Email etiquette: simple steps to stay professional

November 13, 2012

As someone who receives a high volume of emails daily from employers and students, I thought of myself as an expert.

However, once I started to write this, I realized that talking about email etiquette is more difficult than simply stating my own pet peeves.

That being said, here are a few standard email etiquette tips for you to follow. With these tips, and continued attention to detail, you can ensure you are communicating successfully and professionally in the workplace.


  1. Address the recipient of the email personally. A simple “Good morning (insert name)” is always appreciated, rather than starting off your message with your main point.
  2. Make sure you use punctuation and capital letters when needed. Although we often become accustomed to using “…” or rely too heavily on short forms and lower case, this signals a very casual tone and should not be used in professional communication.
  3. Be clear in the subject line. Just as you have busy days, so do colleagues, employers and clients. If your message isn’t urgent, then don’t indicate that it is.
  4. Ensure your up-to-date contact information is in your signature (including phone number and any social media links).
  5. Make sure you thank the recipient for their time in reading your email. “Have a great day” or “Best regards” are always appropriate to add at the end of a message.


  1. Use all capital letters. This is the equivalent of shouting at someone through email. Also, keep the bolding/underlining/highlighting to a minimum, otherwise the entire message will start to look busy and your reader may lose focus.
  2. Use emoticons/smiley faces. Although you might think this is cute, the CEO receiving the email most likely does not. Once you get to know your office environment and the people you work with, you can use your judgment on this, but it’s best to start off in a conservative manner.
  3. Reply using the “reply all” button unless you are absolutely sure you want all of the recipients to read your response. Nothing is more annoying than having an entire office replying to everyone for a simple “thank you for participating in our bake sale” message.

Pamela Galan is the Associate, Recruitment Programs (MBA), and is the “face of CPD” at the Ron Joyce Centre. She posts Co-op, summer and graduate recruitment jobs, answers general inquiries, schedules interviews and follows up with employers, and assists students with OSCARplus related issues.

DeGroote on Facebook DeGroote on Twitter WMA LinkedIn