

46. Use a smiley to make sure that a statement is not misunderstood
The text written in emails can easily be interpreted in different ways. Ways that you may not intend. “Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there?” “Is she being ironic now?” Using smileys can be a good way to keep a light tone in the email and relieve tension, e.g. when giving feedback to a coworker. However, smileys are best used in fairly informal emails, with people you know. Avoid using smileys in emails with clients you do not know well.

47. Provide unsubscribe options for newsletters
When sending emails to subscribers of a mailing list or equivalent, always provide an option for the receiver to unsubscribe from future emails. It is respectful, and shows that you care. Anyway, it probably won’t do you any good to keep sending emails to someone who clearly isn’t interested.

48. Be mindful of your tone when reminding someone of an email
Shocking as it may seem, you are not always at the top of the receiver’s mind. There may be very reasonable explanations for a delay in reply. Other priorities that outweigh your email, high work load, deadlines, etc. Always formulate your reminder in a respectful way. You can also offer opportunities for making it easier for the recipient to respond. For example, “Would it be easier for you if I just stopped by your office for 2 minutes so that we can sort this out?”.

Nr. 1 Email Rule by Peter Bláha
Gladiator, Swedish National Rugby Team Player & CEO
Emails don’t express the writer’s mood, voice level, tone etc. It’s the reader’s mood that decides how your text is perceived. Therefore, be polite to make sure that your message is taken in a positive way.

49. When in doubt, go formal
Using “Mr.” or “Ms.”, or the full first name instead of a shorter form of greeting should always be done when you are unsure of what’s appropriate. When applying for a job, stick with the formal “To Whom It May Concern”. As communication proceeds, certain formalities may be dropped, especially if the other communicating part “levels down” first, but initiating contact informally sets the bar below a professional standard.

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Chapter 8:

50. Reply to important emails as fast as you can
If you can’t provide a substantive answer immediately, acknowledge you received the email and say you will write again as soon as you can. If possible, try to give a fairly accurate estimate of when you will get back to the person. That way, you give the person the opportunity to try other ways of getting in touch with you if it is something really urgent.

Don’t send unimportant emails late at night and keep people awake.

51. Give a heads up using another medium for urgent emails
Don’t expect people to check their emails all the time. If you send an email you consider urgent or unusually important, give the receiver a heads up in some other medium to make sure he or she is on the lookout for your email. Choose a heads up medium that you think works well for that particular person (cell phone, text message, etc).

52. Reply in a timely manner
Emails in general do not demand an immediate response. Responding once or twice a day is usually sufficient, unless you are in sales, customer service, tech support, or some other field where a faster response is expected. Regardless, you must reply in a timely manner, otherwise you will incrementally damage your reputation and decrease your effectiveness. Should it happen that forget to reply to an email, apologize in an appropriate way when you receive a reminder.

53. Consider time differences
It can be frustrating to request a call or meeting through email and not hear back within a timely manner. It is necessary, however, to ensure that this isn’t due to time zone differences. If you are scheduling a meeting with someone from a different time zone, make sure the time zone differences are worked out.

54. Be mindful of traditions and holidays
To prevent unnecessary confusion, it is good to be mindful of traditions and holidays in the culture or religion of your contact. For example, if you’re in a country where Christmas isn’t widely celebrated, but your contact is, show that you respect this difference, and avoid scheduling meetings that collide with the Christmas tradition in your contact’s country.

55. Avoid sending non-urgent emails on weekends and holidays
Respect your coworkers’ need for family time and relaxation. If you are sending non-urgent emails at times normally associated with rest and family time, you are sending a signal that you expect the recipients to be at work and be ready to reply to your email. So if you get that brilliant idea in the middle of the night or during the weekend, and you really must get it off your chest in an email, consider using a feature for scheduling the email for later delivery, e.g. Monday morning.

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Chapter 9:

56. Evaluate the importance of your email
When writing an email, always keep the importance in mind. When do you need a reply? Make sure you make that clear to the receiver. If it is not clear, or if the email could be interpreted as non-important, you may not get a reply at all. At the same time, if it is not important, you should indicate this in the beginning of the email. For example, “I thought this may interest you. No reply needed!”

Comic linked from

57. Use the subject line to indicate urgency
If the email is urgent, you can include an indicator in the subject line, e.g. “URGENT: Customer request”. This way your email will stand out at a glance. However, don’t expect the receiver to check emails all the time, so consider providing a heads up through a more suitable medium.

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Chapter 10:

58. Use auto-reply emails when necessary
It is usually possible to set up auto-reply emails. They work like this. During the time period when the auto-reply setting is activated, all incoming emails trigger an automatic reply, containing a message that you have set up in advance. This can be a very good way to help people sending you emails during a period of time when you are away from your email (or know you won’t be able to check your emails as often as usual). For example, during a vacation or a leave of absence. In the auto-reply message you can point to people who are replacing you for the time being. For example, “For support issues, please contact Lisa Smith at”.

Briteback is an all-in-one messaging app for teams and enterprises, and the only app on the market that let’s you integrate your email accounts. For more info, visit:

59. Use status indicators when possible
Some email software allows you to set your status (e.g. to Busy). This means that someone using the same software can see your status when writing an email to you, and thereby adapt their expectations of when you may be able to respond. They may also decide not to send you an email and try to contact you in a more suitable way or at a later time. It’s win-win.

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Chapter 11:

60. Be careful with confidential information
Refrain from discussing confidential information in emails. Emails can be forwarded easily, and be held against you. Know who you think you can trust, and make sure not to discuss anything you wouldn’t say in person, or publicly, depending who you are sending the email to. Emails that get out of hand could have legal repercussions.

61. Maintain privacy
If you’re sending a message to a group of people and you need to protect the privacy of your list, you should always use the BCC field. Also, do not give away e-mail addresses to a third party that may use the information for advertisements or worse. Make sure that address information you willingly hand over to third parties stay
with them, especially when the service offered is free.

Briteback is an all-in-one messaging app for teams and enterprises, and the only app on the market that let’s you integrate your email accounts. For more info, visit:

62. Company e-mail isn’t private
It’s not wise to use your company email to send personal messages to friends and relatives. Use your business email for business-related emails only. Your email inbox is a professional tool for work, not for keeping in touch with your family and friends. Also, anyone with sufficient authority or access can monitor your conversations on the company’s email servers. If you need to communicate privately at work, then get a free account at gmail or a similar provider, preferably a solution that does not require you to install a piece of software on your work computer. Use it for anything personal or private.

63. Beware of email fraud
No, you have not won $10 million in a lottery you have never heard of. And no, you have no distant relative in a foreign country that recently passed away and chose you as his or her heir. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And no, banks or software providers do not contact you with badly written emails asking you to send them your password(s) because they have had hacker attacks and need to reset their database. The best way to handle these emails is simply to ignore them. For sure, do not forward them to all your contacts to warn them about it. If you are unsure and think that there really could be a grain of truth to the strange email you just received, try copying a part of the email text into google and see what results come up. Usually you will be directed to a page analyzing the email and concluding that it is a fraud.

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Chapter 12:

64. Double-check the recipient list
Pay careful attention when typing a name from your address book on the email’s To field. It’s easy to select the wrong name, which can be embarrassing to you and to the person who receives the email by mistake. Be careful with contacts with similar names. Also, make sure you send the email to the correct email address if the person has several active email addresses (e.g. both private and professional).

65. Review the message and subject line before sending
Try to do this with every single email. It is not unusual to drop a word or two as you are racing to finish a sentence. Therefore, it’s a good idea to re-read your messages and make sure that you are communicating clearly and observing good email etiquette. Use your tool for checking spelling and grammar, but do not rely on it entirely, since it is not a replacement for proof reading. For really important emails, reading them out aloud is a good way to catch hard-to-find errors.

66. Clean up emails before forwarding
Make sure that there are no additions to the original text that you do not want to include. It’s not unusual for an email to be forwarded and then have more and more text built on to the original message as people keep doing reply-all to discuss. Doing a forward of an email at this point means that the receiver(s) get all this extra information, which may not be what you want. An example is an email from a client that gets forwarded for internal discussion, with a reply-all chain that keeps building up text. When a decision of how to respond to the original email has finally been taken, make sure that the one replying cleans up the mess that has been built up. It would not be the first time that such a reply contains things said that were not meant to be seen by the client.

67. Double-check that the intended attachments are included
Some email programs scan the text for the word “attachment” (and related synonyms) in the email text to give you a heads up if the email contains such a word, but no attached file. Other email programs do not provide such a service, so make sure you check this before hitting the send button. You will come across as careless if you need to follow up an important email with another email containing the promised attachments.

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Chapter 13:
Follow up (reply/reply-all/forward)

Nr. 2 Email Rule by Alan Cooper
Founder of Cooper & ‘Father of Visual Basic’
Context! Always include a copy of the message you are responding to. Your correspondent needs to know what this is about.

68. Reply only to those concerned
Do not routinely reply to all receivers of the original email. Check the list of receivers and remove any receivers that are not concerned by your reply. At the same time, do not hit reply when you really wanted to hit reply-all. This can create lots of confusion and irritation in a busy email thread, and require re-sending of emails.

Picture linked from

69. Do not overuse the reply-all feature
It can be really annoying when someone sends a reply-all to an email sent to many people. Make sure you do not do this mistake unless you really want your reply to reach all recipients of the original email. The worst of all is to follow up on such an accidental reply-all with a new reply-al, informing everyone that the previous email was sent to all in error. This frequently leads to other clowns following up with yet another reply-all saying something irrelevant, such as “thanks for the clarification”. Can be funny the first time it happens. Not so funny the second and third time.

70. Explain why a forwarded email is of interest for the receiver
When forwarding an email, always include a short introductory note that explains why you think it will interest the recipient. It takes little time and makes sure that you come across as friendly and helpful. It will also help the receiver making a decision of whether to read it or not. However, make sure that what you forward really is of actual interest to the receiver, otherwise you will look the fool.

71. Dig you get my email?
Checking to see if someone has received your e-mail is not a nuisance, it simply shows that you care about your work and take your tasks seriously. It is also a way of showing that you understand that the receiver is busy and may have his or her attention elsewhere. Make sure your reminder is formulated in a nice and friendly way.

Nr. 2 Email Rule by Peter Bláha
Gladiator, Swedish National Rugby Team Player & CEO
Never argue over emails! If unsure of whether the writer is angry or disappointed, call and talk about it. Arguing over emails almost always makes things worse.

72. Reply to your emails, even emails mistakenly sent to you
It’s difficult to reply to all emails you receive, but do your best, even if the email was not intended for you. It is not strictly necessary, but is good email etiquette, especially if you have some kind of business relation to the sender. After all, if you sent an email to the wrong person, wouldn’t you appreciate being made aware of this in a friendly way? Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.

73. Send a complete response
When replying to an email, make sure you make an honest attempt at replying to all questions in the original email. You may come across as sloppy and careless if you only reply to the first question. The exception to this is of course when you send a quick reply just to confirm that you have received the email and will get back to it later.

Up to content

Chapter 14:
Who to send to (to/bc/bcc)

Top Email Rule by Seth Godin
Entrepreneur & Best selling author
#1 trick: don’t send cold emails

74. Include recipients on a need to know basis
Select the recipients of an email with care. Do not add people just in case it might be relevant for them, or because they may feel left out if they don’t receive the email. Being included in lots of emails is not a human right. Getting uninterrupted work time on the other hand can be priceless. But of course, people are different and react differently, so use your best judgement.

Picture linked from

75. Do not routinely add CC receivers
Do not add people to the CC field of an email, just because “it might be good for them to know about it”. For people in management roles, the CC feature can be a curse, and they tend to drown in emails. Getting several hundred emails a day is not uncommon. So no, don’t include your boss as CC just to show how good you are or to cover your back. If the shit hits the fan, and you really need to cover your back and show that you did your best to handle the situation, you can always point to the emails at that stage (even if your boss was not included originally).

76. Don’t “copy up” to speed things up
You may be tempted to CC someone’s boss when you don’t get a response to an earlier request. But you will probably be better served in the long run by sending a friendly reminder. If the person is simply not responding to emails, try a different strategy and e.g. pick up the phone.

It’s one thing to CC someone’s boss as a courtesy when making an assignment to someone who is not your direct report, but an entirely different thing to do that to make sure the person responds quickly.

77. Use BCC when sending group emails
Sometimes one needs to send an email to a large group of people who don’t necessarily know each other. For example, when sending an invitation to an event. Instead of adding all these people to the TO field of the email, add them to the BCC field. This makes it impossible for the curious receiver to see who else got the invitation. Also, it does not clutter up the address field with hundreds of receivers. Better still is of course to use a feature or service for sending the email as individual emails to all receivers. This way a personalized greeting can also be added and make the email feel like it’s directly addressed to the individual receiver.

78. Use corporate email lists with care
Most companies have email lists for reaching all employees at the company or at a certain division or group. When sending emails to such lists, be extra careful in how you express yourself and what topics you bring up. If you are relatively new at the company, make sure to check for any policy regulations concerning how to use these lists before sending an email. And, above all, do not use the reply-all feature unless you have a very, very, good reason to do so.

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Chapter 15:
When to use

79. Use the phone
Email is not always the best solution. Do not routinely send an email just because it is more convenient for you. Try to think of the whole picture. Wouldn’t it be quicker for all involved to just pick up the phone and have it all settled in a minute or two. Remember, one email quickly turns into a thread of lots of emails. And with each email received you get interrupted and lose your concentration.

Briteback is an all-in-one messaging app for teams and enterprises, and the only app on the market that let’s you integrate your email accounts. For more info, visit:

80. Take a walk
Do you need some information from someone in the same building? Why not get up and go talk to that person? Apart from stretching your legs and give your body a chance to recover from prolonged sitting in front of your computer, this may solve the problem more quickly than resorting to emails. Also, talking to someone in person builds relationships in a better way than emails do. Don’t underestimate the expressive power of body language and a smile.

81. Use messaging
Messaging in the form of public messaging channels have several advantages over email. For one thing, things discussed in such a channel stay there and is searchable even for people who joins the channel at a later time. Compare that to email. When a new employee starts, you don’t start forwarding old emails to make sure he or she has all the relevant information. This would take far too much time and require elaborate editing. On the other hand, with public messaging channels, the new employee can join all relevant public channels and scroll back as far as needed. Also, all previous messages are searchable.

Nr. 3 Email Rule by Peter Bláha
Gladiator, Swedish National Rugby Team Player & CEO
Don’t send important emails when you are too tired. Take a break and exercise, to clear your head. Afterwards you’ll have more energy to revise your own text before sending it. Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle will build a body and mind that can handle more stress and hard work, so prioritize to make time for it.

82. Go get some coffee
You would be surprised to know how much valuable information is actually exchanged around the company coffee machine or water cooler. You know these guys and gals who tend to hang around that machine a lot. Some people may talk behind their backs and accuse them of being unproductive. After all, what good is there to drinking coffee all day? Well, the coffee as such may not be so good to consume in large quantities, but office small talk is indeed valuable. As an organization grows communication tends to get problematic. So, go get some coffee and have a quick chit chat with your coworkers to see what they’re up to. Perhaps they know just the person to help you out with that tricky problem you’ve been battling with recently.

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Chapter 16:
Email overload

83. Make email a second priority
It is easy to have email take over your life. The instant reward and feeling of being needed that you get when you receive emails can be exciting. But don’t let it get out of hand. You know the warning signals. Do you tend to pick up your phone and open up the email app even if you have not received any notifications? Do you tend to swipe down in the email list to trigger a check for new emails one extra time before you close the app (even though you know very well that new emails are automatically sent to your phone). Do you stop what you are doing every minute or so just to check if you have received new emails? Do you pick up your phone to check your emails just because you had a red light when crossing the road? Let’s face it: there is more to life than email, so don’t let it control you. You are in charge and you set your own priorities. This way you will be more efficient in the long run.

Linked from [Dilbert comic strips](

84. Don’t always respond instantly
Given the addictiveness of email, it is easy to get drawn into the email app whenever you get a notification. You want to check that email now. It could be something really important that you need to reply to right away. On the other hand, isn’t the thing you are doing right now also important? Let’s finish that first while you are concentrated and focused, and save the emails for when you need a break and want to think of something else.

3 Tricks on Success by Alan Cooper

Founder of Cooper & ‘Father of Visual Basic’
The 3 Secrets of People Who Get Things Done:
1) No Twitter before 6PM,
2) No email before 6PM,
3) No Facebook before 6PM.

85. Turn off notifications when needed
In most corporate settings it is enough to check your emails once or twice a day. The earth will keep turning around the sun even if you don’t check your email all the time. One trick is to turn of instant notifications and set up a habit of checking your emails at fixed times every work day. Perhaps just before lunch and before you head home at the end of the day? Checking emails in the morning is not recommended since that is usually the time of day when you are most productive. Use that energy for the most difficult tasks.

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Chapter 17:
Email etiquette policy

86. Discuss the preferences of your team
Email etiquette is all about making email work well for both senders and receivers. As this guide illustrates, there are many aspects to email etiquette, and preferences within a team may vary. When and how to use CC, recommended response times, when not to send business emails, managing auto-reply setting, etc. Bringing these preferences out in the open and discussing them means that the team can come to an agreement on how to make email work as good as possible for them. Sure, compromises will have to be made, but better that than having to guess how people want their communication to work.

87. Set up an email etiquette policy
Based on a team’s email etiquette preferences, a policy can be set up where the selected email etiquette aspects are elaborated and described. How shall we use email in our team? What are the most important email etiquette rules? Such a policy can then become part of introduction procedures for new employees to make sure they get up to speed quickly, and do not need to learn implicit rules and individual preferences through osmosis.

88. Set up policy tools
Making use of existing software tools for setting up email etiquette rules as a part of a policy will enable the policy to survive way beyond the first initiative.

89. Set up evaluation routines
Similar to any process improvement initiative, email etiquette policies must be evaluated regularly. Do they work as intended? Are the rules followed? Does anything need to change? Gather the team after the first 3 months and discuss the policy. Make sure to let everyone have a say. Adapt the policy as needed. Someone must be in charge of the policy, responsible for performing regular evaluations and improvements. This person must have a suitable mandate from senior management.

Now, let’s get you started
with good communication habits!

Briteback is a free messaging app for all kind of teams and enterprises. It is available for iOS and Android, Windows and Mac. Download the app from Google Play or App Store!

Let us manage your communication, so you can do the thinking:

Want to know more?
Here’s a link list with related posts. Thank you all who contributed to this blog entry!

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