10 Email Etiquette Rules that if Broken could Anger the Boss

10 Email Etiquette Rules that if Broken could Anger the Boss

Over the past few months here at RZ Towers in Bristol we’ve noticed email exchanges seem to be adopting a much more casual, and at times, inappropriate tone, as well as more fairly serious errors becoming regularly apparent.

With this in mind we thought it would be a good idea to blog a timely reminder on the benefits of professional email etiquette –and why adopting these techniques, when communicating by this digital medium, should keep the boss off your back.


Attach what you say you have attached

A classic email etiquette error – how many times have you received an email saying “see the attached” to find nothing has been actually attached to the email? You wait a few minutes in the hope something turns up from the sender, it doesn’t and then decide you have to be the one to chase. How much of a waste of time is that?

So don’t be that person who forgets to attach the required item – as soon as you say in your email you’ve attached the document then go find it and attach it, then you can carry on with the rest of your email.  Much easier that way.


Sending emails to the wrong person (who shares their first name with your intended recipient)

Your job may require you to email a vast range of people and in a rush you can choose to the wrong recipient (who happen to share the same first name). You might type Paul into to “To…” field with the aim to send it to paul@company-y.com but your email address book chooses paul@widgets-x.com and as you’re in a hurry you fire the email on out without spotting your faux-pas.

You then get a confused response from Paul at Widgets-X who has no idea what you are talking about.

Typically this makes you look:

  • a) disorganised
  • b) lacking attention to detail
  • c) in too much of a hurry

... in addition to the potential risk of sharing confidential or personal information with the wrong person.


Misspelling the recipient’s name

You’re busy, we know that, but do take a moment to ensure you’ve spelt the recipient’s name correctly. People do like to see others have spelt their name correctly, so if it’s a name whose spelling you are unfamiliar with then double check their profile over on LinkedIn or Facebook to make sure you have gotten it right.

We asked Darren Moloney, Technical Director over at All Things Web® for any recent experiences with this (as we know his surname can be commonly mis-spelt):

"I recently emailed a holiday company based in the USA with my details and a within a few hours I got an email reply starting with “Hello Mr Malone”. My surname was clearly spelt “Moloney” at the end of my email so it didn’t give a good impression that the company cared enough to ensure my surname was even spelt correctly. It did cloud my view of them and make me unsure as to whether I should go ahead and carry on my enquiry."

You may get away with it if you have a good relationship with the other person and it’s a genuine mistake, but misspelling the recipient’s name when they maybe a potential client is a recipe for losing sales.


Don’t use nicknames or shorten the recipient’s first name

In our opinion it’s a sign of being over-friendly or too informal, and that can niggle the recipient, especially if they are a customer and want to keep things on a professional level.

Classics are using “Pete” for “Peter” or “Andy” for “Andrew” – typically expect to get a sharp response back from the recipient if it really gets on their nerves, but at least then you’ll know. ?


Use salutations and email greetings professionally

One of our biggest recent email bugbears is overly casual salutations like “Heh…” (or “Hey”) or “Alright” at the start of people’s emails.

These types of greetings should be used at the watercooler amongst co-workers, not in your emails to clients or suppliers. Keep your salutations to “Hi”,  “Hello”, or “Dear” to look professional.


Too many exclamation points in your Email!!!!!!!

You might be excited by the latest sales report or contract you just won, but keep your exclamation points to a minimum in your emails. Too many just make you look way to emotional and can be unsettling for some recipients.


Adopting the right tone

Think carefully when writing your emails, you might be busy and want things done now but forgetting to say “please” and “thank you” can send the wrong tone in your email. Where you see your email as clear and concise, your recipient might think you’re being overly direct or even just really angry which can lead to issues.

Aim for positive emails where possible and if not it might be better to call the person involved first and then fire off an email so there is no confusion over the tone.




Don’t be this person. Please. Seriously, don’t!

If you want to really look cross or angry (or clueless) then leave your caps lock on, but it just makes it look like you are yelling in your emails and many people today don’t like that.


Crying wolf with the “High Importance” marker

Don’t send every email out flagged with the “high importance” marker or people will just think you’re a bit of an attention seeker or drama queen (or king!). Use it sparingly and when you do you’ll find you will get a faster response from others.

Tim Murrow from castor wheels manufacturer, BIL Castors, responded to our article with:

"With the amount of emails being received and send ever increasing, we are all bound to make mistakes from time to time including myself! Think twice before you hit ‘reply all’…. You could end up in an embarrassing situation and other times annoying people with mail that has nothing to do with them!

However my pet hate is when someone sends me emails and every single one they send is marked “High Priority” in a bid to get me to hurry up to respond to them, I find that rather annoying, how can I then differentiate which one of theirs is the most urgent?"


Proofread, proofread, proofread

Typically your emails shouldn’t be overly long so there is no excuse to have an email full of typos or incorrect use of grammar. Spellcheckers are good but they can let mistakes go through so we recommend you try Grammarly to help ensure your emails go out with the correct spelling and grammar – this goes a long way in how people view you and your company.


So don't fall foul of the boss, take a little more time and you'll be adhering to the correct email etiquette like a professional! Let us know any of your email bugbears too.

Posted by Paul Randall
10th July 2017