Monday, November 27, 2017

Netiquette for Writing Emails: The 7 Elements of a Good Email

Email Access: Clip Art
Clip Art: Hotel Icon Email Access
Credit: Hotel Icon Email Access Clip Art - Red/white clip art

Max Haroon, a social entrepreneur, a speaker and an author is a retired IT and e-Marketing specialist. He is the founder of the Society of Internet Professionals, established in 1997. He has hosted numerous events and conducted workshops in Entrepreneurship and Leveraging the Technology over the last twenty years. He can be reached at

"There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it."
~  Dale Carnegie

Email is still the core of business communication. I spend a great deal of my day dealing with emails. I get tons of emails (one dozen of email addresses - I know, yikes). It is appalling for me to see some emails with typos, embarrassing errors and poorly formatted. Such emails have the potential to sabotage your reputation both personally and professionally. I am writing this article to help SIP members write “good” emails.

Just like any other task email communication has rules and etiquettes. By not following them you are risking your professionalism image and the reputation of organisation you representing.

Below are seven elements of email for each we discuss some issues and some pragmatic solutions you should be mindful in writing or replying to an email:
  1. Read Mindfully before Replying
  2. Typos and Grammatical Errors
  3. Subject and Salutation
  4. Closings
  5. Signature
  6. Down-Edited Reply
  7. Formatting and Style

1. Read Mindfully before Replying:
Your inner impulse may make you respond to an email without reading or understanding the intent fully. I have seen three replies from someone in the space of 1 minute (written around the midnight) which demonstrates that the reader was reading it bit by bit and replying to it bit by bit or didn’t review it before hitting “SEND” and then realizing more to add on!

2. Typos and Grammatical Mistakes:
Spelling and Grammatical mistakes show that you are lazy, inconsiderate or uneducated. Would you like to read newspaper with typos and mistakes? An example of a real email received   “I am deleted to introduce our ...” I think the sender meant ”I am delighted to introduce our ... ".

Use the Word for Windows to compose your reply or draft a new email. This has the added advantage of backup copy of your communication. The Word also provides Spelling and Grammar checker.

3. Subject and Salutation:
Subject Line: Make it the indicative of the content or to raise curiosity. People are more interested in the subject if it relates to them, such as their personal or professional issues. A good size of the subject line is 8 words.

Salutation: A highly overlooked area, this is where you are going to hurt someone‘s ego or relationship if you misspell their name or have not addressed properly. Some salutations like “Hey you guys or Hi folk” are laid-back and no-no for business or professional emails. In order of formality use “Dear .... , Hello . ., and Hi . .

4. Closings:
This comes just before signature. You have many choices, such as complimentary close or call to action (CTA). If you want response then say so in the closing. Some examples are: I’m looking forward to hearing from you; Kind thoughts; With many thanks.

5. Signature:
A signature consists of your name (full name), contact info, phone, email address, and website with a link.
If you sending the email on behalf of the organisation then make sure that your signature reflects the contact info, email address and the website of the organisation. If you wish to add any personal touch you can draw line underneath the signature and write follow me with icon and link to a LinkedIn and Facebook account. Do not go beyond six lines, it may be egocentric.

6. Down-Edited Reply:
Generally, people hit the reply button to an email and start the response from the top of the page then the sender do the same thing. If this cycle gets repeated the conversation becomes very lengthy. This approach is called Top-Edited Reply.

Use a more efficient approach called “Down-Edited Reply", explained below:
  • Begin on the top with a salutation and introduction, indicating the response is given below.
  • Eliminate lines and paragraphs of the sender’s email which have nothing to do with your response.
  • Write your response below the point you are responding.

7. Formatting and Style:
Presentation is equally, if not more, important then the content. Follow the rules of formatting and styles, such as:
  • Do not mix multiple sizes and multiple font types, use one size and the font easy to read on the computer/mobile.
  • Avoid multiple colours of text, one dark colour throughout is better.
  • Avoid a lot of exclamation marks. You can be excited about something once and not throughout the email.
  • All UPPER CASE means you are shouting and all lower case means you are too lazy.

In conclusion:
Please review and proof read your email; better still read it aloud to sense the tone of your message. That is why I have recommended earlier compose your email in Word document to give you extra time and space. If you are still composing your email in the email program then follow my safety point, write the email (new or reply) leaving the TO: temporarily blank, until you are ready to send. In this way you will not hit “SEND” without being mindful.

So, keep your email short, simple, clear, mind your manner, proof read it and check your tone.

Max Haroon | President
Society of Internet Professionals (SIP)

Your comments are welcomed

New Certificate Workshops "Leveraging Technology for Entrepreneurs" 
Max Haroon is planning to conduct three workshops on Writing Tools and Management of Emails. This is part of a series of Certificate Workshops “Leveraging Technology for Entrepreneurs” for members of the Society of Internet Professionals - one of many benefits of becoming a member of the SIP.

Please visit SIP’s Resources website page for the details.

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