The Dos and Don’ts of Professional E-mails

By Alison Fortier

Bentley definitely prepares us well for the business world with all the GBs and even CDI, but we’re left to figure out other things on our own. For example: writing professionally for day-to-day business. Don’t worry if this part of business isn’t your favorite thing in the world because there are several aspects that, if you master, will put you on the right track.

  1. DO use full names and follow suit on name usage.

The first step in e-mail is to address the recipient by name.

Make sure that the first time you e-mail someone, you use that person’s first and last name. For example: Hello Mr. Jonathon Smith.

If, when you receive a response, Jonathon Smith signs his name as “Jon,” you may then follow suit and call him “Jon” in the future.

  1. DO begin with a professional tone and then mimic your recipient’s tone.

In your original e-mail, keep things formal and professional. Then, if your recipient keeps up the professionalism in his reply, you should too. However, if your recipient replies casually, you may do the same.

  1. DO proofread.

Proofread every e-mail you send so that no silly spelling mistakes are made. This is one of the best ways to make your writing look professional!

  1. DON’T use slang.

Similarly, avoid slang words (like bae, LOL, etc.) at all costs, even if your conversation has turned casual. Not only could your recipient misinterpret what you’re trying to say, he could be offended by a certain term.

  1. DO be brief.

Another important skill in e-mailing is to be brief and get right to the point. In business, everyone is busy all the time, and e-mails can pile up quickly. To keep your reader’s attention, use detailed, relevant subject lines and get to the point of your e-mail within the first two sentences. Prove to the reader that you respect her time.

  1. DON’T wait to respond.

It is important to respond to business e-mails within twenty-four hours. If you don’t receive a response from someone, it is appropriate to wait one business week before sending a follow-up e-mail.

With these quick and easy tips in mind, e-mailing can become so much less stressful and so much more professional. Learning to write in a professional e-mail format is an important skill, and future employers will appreciate it, so don’t let the idea of writing worry you!



About BentleyWritingCenter

This is the official blog of the Bentley University Writing Center staff.
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