Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Three Tips for Writing Email in Today’s Casual Workplace

Oh, man. That’s disappointing for us.

A colleague asked my opinion about the above sentence in an email from a potential client, since she knows I teach business writing. She found the use of Oh, man very amusing.

My response was that Oh, man is very casual language that conveys the impression that the sentence was written by a young person. My son would often use that phrase as a teenager when he was upset.

How you write is part of your professional image. Your word choice conveys a lot about you. Though the business world is more informal today than ever, here are three overly casual things to avoid when writing emails, so you don’t undermine your professionalism:

Referring to people as you guys or folks.
These are laid-back expressions and should be avoided when writing or speaking in the business world. For example, never say: Is there any way you guys can help me out? (Simply say you.) Or, The folks from marketing were here this morning. (Use group, coworkers, or people instead of folks.)

Using Hey or Yo as a salutation.
The relaxed nature of our writings should not affect the salutation in an email. Hey is a very informal salutation (Hey, Colby) and generally should not be used in the workplace. And Yo is not okay, either. Use Hi or Hello instead.

Also, do not shorten someone’s name. Use the person’s full name (Hi, Michael) unless you know it is okay to call him Mike.

Overusing the exclamation point.
People sometimes get carried away and put a number of exclamation points at the end of their sentences. The result can appear too emotional or immature. Exclamation points should be used sparingly in writing. If you must use an exclamation point, use only one. I’ll never forget the email I received that said: The meeting is Monday. Everyone must attend!!!!!!!!!!

If you would like additional information about business-writing seminars, contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141.


  1. Anonymous10/08/2015

    I find it hard to believe that anyone cares if I use "Hey" or "folks" in my work email. Sometimes my intention is to be casual. I noticed this was written in 2012. Is this still the recommendation?

  2. Anonymous11/06/2016

    I think, that's the same situation now and nothing changed. We still use such things in email, but I would say, that has to be conversation between good friends. If you speak to your chief in email, I'm sure you won't say "Hey, guy". And if you need more examples to understand, ask to explain it.

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