Email Etiquette

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Updated: 11/13/2012 12:42 pm Published: 11/09/2012 4:21 pm

Certified Business Etiquette Consultant, Rachel Wagner, shares email pet peeves to avoid, as well as best practices so that your business emails will always reflect on you and your company in a positive way.

Biggest email pet peeves
• Not responding in a timely manner
• Sending emails that are too long, ramble, and never get to the point
• Emails with poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors
• Not answering the questions in the email
• Overusing Reply to All
• Using text language

Best ways to make emails look professional and give a good impression

1. Don’t be too casual in a business email. An email to a friend can take on the tone of chatty casualness, but make a distinction in a business email of being more formal, like a business letter.

2. Use a greeting and closing. Never go directly into the body of the email without a greeting such as Dear, Hi, or Hello and the person’s name. The greeting is like the handshake of the email. Use a closing or sign off just like in a business letter, such as Sincerely, Warmly, Best Regards, etc., whatever fits the relationship you have with the recipient.

3. Use short paragraphs instead of one long paragraph. Short paragraphs of 3-5 lines are easier to read on a computer screen.

4. Use bullets and numbering if you have several items to list. It makes it easier to read and refer back to.

5. Use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Nothing gives a better impression than a well-written email that is free of grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.

6. Get to the point and put the “call to action” near the top of the body in a paragraph of its own. That way it won’t get overlooked and the recipient will know what response/action is required of him/her after reading the email.

7. Write a specific subject line. Add the subject line last, after the email is written, so it will reflect the specific topic of the email. Never leave the subject line blank. Also, change the subject line to reflect the current email in a lengthy email thread.

8. Attach any attachments as soon as you mention them in the body of the email. This prevents you from forgetting to attach them.

9. Use smiley faces and other emoticons sparingly. These aren’t professional in business emails. Use only for friends and close coworkers.

10. Never write anything in an email that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper. Never write anything negative about a coworker, boss, or your company. Email is never private. You never know who receives a forwarded copy.

11. Re-read and edit before hitting the Send key. Most people fail to do this very important step. Eyeball it carefully, even read it out loud. Think about the tone of the email. Is it positive and not reflecting negatively in any way? The email is gone in a nano-second and can’t be retrieved.

Remember, email is not always the best form of communication.

Just because we have email doesn’t mean it’s always the best way to communicate. Use it for short messages, which is what it was created for. Don’t use it if the topic could be sensitive, emotional, confidential, or lengthy. There are times when it’s better to pick up the phone or go down the hall for a face to face meeting.
Bottom line: Emails are a reflection of your professional image and they reflect on your company. Make sure they look and sound professional for the best impression.

Bottom line: Emails are a reflection of your professional image and they reflect on your company. Make sure they look and sound professional for the best impression.

Is there any personal message you want to share about yourself, business, product or topic?
Gift certificates for private etiquette coaching make great gifts—for graduation, in honor of a promotion, and birthdays. Viewers may contact Rachel at 918.970.4400 or email

Viewers are also invited to sign up for Rachel’s free business etiquette tips e-newsletter, The Savvy Professional. It comes to their Inbox 6 times a year. They can sign up on Rachel’s website at

Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol

About Rachel:
Rachel Wagner is trained and certified as a Corporate Etiquette and International Protocol Consultant by the renowned Protocol School of Washington® in Washington, D.C. She is founder of Tulsa-based Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol and is armed with more than two decades of experience as a teacher and workshop speaker.

She teaches business etiquette and dining etiquette skills to corporate audiences, leadership teams, and sales teams to help them maximize their own personal brand and reflect their company’s brand with excellence. This training positions them to gain a competitive edge, attain greater upward mobility, and increase bottom-line results.

Rachel’s clients include political figures, small and large companies, law firms, financial institutions, oil and gas companies, and universities. Additional services include one-on-one executive coaching and family dining etiquette training.

As an etiquette expert, Rachel is frequently quoted or interviewed by national and local media outlets including Investor’s Business Daily, Tulsa Business Journal, The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, The Journal Record, Oklahoma Today, The Orange County (CA) Register, Detroit News, AmEx OPEN Forum, Kansas Public Radio, and Tulsa’s KRMG. Her popular business etiquette e-newsletter, The Savvy Professional, is read by hundreds of subscribers.

Rachel is on the board of the National Speakers Association of Oklahoma, and the recipient of the chapter’s 2011 Presidential Award for leadership. She is also a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, Bixby Metro Chamber, and Leadership Bixby Class XI.

After living “up north” in Madison, Wisconsin for over 25 years, Rachel now considers Tulsa, Oklahoma her home. She has three grown children and enjoys reading, travel, and time with family and friends—especially over a good cup of coffee or on a sunny beach. When she’s not working you might find her learning to swing dance or traveling the back roads with her husband in their ’95 red Corvette.

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