To express yourself effectively by email, treat the content with the same care as other writing. Be scrupulous about grammar, punctuation and language.

Accuracy, courtesy and professionalism should be your watchwords, regardless of the recipient.

Here are some practical DOs and DON'Ts to help:

  • DO have a clear subject line.
    Be specific. The clearer your subject line, the more likely your message will be read promptly.
  • DO use a professional salutation.
    However well you know the recipient, use a professional greeting such as 'Hello'. Only shorten a person's name when you are given permission to do so.
  • DON'T overuse exclamation marks, emoticons, or words in CAPITALS.
    Often they do not translate well in business communications.
  • DON'T use humour.
    Humour does not translate well via email. What you think is funny may be misinterpreted without the accompanying tone and facial expressions. When in doubt, leave humour out – especially in business communications.
  • DON'T assume the recipient knows what you are talking about.
    This means no 'one-liners'. Include the subject and any references to previous emails, research or conversations. It can be frustrating and time consuming to have to look back at the email chain to find the context. Your recipient may have hundreds of emails coming in each day and quite likely won't remember the chain of events leading up to your email.
  • DO proofread your message.
    If your email is littered with misspelt words and grammatical errors, you may be perceived as sloppy and careless.
  • DO reply to all emails.
    Send a timely and polite reply to each legitimate email addressed to you.

Source: Melissa Watson, UBT Head Office, Sydney