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Online etiquette: top tips for writing effective and professional emails

If you want outcomes and to be seen as professional, it’s a good idea to keep casual and friendly emails to a minimum
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© CQUniversity 2021

Writing effective emails involves good use of structure. Consider the context before sending an email.

Top tips

  • Security — remember that emails are not always secure.
  • Bad news should be delivered in person.
  • Am I just avoiding personal interaction?
  • Do I need to get the message to a large number number of people? Is there likely to be some discussions as a result of this email (and if so, should we discuss in person or in a meeting)?
  • Always check spelling and grammar.

Subject lines

When it comes to subject lines, the golden rule is to be clear and specific. For example:

General Subject Clear and specific subject
Meeting Action requested: Information required for project meeting 10am Tuesday 12th
Friday arvo catchup Outcomes agreed for general meeting: Friday 7th June
Update FYI only: …


Proof read before sending

Make sure all the information and numbers in your email are correct before you send it. Proof read for assumed pre-knowledge and check what you have written makes sense.

Check for any unintended ‘tone’ — sometimes the way we frame our sentences and the words we use can create unintended reactions. For example, avoid aggressive words or ordering people, and use the words please and thank you.

Online etiquette

Don’t swear in an email. There is no place for it — ever. You should also avoid USING CAPITALS, BECAUSE IT IMPLIES THAT YOU ARE SHOUTING. If you think you need to use capitals, then you definitely need to talk to that person rather than email.

Of course there is also a time and place for casual friendly emails, but if you want outcomes, and you want to be seen as professional, then it’s a good idea to keep these to a minimum.

Ever wondered who might be looking at your emails? Here is an interesting look at the possibilities — and a reminder that anything online or sent by email is trackable and forever.

© CQUniversity 2021
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