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The Etiquette of Email: 5 Unbreakable Rules [and How ChatGPT Can Help]

Today, email is an essential part of modern-day professional life. Yet, so many of us need to take the time to really understand what it takes to write more effective emails.


Have you ever had a message that wasn't quite right? Or send something without considering the tone or impact it may have on the recipient? If so, you're not alone!



Whether you're a student, a working professional, or just someone who wants to keep in touch with friends and family, emails are a convenient and efficient way to stay connected.


However, with the convenience of email comes the need for proper professional email etiquette. Poorly written or thoughtless emails can leave a negative impression on the recipient and even damage professional relationships.


But don't worry; mastering the art of proper etiquette for your email communications is easier than it may seem. In this article, we will outline five unbreakable rules that will help you become a master of email etiquette.


By following these basic email etiquette rules, you can ensure that your emails are effective and professional and leave a positive impression on the recipient.


From how to address people properly to when to hit send, there are some unbreakable rules for proper email etiquette. Mastering these five rules will ensure that your emails remain professional, courteous and effective in any business setting. We'll even show you how to use tools like ChatGPT to help, along with some email etiquette examples.

So let's get started!


Email Etiquette Rule 1: Craft a Clear and Concise Subject Line

The email subject line is often the first thing the recipient will see, and it plays a crucial role in whether or not they will open and read the email. The effectiveness of an email, whether that's a business email or a personal email, can greatly depend on its subject line. Therefore, crafting it carefully is crucial.


The importance of a good subject line:

You want to grab the reader's attention and provide a clear idea of the email's content. So be specific, to the point, and avoid generic phrases like "Important" or "Meeting Update." To help the recipient quickly understand the purpose of the email and prioritize it accordingly, it's important to use clear and concise language. Let's try that in ChatGPT.

Sales emails with ChatGPT

Here are some more examples for business emails:

  1. Meeting Confirmation: Monday at 2 pm in Conference Room A

  2. Thank You for Your Business - Special Offer Inside!

  3. Question About Our Recent Project Together

  4. Invitation: Join Us for a Networking Event Next Week

  5. Reminder: Your Deadline for Project X is Approaching"

In summary, effective B2B or professional emails should be clear, concise, specific, and personalized. They should also create a sense of urgency, excitement, or exclusivity and provide important information that helps to prevent confusion or misunderstandings.

Some examples of outreach emails:

  1. [Name of recipient], I thought you might be interested in this [relevant topic]

  2. Idea for [specific project or topic]

  3. [Name of recipient], a suggestion for your [something relevant to their work]

  4. Exciting opportunity for [their specific industry or interest]

  5. [Name of recipient], a new resource for [something relevant to their work]

Outreach emails aim to establish a connection or partnership with a recipient, whether it be for a business opportunity, collaboration, or networking. Effective outreach emails must catch the recipient's attention and entice them to open the email.


The email should then provide value to the recipient, showcase the sender's credibility, and create a sense of urgency to encourage action. Personalization and a clear call-to-action are also important elements of successful outreach emails.

Outreach emails with ChatGPT

And some examples for personal emails:

  1. Catching up!

  2. Happy birthday!

  3. Quick question

  4. Invitation to dinner

  5. Sending apologies

Remember, personal emails are typically more casual than business emails, but it's still important to be clear and concise. Try to find a balance between being friendly and being informative so that , even if you are trying to wriggle out of a commitment, the reader understands exactly what you mean.

Personal emails with ChatGPT

You can see how easy it is to tell ChatGPT what you need. You can copy and paste from this blog post, so don't forget to bookmark it!

Pitfalls to avoid:

A poorly written subject line can cause confusion, reduce the likelihood of the email being opened, and even damage professional relationships. Here are a few of the most common mistakes to avoid:

  • Using overly broad or generic language

  • Including too much information or detail

  • Writing in all caps or using excessive punctuation

  • Including irrelevant information or details

  • Writing a subject line that is too long or unclear

By crafting clear subject lines, you can improve the effectiveness of your emails and increase the likelihood of receiving a positive response from the recipient.


Email Etiquette Rule 2: Always Begin with a Respectful Greeting

Following professional email etiquette means starting on the right foot with a polite and respectful greeting. This sets the tone and can help establish a positive professional relationship with the recipient.

The purpose of a polite greeting in professional emails:

A polite greeting shows respect for the recipient and acknowledges their presence. It also helps to establish a friendly tone and can help to create a positive impression. Using a polite greeting is especially important when emailing someone for the first time or when communicating with a superior.

Appropriate salutations based on the relationship and context:

The appropriate salutation to use will depend on the context of the email and your relationship with the recipient. For example, if you are emailing a colleague, a business partner, or an associate, you might use "Dear [Name]," "Hi [Name]," or "Hello [Name]." If you are emailing someone with whom you have a more formal relationship, use "Dear Ms./Mr. [Last Name]."

Examples of effective greetings for different scenarios:

Sure, here are some examples of greetings with a bit more personality:


Professional email to a colleague or client:

  • Greetings, [First Name]!

  • Hey [First Name], how's it going?

  • Good day, [First Name]!

Professional email to someone you don't know:

  • Hello [Job Title] [Last Name],

  • Hi there,

  • Greetings,

Informal email to a friend:

  • Hey there, [Nickname]!

  • What's up, [First Name]?

  • Yo [First Name]!

Email to a group:

  • Hello, all you cool cats and kittens!

  • Hey there, team!

  • Good day, fellow [Department/Team Name] members!

Email to a superior:

  • Greetings, oh wise and wonderful [Title] [Last Name]!

  • Good morning/afternoon, esteemed [Title] [Last Name]!

  • Hey boss, how's it going?

Well, those last ones are a little tongue-in-cheek, but you get the gist.


Remember to consider the context of the email and the relationship between you and the recipient when choosing an appropriate greeting.



Common mistakes to avoid when writing greetings:

When writing greetings, it's essential to avoid common mistakes that can make the email appear unprofessional or rude.

Some common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Using overly informal language, such as "Hey" or "Yo."

  • Misspelling the recipient's name (don't you dare!)

  • Failing to use a greeting at all

  • Using a greeting that is inappropriate for the context of the email

By starting your emails with a polite and respectful greeting, you can establish a positive professional relationship with the recipient and ensure that your message conveys the right tone.



Email Etiquette Rule 3: Keep Your Message Focused and Organized

The Importance of Clarity and Structure in Email Messages

In today's fast-paced world, people receive dozens of emails every day, and it can be easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. This is why it is crucial to keep your emails clear, concise, and well-organized.


When you're writing an email, it's essential to think about the purpose of the message and the key points you want to convey.


The clearer and more organized your email, the more likely the recipient will read it in its entirety and understand your message. Be sure to stick to the topic at hand and avoid going off on tangents or including irrelevant information.


Tips for Organizing Email Messages Effectively

To help organize your email messages effectively, consider the following tips:

  • Start with a clear and concise opening sentence that clearly states the purpose of the email.

  • Break up the body of the email into short paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point or idea.

  • To highlight important information or tasks, use bullet points or numbered lists.

  • Use subheadings to make it easier for the recipient to scan the email quickly and identify the main points.

  • Ensure the email's tone is appropriate for the recipient and the situation. Keep it professional and respectful.

  • If you have several different points to address, consider breaking them up into separate emails



Use of Short Paragraphs, Bullet Points, and Numbered Lists to Improve Readability

Long blocks of text can be overwhelming, and people may skip important information or even miss it altogether. This is why it's essential to break up your email into short paragraphs, using bullet points or numbered lists to highlight critical information.


When using bullet points or numbered lists, keep each item concise and to the point. Use action-oriented language and make sure the list is in logical order.


Here are some examples:


To-do list for the week:

  • Complete sales report by Wednesday

  • Schedule team meeting for Thursday

  • Follow up with the client on Friday

Key takeaways from the meeting:

  • Identified potential cost savings in Department X

  • Agreed on timeline for project Y

  • Discussed new marketing strategy for product Z

Steps for resolving customer complaints:

  1. Listen to the customer's concerns

  2. Apologize for the inconvenience

  3. Offer a solution or alternative

  4. Follow up to ensure satisfaction

Benefits of our product:

  • Saves time and increases productivity

  • User-friendly interface

  • Customizable to fit specific needs

  • Affordable pricing options

These examples show how bullet points and numbered lists can be used effectively to communicate important information clearly and concisely.


Copy.ai for emails

Examples of Well-Structured Emails

Here are some examples of well-structured emails.

I'm going to use Chat GPT to write them for me, so you can see how, with the right tools, you don't have to struggle to do this on your own.

  • An email from a manager to their team outlining a new project. The email has a clear subject line, starts with a brief introduction, and then uses bullet points to outline the project's goals, timeline, and key tasks. The email ends with a call to action for the team to schedule a meeting to discuss the project further.


  • An email from a customer service representative to a customer with a complaint. The email starts with a polite greeting and acknowledges the customer's issue. The body of the email is broken up into short paragraphs that address each of the customer's concerns. The email ends with a clear resolution, and a thank you for the customer's business.


Keeping your emails focused and organized can improve your communication skills and create a positive impression on your email recipients.

Email Etiquette Rule 4: Use a Polite and Professional Tone

It's essential to maintain a respectful tone in emails, regardless of the situation. Here are some tips on how to convey a polite and professional tone in your email messages:

Maintaining a respectful tone in your emails

Using respectful language is critical in business communications. Avoid using slang, jargon, or informal language that might be misunderstood or perceived as unprofessional. Remember to use proper grammar and spelling to ensure clarity and professionalism.


Avoiding slang, jargon, and informal language

Using slang or jargon in emails may only sometimes be appropriate, particularly when communicating with clients, colleagues, or business partners. However, to maintain a professional tone, it's best to use formal language and avoid the use of acronyms or abbreviations that may not be widely known.


Tips for conveying tone effectively in email messages

Consider the tone and context of your message. Be mindful of how your words might be interpreted by the recipient, and adjust your language accordingly. If you're unsure about how your message might be perceived, read it aloud or ask a colleague to review it before sending it.


Examples of email etiquette in different professional settings

Be aware of the recipient's expectations and adjust your tone and language accordingly. For example, when writing to a client, it's best to use formal language and a polite tone. On the other hand, when writing to a colleague, you may use a more casual tone but still maintain a level of professionalism.


Common mistakes to avoid when writing emails

When writing emails, it's crucial to avoid common mistakes that can compromise the professionalism and effectiveness of your message. These include writing in all caps, using multiple exclamation points, sending emails with typos or grammatical errors, or writing emails in an emotionally-charged state.


Remember: Always take the time to read your message before sending it, and consider how it might be received by the recipient.


Email Etiquette Rule 5: Close with a Courteous Sign-off and Your Signature

When you finish writing your email, it's important to close with a polite and professional sign-off. This helps to reinforce the tone of your message and leave a positive final impression.


The importance of a professional sign-off in business emails

A professional sign-off is essential in professional emails, as it is the final impression you leave on your recipient. It shows your respect and gratitude for the time they have taken to read your message. Proper email sign offs can help build stronger relationships with your colleagues, clients, or business partners.


Common sign-offs used in business emails

There are several common sign-offs used in business emails, such as:

  • Best regards

  • Sincerely

  • Kind regards

  • Thank you

  • Best

It's important to choose a sign-off that matches the tone of your email and your relationship with the recipient.


Proper use of the signature block, including job titles and contact details

Your email signature is an important element of your professional image. It includes your name, job title, company name, and contact information, such as your phone number, company website, and email address.


When creating your email signature, ensure it is concise and easy to read. It's also important to include only relevant contact information, such as your work email and phone number, rather than personal information.


Examples of effective sign-offs and signatures

Here are some examples of effective sign-offs and signatures:

ADD Examples


These examples demonstrate how to close an email with a professional sign-off and signature effectively. Remember to keep it concise, relevant, and appropriate for the situation.



Other Relevant Email Etiquette Tips

Email communication is an essential part of business communication, and mastering the art of writing effective and professional emails is vital for success. In addition to the five unbreakable rules discussed earlier, here are some other relevant email etiquette tips to help you communicate more effectively:

Use of proper email punctuation, including capitalization and punctuation marks

Punctuation is crucial,, as it can help to clarify the message's meaning and tone. A punctuated email can create clarity and understanding. Here are some tips for using proper email punctuation:

  • Use capitalization appropriately: Capitalize the first word of each sentence, as well as proper nouns such as names, places, and titles. Avoid typing entire messages in all caps, as this can come across as shouting and be perceived as rude.

  • Use punctuation marks: Use periods, commas, and other punctuation marks to separate ideas and create clarity in your message. However, be careful not to overuse exclamation points or question marks, as this can come across as unprofessional or overly emotional.

  • Use appropriate tone indicators: Emoticons and emojis can help convey tone in informal emails, but they are generally inappropriate in professional settings. Instead, use carefully crafted language and proper punctuation to communicate your message clearly.

Writing clear and concise email messages to improve communication

When crafting emails, it's crucial to prioritize clear and succinct writing. To achieve this, here are a few pointers for composing effective email messages:


Keep it short and to the point:

Avoid rambling or writing excessively long emails. Get straight to the point and keep your email message focused on the vital information.


Use simple language:

Avoid using overly complicated language or technical jargon that the recipient may not easily understand. Use plain language and keep your sentences short and straightforward.


Break up your text:

Use short paragraphs and bullet points to break up your text and make it easier to read. This will also help to highlight important information and make your message more memorable.


Use descriptive subject lines:

Your subject line should accurately reflect the content of your email and help the recipient understand its purpose. A clear subject line can grab the reader's attention and make your message more likely to be read.


Reading the email twice before sending to avoid grammar and spelling mistakes

One of the most common mistakes people make is poor grammar and spelling. These errors can create a negative impression and undermine the professionalism of your message. Here are some tips for avoiding grammar and spelling mistakes:

  • Proofread your message: Take the time to read your message carefully and check for any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. This will help to ensure that your message is clear and error-free.

  • Spell-check: Many email platforms have built-in spell-checkers that can help you catch errors before you send your message. Take advantage of this tool to catch any mistakes you may have missed.

  • Get a second opinion: If you're unsure about the accuracy of your message, consider having someone else read it before you send it. A fresh pair of eyes can often catch mistakes you may have overlooked.



Proper use of Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy

The CC (which stands for carbon copy, sometimes referred to as courtesy copy) and BCC (blind carbon copy) fields can be useful tools for managing email chains and communicating with multiple recipients in group emails. However, it's important to use them properly to protect privacy and avoid creating confusion.


Here are some tips for using the CC and BCC fields effectively:

  • Use CC for recipients who need to be informed: Use the CC field to include recipients who need to be informed about the message but are not directly responsible for taking action.

  • Use BCC to protect privacy: Use the BCC field to protect the privacy of recipients who do not need to know each other's contact information, or where they do not need to respond to the primary recipient.

  • Avoid unnecessary CCs and BCCs: Only include recipients in the CC and BCC fields if it is necessary for them to receive the message. Including too many recipients can create confusion and make it difficult to understand who was the original sender and how to manage the email chain effectively.

  • Take care not to send a copy to the wrong person. Check the email address carefully to make sure you are not sending it to someone else's email.



Writing in a professional tone that reflects the company's culture and values

It is important to use a tone that reflects the culture and values of the company. This means avoiding overly casual language, slang, and jargon that the recipient might not understand. A formal tone can help maintain a professional image and build trust with the recipient.


When writing emails for work, it is important to consider the tone and style of the company's communication. For example, a tech startup might have a more casual tone than a law firm, but it is still important to maintain professionalism and avoid anything that might be considered inappropriate.


Avoiding emotionally-charged emails that can damage professional relationships

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing emails is letting their emotions get in the way. When we are upset or frustrated, it can be tempting to fire off an email expressing our feelings, but this can be very damaging to professional relationships.


Before sending an email, taking a step back and assessing the situation is crucial. If you are feeling emotional, wait and cool off before responding. Alternatively, you can draft the email and save it as a draft, then return to it later to ensure that you communicate clearly and respectfully.


Choosing the right salutation based on the recipient and context

When writing emails, it is important to choose the right salutation based on the recipient and the context of the email.


If you are writing to someone you have a good working relationship with, a simple "Hi [Name]" might be appropriate.


Alternatively, if you are writing to someone more senior or in a formal setting, you might want to use a more formal greeting like "Dear [Title] [Last Name]".


It is also important to take into account the context of the email.


For example, if you are writing an email in response to a job posting, for example, you might want to use a more formal greeting like "Dear Hiring Manager" or "To Whom It May Concern". If you are writing to a colleague about a project you are working on together, a more informal greeting might be appropriate.


Ultimately, choosing the proper salutation comes down to knowing your audience and understanding the context of the email.


Using a professional email address that reflects the sender's name or the company's domain

When it comes to professional emails, using an appropriate email address can make a big difference. Here are some tips to ensure that your email address reflects your professionalism:

  • Choose an email address that is professional and appropriate for business communication.

  • Avoid using personal or informal email addresses that may not convey the right impression to your recipients.

  • Use an email address that reflects the sender's name or the company's domain, such as firstname.lastname@company.com.

  • Ensure the email address is easy to read and remember, and avoid using complex or obscure email addresses.

Sending large files and attachments via email can be a challenge, especially if the email server has limits on the size of attachments. Here are some tips to help you send large files and attachments without exceeding the email server's limits:

  • Check the email server's limits before sending attachments to ensure your file size is within the limit.

  • Compress large files to reduce the size before sending them. You can use software such as WinZip or 7-Zip to compress your files.

  • Use cloud storage services or file-sharing platforms for larger files. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive allow you to share files without worrying about attachment size limits.

  • Use a descriptive file name to help the recipient understand the attachment's contents. This will help them find and open the attachment more easily.

Forwarding emails correctly to avoid confusion and miscommunication

Forwarding emails to other recipients is a common practice in business communication, but it's important to do it correctly to avoid confusion or miscommunication. Here are some tips to help you forward emails correctly:

  • Include a clear and concise message when forwarding an email to explain why you're forwarding it and what you want the recipient to do.

  • Only forward emails that are relevant to the recipient. Don't clutter their inbox with unnecessary emails.

  • Remove any unnecessary information from the original email to make the message clearer and more focused.

  • Add a note or comment to provide context or additional information for the recipient. This will help them understand why you're forwarding the email and what they need to do next.

  • Check that all attachments and links in the forwarded email are still valid. If any links are broken, or attachments are missing, it can cause confusion or frustration for the recipient.

Considering the recipient's time and avoiding unnecessary emails

  • Respect the recipient or other person's time by writing concise and clear emails.

  • Avoid sending unnecessary emails or information that the recipient doesn't need.

  • Ensure that the email content is relevant and important to the recipient.

  • Use bullet points, short paragraphs, or headings to make the email easy to scan and understand.

  • Avoid sending emails outside of normal business hours unless it is urgent or necessary.


Protecting sensitive or private information

  • Be mindful of sensitive or private information and avoid sending it via email.

  • Use secure methods such as encryption, password protection, or file-sharing services.

  • Be cautious when sending confidential information, and double-check the recipient's email address. Ensure that the recipient has the proper authorization to receive the information.


Examples of email etiquette in different business scenarios

Sales and marketing:

  • Use a personalized subject line that catches the recipient's attention and highlights the product or service's benefits.

  • Keep the message concise, and focus on the recipient's needs.

  • Use a clear call to action to encourage the recipient to take the next step.



Customer service:

  • Begin with a friendly greeting that acknowledges the customer's issue or question.

  • Provide a clear and helpful response that addresses the customer's concerns.

  • Use a positive tone and express appreciation for the customer's business.



Internal communication:

  • Utilize a concise and straightforward subject line that accurately reflects the content of the message.

  • Keep the message concise and to the point, with relevant information and action items.

  • Use a professional and respectful tone and avoid emotional language.


Job application:

  • Use a subject line that clearly identifies the position and your name.

  • Address the recipient with a polite greeting and introduce yourself and your qualifications briefly.

  • Use a professional tone and avoid any slang or informal language.

  • Attach your resume and cover letter and close with a professional sign-off.


Meeting invitation:

  • Include a subject line that is both concise and clear. Include the meeting's date, time, and location. Provide a brief description of the meeting's purpose and agenda.

  • Include any necessary attachments or documents and a clear call to action to confirm attendance.