Rules for Email at Work

Written by on June 16, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page

Rules for Email at Work

Work emails should be formal, like a letter.

Most people believe that email is a very casual form of communication, somewhere between a text message and a letter. This, however, is not always true. Emails to friends and family can be casual but, work related emails should be more formal.


When you’re writing a work email, don’t use text message abbreviations. Doing this gives the impression that you’re not taking your work seriously. If you’re a younger worker, it also makes you look immature to older colleagues. Regardless of your age, it is unprofessional and should not be done.

No Smileys

Emoticons are another form of text message slang that don’t belong at work. Your writing should be clear enough to convey your meaning without the use of a smiley face.  If the reader can’t tell t your tone is without an emoticon, you need to revise your email.

Spelling Counts

When you’re writing, make sure to use spell check. It is a very valuable tool. Misspelled words make you look uneducated. So, use spell check to ensure that everything is spelled properly.

Grammar Counts Too

While spell check can find misspelled words, only the proper use of grammar will be able to tell you if those correctly spelled words are the correct words to use. So, check to see if you made the right choice between words like your/you’re, its/it’s and there/they’re/their.

Also, make sure to write in complete sentences. I know I dislike getting emails that seem to be one step away from written in code. Others do too. So, use complete sentences to get your point across. The other person is probably getting several other emails a day, from different people, about multiple topics. Don’t make them guess what you’re talking about by writing in short, unclear fragments.


No one likes a long, wordy email. Say what you need to say, say it well, and then wrap it up. In most cases, an email should not take the place of a conversation. So, keep your emails short and to the point.

It may not seem like much but, little things like this can make a big difference in how other people perceive you. Well written emails show that you are detail orientated, literate, and care about your job. All of these things will be in your favor once it’s time for a promotion.

How do you think work emails should be written?


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About the Author

Jen Small

Jen is a writer who is originally from South Florida. A former recruiter for a Fortune 500 company, she has also worked in several different industries - real estate, insurance, construction, and education. Jen has now taken this experience to help others as a resume writer and designer. She currently lives and works in South Korea. View all posts with career advice.