E-mail ettiquette

E-mail Etiquette Builds Credibility, Enhances Communication

By Nicole Blomquist, Eric Schroeder, Tom Schumaker

E-mail is an ever-growing part of UW-Eau Claire and the entire business world. Every day, people across the globe find themselves checking, replying, or writing emails in various organizational settings. For most people in today’s business world, e-mail is both a necessary and valuable business tool that can enhance communication. Used improperly, however, it can cause communication to fail and result in negative perceptions.

UW-Eau Claire management instructor Robert Heintz receives countless emails every day that are not properly written. Many professors, including Heintz, believe this professional image could be improved if students and faculty follow simple email etiquette steps on a daily basis.

Email Etiquette

The following are etiquette guidelines for each section of an email:

  • Subject Line
    Writing a proper email begins with the subject line. Including a subject line in your email is necessary because you are introducing your audience to the topic of your email. Not having a subject line could result in the email being disregarded or considered junk mail.
  • Opening
    Use a direct approach in the introduction of the email message by stating the main point first. The audience generally will not get to the main point if unnecessary information is presented. Properly introduce yourself when writing to a professor. Include class, section, and time because they have many students.
  • Body
    The body of an email should remain short, generally around six to eight lines long. The recipient is more likely to read everything if the email is short and concise. Highlighted and bulleted lists are helpful because they are visually appealing and easy to read.
  • Closing
    Continue a direct approach when closing an email, and clearly state what the reader should do. Be courteous yet forward. An example of a good closing is, “Please email me by the end of the week to let me know if you are able to attend the meeting on March 20, 2008.” A signature block looks professional and gives the reader contact information they may need.
  • Tone and Style
    Never write in all caps in an email because it reads like shouting. Keep in mind to avoid using slang words, abbreviations, and acronyms when writing a professional email. Always spell check before sending an email.

Additionally, always be courteous and professional and reply to emails within 24 hours. Remember that all emails are permanent and can be sent from person to person. Lastly, know when e-mail is and is not appropriate. For example, discussing a grading issue with a professor should be done face-to-face.

Email etiquette is just as important on-campus as it is on the job. Heintz, who has previously worked for a number of Fortune 500 companies, says, “Practicing proper emailing techniques now will translate into a positive experience in the work force.”


Nicole Blomquist Eric Schroeder Tom Schumaker

Nicole Blomquist, left, is a junior marketing major from Apple Valley, MN; Eric Schroeder, middle, is a junior business administration major from Antigo, WI; Tom Schumaker, right, is a junior marketing major from Whitefish Bay, WI. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.

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