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Established in 1974

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Correct business email etiquette


Over the last few years it has become more and more accepted for us to communicate using email. It allows us to contact people from all over the world, at the click of a mouse, and is now considered to be as legitimate as a letter. This being the case, if you want to be part of business today, you will be expected to know how to write professional, concise business emails. So it’s a good idea to learn ‘netiquette’ – the etiquette of the internet.


It’s not hard to produce professional business emails – you just need to follow the rules we give you below:

Rule One – Be prompt with your responses. Instant communication is great, but it also means that senders expect you to respond within a very short space of time. It’s often a good idea to have an automated receipt attached to your business email, stating how long it’ll take for them to receive a response from you and advising them if you are away on holiday, out of the office etc. It also reassures the sender that their message has been received.

Rule Two – Be formal! It might be tempting to be informal, sloppy even, with your emails. But that would be a mistake. These days, emails are considered in the same way as letters and should be treated as such. You should still use ‘Dear... ‘but the more formal ‘Yours sincerely/faithfully endings have now been largely replaced with ‘Warmest regards’ or ‘Best regards’. One big no-no is kisses – under no circumstances use kisses, such as xxx, on any business communication. Make sure your grammar, punctuation, spelling and capitalisation are correct as mistakes will reflect badly on your company. Remember in the land of email, capitals may be interpreted as shouting!

Rule Three – Watch your tone. This is something that many people forget when they write an email – what you write in jest, may well be taken as being serious by the recipient. It has now become common for people to write the letter ‘J’ after a comment that is meant to be a joke to avoid misunderstandings. We’d advise against doing this, and using emoticons too, as they are not professional enough for business emails.

Rule Four – Don’t embed lots of graphics, attach documents (unless the recipient is expecting them) or use fancy fonts and colours. An email with text written in red will not go down well and graphics and attachments may prevent the email from being delivered to their inbox.

Rule Five – As with all business correspondence, make sure you keep it brief and to the point. The recipient is not really going to be interested in what you had for your dinner yesterday, but there’s nothing wrong with you rounding off your email with an appropriate pleasantry such as ‘I hope you’ve been enjoying the wonderful weather we’ve been having recently.'

Rule Six – Remember that email is not private. So, when you write something make sure it’s not confidential or sensitive. A good test for this is to think about what you’d be happy to write on a postcard. Also keep in mind that messages may be forwarded on with all the previous correspondence still attached, so if you’ve written something derogatory about a client, they may end up seeing it. The moral here is don’t do it – keep all correspondence professional.

Rule Seven – Always use the subject line. When you are sending a business email, it’s useful to let the recipient know what the mail is about without them having to click into the body of the mail. This is what the subject line is for, so use it to provide a title or brief description of the contents of the email.

Rule Eight – Don’t forward on junk mail and this includes virus warnings. They are nearly always fake, fishing emails, which will, at the very least, annoy the recipient and at their worst damage their computer.

Stick to these rules and you’ll not go far wrong. But, if you feel like you need more help, why not request a prospectus for our Business English with Spoken English course? You’ll learn how to write various different kinds of business communications, whilst improving your English language skills.