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writing an emailWe spend so much of our time communicating digitally these days that it’s easy to do it on autopilot, barely thinking about what we’re tapping out and sending. Following the tips below of what to do (and not to do) can improve your email etiquette—and positively impact your professional reputation and the effectiveness of your communications.

KMA Human Resources provides customized training to help drive employee performance, including programs on how to improve your team’s communication skills, such as email etiquette. For more information, or to schedule your training, contact us today at info@kmahr.com.


  • Clearly and concisely state the reason for the email in your subject line (including adapting forwarded messages to be sure they are clear).
  • Start your message with why you are writing and what you want your reader to do once he or she has read it.
  • Put specific needed-by information (for example, “due 12/15”) in your subject line.
  • Keep your message short and confined to an open window (don’t make your reader scroll).
  • Use simple formatting features to help with easy reading (bullets/bolding/numbering).
  • Create separate messages for unrelated topics (and consider the preference of your reader for content, style, and email frequency).
  • Use timing to your advantage. Emailing in the early morning or late PM is more likely to draw your reader’s attention.
  • Remember your messages can easily be forwarded, so always keep your tone polite, professional, and grammatically correct.


  • Reply All unless everyone should know about your response (unless you’ve been instructed to do so by the sender).
  • Over copy others on your messages.
  • Use emojis L or overuse exclamation marks!
  • Copy another person’s boss as a way to get around a gatekeeper or to ensure accountability.
  • Put anything in writing you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with a lawyer.
  • Make anything urgent unless it is a safety issue or a need-by-today message.
  • Write in the heat-of-the-moment. Face-to-face is the best place to manage problems.
  • Hit send if you would not say the same message in a face-to-face conversation.