Monday, March 17, 2008

Email etiqette

Email etiqette is generally informal, but in business email it's important to set the right tone. Before you put your fingers on the keyboard, think about who you are writing email to. Are you writing up to management, down to employees, across to colleagues, or out to customers with your business email?

Consider how you would talk to the person if you were face to face. You don't talk the same way to a customer or the president of your company as you talk to your colleague in the next office. Think about how you interact with this person, to help you gage the right level of formality for your email message. This will help you use a sincere, appropriate voice for your email.

Remember also that email in the US and Canada is generally informal, but if you are writing email to an international business contact, always maintain more formal email etiquette. Ask yourself:

  1. Who is my reader?
  2. What is my relationship to the reader?
  3. What do I want the reader to do?

You create different voices by changing your level of language. Your email can range from formal to conversational to friendly.

Email etiquette - setting a formal tone

  • Begin with Dear (name of person)
  • Address the reader by title (Mr., Ms, Dr.)
  • Use formal, respectful language
  • Don't use contractions (use You would, instead of You'd)
  • Use objective words and specific terminology
  • Close with the words Sincerely or Yours truly, and your name and job title

Email etiquette - using a conversational tone

  • Begin with an informal greeting with the reader's first name, such as Hi or Hello (name)
  • Use a friendly but professional tone
  • Use some contractions (I'm instead of I am)
  • Keep the message lighter, based on a connection between you and the reader
  • Have a brief, friendly closing, using your first name only, and your job title if applicable

Email etiquette - using a friendly voice

  • Start with a casual greeting, such as Hi (name),
  • Use contractions (Can't instead of Cannot)
  • Use appropriate humor
  • Use jargon & slang as long as it doesn't become unprofessional
  • Use a casual closing with your first name only, no job title

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