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Email Etiquette: Introduction

How to compose professional emails that get the job done and make you look good.

Introduction to Professional Email

Whether or not you think of yourself as a writer, all professionals have to communicate using tools like email. It makes sense, therefore, to reflect upon what makes some emails more effective than others, and what practices and strategies you can use to ensure your emails are read and acted upon.

This guide will cover some of the basic elements and strategies for communicating effectively online using email. Many of the same approaches can be applied to other forms of digital communication, such as texting and groupware such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and other applications. 

The benefits to clear communication for students and professionals go beyond simply passing classes and landing a job; for instance, communication skills are often key measures of performance assessments. Written texts often determine who gets credit for performing a task, and one's ability to produce or collaborate on them is often key in promotion decisions. Genres such as proposals directly lead to approval, funding, and support for new initiatives, so are linked in the workplace with high-value practices such as innovation.

In short, effective professional communication is much more than just saving yourself from having to play "email tag" as you re-explain something over several emails that could have been clear in your first email; it's about making sure you're equipped to succeed in a variety of professional contexts, and to be recognized fully for your professional contributions.