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8 Tips to Be More Professional in Your Emails

Writing emails in the academic and business worlds is a necessary skill. We email professors, our supervisor(s), colleagues, and customers on a regular basis.  According  to a 2014 survey published by Gallup, 37% of surveyors reported that they sent or read emails a lot during the day, while 33% said they did a little, and only 29% said they did not at all. In other words, the majority of these survey participants use their emails regularly on a given day.

Text-based communication is one of the most popular forms used. Emails are sent to submit papers in college, correspond in the workplace, apply to prospective jobs, and the like. No matter what content is being relayed in an email, it is paramount that your emails be professional and concise. Regardless of who you are emailing, your message is on record. Once you submit an email, it’s out there in cyberspace, greeting the inbox of your recipient. With such a final form of communication, you want every email you send to be as professional as possible.

Here are eight tips from GenTwenty to sound professional in your email correspondences:

1. Include a direct and descriptive subject line.

When filling out the subject line of the email, try to be as clear and direct as possible without being too wordy. For example, if you’re writing an email to your supervisor regarding an upcoming meeting your subject line could read, “Meeting with Mr. X – Monday February 1st”. This indicates what the email is about, who is involved, and when the meeting is taking place. This information gives the recipient a clear and concise indication of what your email contains. 

2. Use proper titles out of respect.

 Unless you’re emailing a relative, friend, or close colleague, be sure to use titles in your emails. Call your recipient Mr., Mrs., Ms., Professor., Dr., Dean., etc. as you see fit. Remember, unless the recipient of the email is someone close to you, it is always best to stick to professional titles to remain polished and businesslike.

3. Use professional salutations.

When it comes to emailing, words and terms like “Hey”, “Yo”, “What’s up?”, etc. should never be used. Instead, try using words or terms like “Good morning”, “Dear”, “Hello”, etc. to sound more businesslike. These words and terms are far more appropriate in an academic or business setting and will likely capture your respect through text communications. 

4. Avoid including media.

These days it seems like our phones are programmed with GIFs, memes, and emojis. We can email from our phones and insert a smiley face at will. While this behavior is appropriate if you’re emailing a relative, avoid this behavior for academic or business emails. If you want to seem professional through text-based communications, ditch the emojis when emailing others.

5. Keep your emails brief and concise.

Your emails should be direct and to the point, without being overly wordy. Remember, an email isn’t meant to take the place of face-to-face communication. It’s also not a forum for you to summarize the contents of a paper or any attachment you’re including in the email. Be brief, be direct, and keep the verbiage as simple and professional as possible.

Related: Why Your Emails Aren’t Getting the Response You Want

6. Use synonyms.

Don’t get too crafty with the words you use, but try to substitute casual and all too common words with their more professional counterparts. For example, rather than write “you said”, perhaps write “as we discussed”; instead of saying “our talk today was great”, try writing “our meeting earlier today was an excellent opportunity for us to catch up”. Try to fluff up your verbiage without going over the top.

7. Spellcheck the body text.

Before you send an email, make sure you thoroughly read and review the text in the body of the email. You don’t want to accidentally misspell words or someone’s name. This is a common mistake that can easily be avoided, so do your best to take an extra minute or so to edit your email before you send it.

8. Customize your email signature.

 A fantastic way to be professional via email is to use an automatic signature. In the settings section of your email you can update your signature by adding your name, title, address (of business if it’s a work email), phone number, and such. This not only saves you time so that you don’t have to conclude each email manually, but it also looks extremely professional.

Emails are a very common form of communication. Be sure you are using your emails in the most professional ways possible. Try these to tips to capture your businesslike persona through email.

How do you remain professional through emails? Share your tips in the comments below!

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About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.