Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Email Rules: 8 Tips So You Don’t Drive Your Readers to Distraction!

It drives me crazy when I email information to people – information that they requested – and they don’t acknowledge that they received the email, let alone thank me!

Have you ever felt a similar sentiment? Many have.

I believe strongly that people in the workplace should let you know they have received information you have sent them, and, if they requested that information, good manners requires that they thank you. 

One of my students followed my advice and sent an email to her professor, thanking him for his email answering several of her questions about an upcoming project. The professor was so pleased that the student had thanked him that he gave her two additional points on her project. No student had ever thanked him before. 
It is rude when people don’t acknowledge your time or effort to help them. Replying with a simple “Thanks” is all that is needed. You can, of course, write more, such as: “Thank you for the information. It will be helpful.”

Here are 7 additional suggestions so you don’t drive others crazy with your emails:

1. Remember that you are writing an email, not a text. Do not use text shortcuts. All too often, people forget and write “u” for “you” and “GR8” instead of “great,” and so on. Email is informal communication, but not that informal.  Also avoid text acronyms, such as BAU for “business as usual,” as in, I had a slow morning, but this afternoon it was BAU. It is also rare for emoticons or emoji to be appropriate for business email.

2. Use a descriptive subject line. Make the subject line informative and inviting. Often, people will not open an email unless the subject line indicates it’s something worth reading. Target the reader. Good lines may be something like “Question about your service,” “Suggestion for the meeting,” or “Good news about the project.” Think about what subject lines have caught your attention. You can often model yours after them.

3. Pay attention. You need to concentrate. If you don’t, you can easily send an email before you have finished editing your comments, or send the email to the wrong people. One senior manager wrote to me: “Feel free to use me as an example of why you never want to multi-task when it comes to emails.” She was interviewing a candidate for a leadership position and emailed a question to HR – or so she thought. It went to me instead!

Some email errors can have more serious implications. Consider what happened at the New York Times a few years ago, as the Associated Press reported:

The New York Times thought it was sending an email to a few hundred people who had recently canceled subscriptions, offering them a 50 percent discount for 16 weeks to lure them back. Instead, Wednesday's offer went to 8.6 million email addresses of people who had given them to the Times.

4. Include a signature block, providing your reader with some information about you. Generally, this would state your full name, title, the company name, and your contact information, including a phone number. People have said to me: Why is he making me search for his number? I hate that!  You also can add a little publicity for yourself, but don’t go overboard with any sayings or artwork. Use the same font, type size, and color as the rest of the email. One engineer wanted her name to stand out, so she used 24 point, bright blue type. The rest of the email was 12 point black type. Her name stood out, but not in a good way.  

5. Don’t overuse “reply all.” Too often, this only contributes to email overload. People don’t want to receive emails that they don’t need to see.  It wastes their time. Use “reply all” only when it is necessary for everyone on the list to see the email. 

6. Don’t send an email when you are angry. In angry mode, you are likely to write unkind or nasty comments. Before you hit the send button, consider what the consequences of your words might be. Put the email aside until you calm down. Then re-read what you have written, and decide whether you really want to send those comments.

7. Tell the sender if you received an email in error. Unless you do, the person who sent the email will believe it was delivered to the correct person. A simple reply to the writer is all that is needed, such as: I don’t think you intended to send this to me. Just wanted to let you know.   

Additional information on email can be found in my book The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success. 

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business writing, presentation skills, professional presence, etiquette and communication. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141. 


  1. These are really some great tips. I am going to thank all my useful and informative email senders for their valuable emails to me. Thanks for pointing out.

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