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How to Remain Classy and Professional in an E-mail

Subject: E-mail Etiquette

Dear twenty-somethings,

Writing an e-mail is harder than it looks.  You can make yourself look unprofessional in a heartbeat if you don’t know the rules of e-mail etiquette.  Whether you’re sending an e-mail to your boss, a friend, teacher or a hiring manager, staying professional is key. Especially in something as brief and impersonal as electronic communication.  Like anything else in life, being aware of how you’re presenting yourself is highly important. The people you are sending e-mails to most likely receive many e-mails every day making it even more important to be professional.

There are plenty of ways to convey your professionalism while still being able to show your personality.  If you’re not sure about something you’ve typed out, have a friend or trusted source look it over before sending it.  As far as we know, you can’t unsend an e-mail, so think things over before you potentially ruin your reputation with your boss, coworkers or hiring manager. The occasional embarrassment happens – even over the Internet!

On that note, always make sure you proofread before pressing send!

Yours truly,
An every-day twenty-something

How to Stay Classy and Professional in an E-mail:

Use appropriate language and punctuation.

Don’t TyPE LYke DiS.  In the words of The O.C.’s Summer Roberts, ew!  How ugly does that look?  No one appreciates that type of text in an e-mail, text message or really in any communication. It’s probably best to leave this way of communicating with your middle-school self – you’re “cool” in different ways now.  Keep your subject line and text concise and to the point.

Err on the side of formal.

Leave your “LOL-ing” in the chat rooms.  Even if you have seen or heard of people doing this, just don’t. Shorthand type, btw, is generally only acceptable when both parties involved deem it to be. We doubt that a hiring manager or your teacher is interested in when you find something laughable – there are other ways to show your humor or excitement about something.  Just not this.

Think about how your tone might come across.

DON’T SEND AN E-MAIL IN ALL CAPS. Even if you’re angry about something, don’t attempt this.

It shows the person on the other end of your e-mail one of two things: 1. You’re not watching your caps lock button and pay little attention to detail or 2. You don’t care about expressing what you think of someone else or a certain situation (or conversely, you care too much).  

Someone could take this the wrong way, so try to avoid using all caps.  Unless you’re extremely frustrated with your college’s financial aid department.  Every twenty-something in America has been there.  It’s OK – we won’t judge you.

Email can be confusing sometimes, especially to those of us who often try to read between the lines to pick up on tone and the emotions behind the words. However, the best emails are succinct, to the point, and polite. 

About the Author

Gina Kirby

Gina is a Co-founder of GenTwenty. She graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a B.A. in Communications. She currently works at IKEA as a Social Media Specialist.

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