One of the things we begin to understand as a student is professional etiquette. This prepares us for the world of work and covers various imperatives – from what we wear to the way we communicate. Email forms part of work communication, and while it might seem a relatively unimportant component, believe me when I say that your email skills say a lot about you.

At school we learn the basics. We learn how to structure the email, starting at “Dear Sir/Madam,” and ending with “Warm regards”; but email etiquette goes beyond that.

From the structure, to the do’s and don’ts, doing email right may just land you the job – it is usually the very first impression a prospective employer will get of you.

So as much as the email principles we learn in school are important, there is a lot that people don’t pay attention to outside of that. Let’s revise the structure:

Email structure:

• Recipient email address – You must always put in the receiver’s email, and your mail will not get sent if you don’t.
• Subject – This is where you say what your email is about. Try to not make it very long; it must be short and simple.
• Greeting – You must always greet; the way you greet depends on who you are sending the email to. It’s always safe to stick to Dear Sir/Madam.
• Main text – This is where you say what the email is about – the nitty gritty, that covers everything it needs to and nothing more.
• Regards – This is where you say your goodbye.
• Attachments – Documents like a CV or any assessments required for a job application. Whatever documents or pictures you include is an attachment.
It is important to always understand business emails are a formal way of communicating; you are not texting your friends, so casual language should not be used.

Let’s look at what you should never do:

Email etiquette don’ts
• Take a while to get to the point – Get straight to the point, from the subject till the last word. People are busy; a clear subject line with a to-the-point message, tells the reader that you appreciate this fact, and will score you immediate points.
• Say everything on the subject line – A subject is only to say what your email is about and shouldn’t be more than about 10 words. If you’re copying and pasting your text make sure it’s not pasted on the subject line as that makes reading the email hard; and if you applying for a job, the employer would disqualify you because of that.
• Use casual language – No matter how annoyed you are, it should never sound like that in a business email. Always keep it clean and professional; an email is not social media and you are not talking to your friends. For example, ‘Hey’ is too casual as an email greeting; ‘Hello’ is fine but ‘Dear’ will always be the best bet.

Email etiquette do’s
• Read and reread – Always reread to check for grammar mistakes and typos, and whether you’re sending the email to the right person.
• Good manners – Business language is just basic manners; Respect is a fundamental that should always be applied in every email.
• Kindness and respect – even through text – go a long way; make sure that’s what you always give out.

FunDza appreciates all the love we get from our Fanz, and we know that after you read this blog you will also be making an effort to reflect your new knowledge in your ongoing communications with us.


If you liked this article and would want to see an example of email check out our Work Wise article here.

Tell us: Is this new to you? What would you add about email etiquette?