10 Ways To Be More Professional With Email

Adobe Firefly-created email envelope on a computer screen.

We’re all working professionals, right? You’ve used email before, right? Email. You know, the bit of content that you send out using Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other web programs?

What I’ve encountered over the many years of sending emails out back and forth is that many folks just don’t get how to send emails. I’m not talking about sending it to your parents or your friends, but when you’re sending it for work, correspondence, or perhaps just to get your next job.

Here are 10 things you can do to be more professional sounding and have some credibility, even when dealing with colleagues and folks you have a business rapport with.

1. Have a Clear Subject Line

Doesn’t matter whether you have a good rapport with someone or it’s a co-worker or whatever. Don’t simply have a one-word subject line unless it makes sense. A subject line like “fix” or “one more thing” or perhaps “need” doesn’t help tell me what you’re sending me.

Do the recipient a favor and spend a couple more seconds typing in a thoughtful and succinct subject line so that it can be filed away and easily found. If you need an additional report from a colleague, put “Need executive summary for report” and that will give readers an understanding of how to prioritize your needs.

2. Avoid Email Wallpaper Backgrounds

You know who I’m talking about. They’re the ones who like to customize everything on their email when they start a new job or get new software. All just to add their flavor and brand to the company.

So while everyone who uses Outlook has the default settings, then there’s that one person with the cloud background or the other Outlook theme that distorts everything when an email is sent.

Wallpaper backgrounds, unless used by everyone in the company or your organization do nothing to help show you’re professional. You’re representing a brand now so while you’re an individual, you need to understand that you reflect on what the company stands for.

Lose the colorful wallpaper and save it for your personal use to send to your friends.

3. Show Value When Forwarding Long Email Chains

Have you ever realized that when you’ve been forwarded an email from a colleague about a certain issue or topic going on and multiple people have contributed to the conversation string?

Imagine how painful it can be to scour through that long email thread trying to make heads and tails of it. Now, think about what you’re doing to other people who you forward those conversations to. If you believe people are going to understand your entire dialogue with multiple people and thoughts, then you’re wrong. They need to understand the context and background.

Make sure that when you send it to them, you include more than a simple “FYI” or “Here are the details”. Explain what the email is about. Summarize it. You’ll help smooth out the transition.

4. Avoid Uncommon Fonts and Stick with the Basics

Chances are that you’ll be using Outlook or another app to send emails. If you’re using webmail or other email platforms, then you’re probably in the same boat. Make sure that you’re using some of the most common fonts that are shared across all computers/systems.

Stick with Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Georgia or a couple of others. Don’t try and be fancy with your emails. The point is to make sure people SEE what you want to write. And don’t try and make your font color anything unique. There’s nothing professional about having a pink font color on a white background. Stick with black. Black is professional. You’re professional.

5. Emails Should Be Rich- or Plain-Text

This is probably a good way to go so you don’t worry about how the formatting on your email. Maybe some email clients just don’t see bullet points or underlined words the same. It’s best to imagine yourself going with low-tech barebones means to get your message seen.

6. Include a Signature

How many times have you received an email from a business professional and only days later, you need to get in touch with them so you look at their emails for the contact information but lo and behold, there wasn’t anything there? Do you need to get a background on someone? The best place is their signature. But if there’s no signature with your phone number or email address, how are people going to know how to reach you? Moreover, what’s your title and how do you spell your last name?

These things can be important in the business world. Even in your office, signatures can help newbies figure out who does what in the company faster. Oh, and one other thing. If you’re going to have a company-wide signature format, make sure that everyone follows this standard exactly. No one is exempt.

7. Is Your Email Relevant to the Majority of Your Audience?

Avoid talking about irrelevant things in an email if there are more than two people who will see it. If you have five people all with different needs and objectives, don’t talk about your dog if only one other person understands what you’re talking about. It’s unprofessional, no one probably cares, and why can’t you address that in another email instead of wasting space for other people to read about? Moreover, the email may be saved by other folks, so you want them to see what type of drivel you include.

8. Should the Conversation Be An Email or Phone Call?

Hopefully, you’re not finding yourself writing an email that mimics “War & Peace,” but if you think you could win a Pulitzer Prize or even be a contender for a book on tape, then you might want to scrap the email and get on the phone with the recipient of your email and set up a face-to-face or phone meeting. It makes things much easier and less distracting. Less chance of any misunderstandings and you can document in a Word file.

9. When Attaching Files, Make It Clear What They Are

People love to send files in emails. But often they don’t know how large the files are and are oblivious to what’s going on. Most email clients will allow you to attach up to 10MB of files to an email. This is to help prevent clogging of bandwidth. The larger the file size, the longer it will take for your email to reach its recipients. When you send files over, make sure you list what they are so the receiver can understand why they’re getting them.

10. Punctuation, Grammar and Spelling Matter

Do you sound professional if you misspell words, forget how to punctuate and write incorrectly? I sure hope you care about how you’re writing because if you use words that don’t make you sound smart, then you’re going to have a tough time building up credibility.

Another thing to consider is avoiding abbreviations unless all recipients know what they stand for. If you use “FTW,” do you think everyone knows what it stands for? What about EOD? Probably best to write it out, and then abbreviate it.

What other tips do you recommend?

2 responses to “10 Ways To Be More Professional With Email”

  1. sanjeppu Avatar

    yeah…..its goood and it might be helpful someone.


  2. Good luck with things Avatar
    Good luck with things

    10. Punctuate, grammer and spelling count.

    I hope the misspelling of grammer [sic] was intended.

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