You should adhere to seven basic rules to use e-mail effectively:
- Always monitor the tone of e-mail messages – Ensure you use a tone that’s appropriate for the person you’re addressing and the purpose of a message. Write clearly and unambiguously to prevent accidentally implying a tone that’s inappropriate. In informal messages, you may use emoticons to convey mood.
- Avoid inappropriate formatting – Avoid using uppercase letters and underlining or bolding text. This is unprofessional and may be interpreted as aggressive.
- Use proper composition – Check that points flow clearly and logically, and those messages don’t contain basic errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Answer messages you receive within a reasonable time – Answer e-mail messages you receive promptly, within a maximum of about 24 hours.
- Answer all questions in e-mails you receive – Ensure you check what information has been requested and provide this in a single response. Also anticipate additional information that may be required and include this to help prevent the need for “back and forth” correspondence.
- Create a signature for your e-mails – Configure a signature for all your e-mail messages that includes your full name, position, and contact details, to make it easier for recipients to contact you.
- Proofread your e-mails – Check e-mails once you’ve written them and correct any errors, instead of sending them immediately.