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Email Dos and Donts

Email Dos and Don’ts

  1. Be concise and to the point: Do not make an e-mail longer than it needs to be. A long email can be very discouraging to read. Email is meant to be a quick medium and requires a different kind of writing than letters.
  2. Answer all questions and pre-empt further questions: An email reply must answer all questions in one mail. If you do not answer all the questions the first time, you will receive further mails.  This is a waste of yours and the senders time and it is frustrating. Pre-empting, however gives the impression you are efficient and thoughtful and it is excellent customer service. 
  3. Use proper spelling, grammar & punctuation: Improper spelling, grammar and punctuation give a bad impression of you and your company. Correct spelling and grammar is important for conveying the message properly. Emails with no commas or full-stops are difficult to read and can sometimes change the meaning of the text.
  4. Answer swiftly: Each business e-mail should be replied as per the priority.  Priority has to be given to e-mails requesting information that only the recipient can provide. If you receive a complicated email and need longer than the agreed response period, reply to the sender advising you have received their request and will get back to them. This is extremely polite and will put the sender’s mind at rest. Try to minimize pending emails in mail box.
  5. Use templates for frequently used responses: Some emails you will need to send over and over again. Save these texts as response templates and paste these into your message when you need them.  You can save your templates in a word document, or use pre-formatted emails.
  6. Do not attach unnecessary files: Sending large attachments can annoy some people and even bring down their email system. Wherever possible try to compress attachments and only send them when it is productive. 
  7. Use proper structure & layout: Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph. When making points, number them or use bullets. Do not use wallpapers or colored background in the emails.
  8. Keep your language gender neutral: Avoid using gender specific language such as ‘the user should add a signature to his emails’, If you don’t know the gender, either use ‘he or she’ or use the neutral gender the user should add a signature to their emails’.
  9. Do not write in CAPITALS: CAPITALS IS THE WRITTEN FORM OF SHOUTING. This can be highly annoying and might trigger an unwanted response in the form of a flame mail. Therefore, try not to send any email text in capitals.
  10. Take care with abbreviations and emoticons: In business emails do not use abbreviations such as BTW and LOL, they are unprofessional and not understood by everyone. The same goes for emoticons and smileys – these are inappropriate.
  11. Don't leave out the message thread: When you reply to an email, you must include the original mail in your reply. In other words, click 'Reply' instead of 'New Mail'.
  12. Add disclaimers to your emails: It is important to add disclaimers to your internal and external mails, since this can help protect your company from liability.
  13. Read the email before you send it: Proofread your email. This will help you to send a more effective message and avoid mistakes, misunderstandings and inappropriate comments. Remember spell check can only highlight gross mistakes. It doesn’t highlight real words in the wrong place. For e.g. “he has gone” could easily be written as “he was gone” – just by typing a ‘w’ instead of an ‘h’.  They are both legitimate sentences but mean different things.
  14. Be careful with formatting: Remember to use common professional fonts that are majorly supported by all email service providers. Do not use wallpapers in a business email.
  15. Use a meaningful subject: Try to use a subject that is meaningful to the recipient as well as yourself.
  16. Add Signature:  It is important to create a signature stating your name, designation, company name, and contact numbers. Keep it simple.
  17. Add a Byline: You may write a short byline about the service your organization provides or a short byline to convey environmental messages through emails, for example: Save Trees. Please do not print this email unless necessary.
  18. Do not forward Chain Mails: Delete them as soon as you receive them.
  19. Do not reply to an angry email immediately: Compose your response email, wait for 1 hour, re-read your email and then send it. You will be much calmer and more prepared to send a neutral, professional email.
  20. Out of Office Message: Before you leave the office for a holiday or a business trip, set up your ‘out of office message’ on your email systems. This way if somebody emails you while you’re away, they will receive a mail announcing that you’re not in office. When you set an ‘out of office message’, do mention the date of your return, provide contact details of an alternate person that they can reach out to in your absence, and do not forget to turn it off when you return to work.

    Points to Remember
  • Always have a Subject for every mail.
  • Make the subject convey in brief the intent of the message.
  • Write the addressee’s e-mail address in the “to” box.
  • Use the CC box to enter the e-mail addresses of the people who you want to copy on the mail.
  • Always use the same e-mail to respond/reply/forward etc. so that the history of the issue is not lost.
  • Avoid short forms, use complete words.
  • Be very specific and clear when you state the problem/issue/query.
  • If you are not the person handling the particular area, it would be better for you to forward the mail to the person concerned with a copy marked to the sender, rather than asking the sender to write to the person concerned.


Can people like you and me think of brining about a revolution? The revolution has already arrived and the actual harbinger of the revolution is AMP! These are the people who work selflessly for the community and forge a path for others to follow. I admire these ...

Dr M M Ansari, Member, UGC & Ex-Information Commissioner, New Delhi



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