Email Etiquette - Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, August 09, 2016 2:06 PM | Anonymous

Email Etiquette

20 Tips and tricks to cut down on clutter and get a better response rate

The NLA staff recently sat down to discuss email etiquette, email best practices, and how to better manage email communications overall. Below are the top tips and suggestions from the team.

    1. Think twice about hitting “Reply All”. Refrain from hitting this overly used button unless you really think everyone on the list needs to receive the email. The infamous “Reply All” button is one of the biggest contributors to email clutter.
    2. Subject lines are key! Keep them short, simple, and clear. You may also want to consider including actions required right in the subject. For example, “RESPONSE NEEDED: Opinion on XYZ” or “FOR REVIEW: Draft Contract”. Consider taking it a step further and include deadlines within the subject line for maximum impact and response rate.
    3. Ask yourself if the email you are sending is necessary or are you cluttering someone’s inbox. Sometimes no action or reply is required. Don’t feel obligated to say “thanks” or “got it” unless the sender asks you to confirm. This can vary on a case by case basis so use your best judgment.
    4. Keep fonts and font colors professional. If you want to be taken seriously you will not want to use a whimsical font in purple. Stick to colors like black or blue.
    5. Turn your caps lock off. No one likes to receive emails where they feel like they are being yelled at throughout.
    6. Consider the content. Is what you are writing confidential? You might want to think twice about emailing confidential information. Email is easy to forward so always assume that what you are putting in writing might be viewed by others. It is better to be safe than sorry!
    7. Get to the point and fast. People have limited time and short attention spans. Get your main point, question, or purpose out first and not hidden in a long wordy email. Use the rest of the email to support the initial purpose, if needed, but chances are that if your email is too long then it will not be read in its entirety.
    8. “Tone” down the humor and/or sarcasm. Tone is often lost in an email and can lead to misunderstandings. You do not want to inadvertently offend someone when you were just trying to be funny. When in doubt cut it out and keep it professional.
    9. Use signature blocks. If people have to search far and wide for your phone number, website, or other contact info they are less likely to contact you.
    10. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Your email is a reflection of you and your professionalism. Do not solely rely on spellcheck as a word can be spelled correctly but not be the right word you intended.
    11. Is your attachment attached? We’ve all done it - stated in the email that there is an attachment when in fact we never attached it. Or attached the wrong document. This should be a part of your process when proofreading.
    12. Double-check your recipient list. Have you ever accidentally sent a message to the wrong person because you used the auto fill feature or hit “Reply” instead of “Forward”? These things happen and have the potential to be very embarrassing to you and to the recipient.
    13. The “High Importance” feature should be taken seriously and not overused. Not everything is urgent. The more a sender uses this feature the more recipients stop perceiving the sender’s urgent emails as urgent. Use sparingly for maximum impact.
    14. Respond to emails. Sounds simple enough but not always adhered to. Consider setting a company-wide or personal policy in regard to response times to emails. Even if you do not have the answer right away you want to at least acknowledge receipt of the email and forthcoming full response.
    15. Set an “Out of Office” reply. We are not all available 24/7 and that is OK. You just need to make sure you communicate when you are unreachable and when you will return. It is also a good practice to indicate who can be contacted in your absence if there is an urgent matter.
    16. Folders are your friends. If you have thousands of emails in your inbox or even hundreds, you need to consider setting time aside to create folders within your email program. This will cut down on lost emails or emails that you thought you dealt with but didn’t. The only emails in your inbox should be emails that you need to take action on. Once action is taken, file it.
    17. Block time for email. Most of us could probably spend our entire day managing email communications and never get anything else done. Set time in your day to check email and time to do actual work.
    18. Turn off email notifications and pop ups if you are easily distracted. This can help some people who find themselves doing ten things at once to better stay on task.
    19. Use a scheduling tool. Trying to schedule a meeting can easily result in dozens of emails if you are coordinating with multiple people. To cut down on the back and forth and the clutter, try a scheduling tool such as or They are free and will make your life, inbox, and scheduling easier to manage.
    20. Type it, don’t talk it. Sure mobile devices make our daily lives easier, but talk to text is not always “on point”. Deciphering emails that were written using the talk to text feature or even autocorrect can be a challenge for email recipients. If you use these features, it is best to proofread before hitting “Send”. Having a disclaimer on your mobile emails is not enough and incoherent messages might make the sender look unprofessional.

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