Ding! You've got mail. Welcome to the working world, youngsters. Chances are you've been e-mailing since the early years of AOL, but what do you know about work e-mails? If you're wondering where all the smiley faces are at or why your co-workers don't forward funny YouTube videos to each other, then you clearly have a thing or two to learn about e-mail etiquette in the workplace. Keep reading for the 9 oft-overlooked e-mail etiquette tips every young worker should know.
Use a courteous greeting and closing
All business e-mails should begin with a courteous greeting and end with an appropriate closing. Greetings and closings make e-mails seem more personal and less demanding. Remember, if you're going to take the time to write a greeting, make sure you address the right person and you spell their name correctly.
Keep it short and sweet
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Keep your e-mails as concise and clean as possible. Nobody wants to read an essay or have to skim through an e-mail to find the answer. Keep it short and sweet and you'll have no problems.
Think before you send
Remember, there's no shredder for e-mails. Even if you're able to retrieve an incorrectly sent or embarrassing e-mail, forwarded notes may still exist and those may never get deleted. With that being said, you should always take caution before sending a sensitive or emotionally-charged e-mail out to co-workers or anyone else for that matter. Just like you've been told to think before you speak, you should think before you send.
You wouldn't turn in an important essay without revising it first, right? The same care should be taken when writing any business e-mail. It's easy to make mistakes when writing e-mails, and sometimes these errors are overlooked, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take three minutes to revise what you've written before you send it. Use spell check and other tools to help you get it right the first time, and if that still isn't enough, ask a co-worker to give it a look if they have a couple minutes to spare.
Get to the point
Don't make your reader sort through an essay of an e-mail to find what they're looking for. When writing an important e-mail – get straight to the point. Just like the aforementioned tip to keep e-mails short and sweet, you should address the purpose of the e-mail up front, whether it's to ask a question or give an answer. No one wants to read through an in-depth description of your stomach problems that are preventing you from coming into work; a simple "I'm ill" will do.
Limit your abbreviations and emoticons
Use of abbreviations and emoticons depends greatly on the context of the e-mail and the person you're communicating with, but it's generally a good idea to use them sparingly. If you're new to a job, observe how your co-workers converse in group e-mails before putting smileys and LOLs in your next message.
Use sentence case
Work e-mails don't have to be formal and stuffy, but they should include proper sentence case. That means the first word in a sentence should be capitalized and all other words should be lowercase, unless of course it's a proper noun, acronym, or initial. This is a simple, elementary lesson that should always be applied. And for goodness sakes, DO NOT USE ALL CAPS. See? They're too abrasive and it looks like you're shouting.
Refrain from using "Reply to All"
Young workers should refrain from using "reply to all," unless they're certain others need and want to see their response. Flooding your co-worker's and manager's inbox with your opinion on a previous message is rude and downright annoying. It's generally best to reply to the sender alone and keep your paper trail as small as possible.
Keep it informal, but clean
E-mails, including work ones, don't have to be super formal and scripted. Formal e-mails have a tendency to be awkward and hard to read, but there's also a fine line between informal and sloppy. In other words, your tone can be informal, but your copy should be clean.