March 2015

Think before you press send!

Email imageEmails have taken over communications – many of us hardly talk on the phone to each other, the letter is almost non-existent and anyone under the age of 20 probably doesn’t even remember the good old fashioned memo!

Although we send and receive emails everyday to friends, colleagues, other organisations and customers, we all have some bad habits.

There are certain professional standards expected for work emails, so please take the time to read on.


Is email the best way to send this information?

  • Don't use email as an excuse to avoid personal contact or if you are sending confusing or emotional messages, it is always better to speak to the person. Remember your tone can't be heard in an email!
  • And finally, do not get personal. It is not appropriate to give your personal opinion on council matters or decisions to a third party. Doing so could put the council or yourself in a difficult position in the future.

So, what style is appropriate?

  • Make sure your email includes a courteous greeting and closing, this helps to make your email not seem demanding or terse.
  • Address your contact with the appropriate level of formality and make sure you spell their name correctly.
  • Use the spell check! Emails with typos are not taken as seriously.
  • Read your email out loud to ensure the tone is correct. A few additions of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way!
  • Be sure you are including all relevant details or information necessary to understand your request or point of view, generalities can cause confusion.
  • Keep your email brief and to the point with one subject per message where possible. Save long conversations for the old fashioned telephone.
  • Use sentence case. CAPITAL LETTERS LOOK AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING and all lowercase looks lazy. Do not use a lot of colours or graphics in your message, not everyone uses an email program that can display them and don’t use emoticons on work emails.
  • Be informal, not sloppy. Your emails reflect on you and the council, so spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply. Multiple instances of !!! or ??? are perceived as rude or condescending.
  • Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose.
  • Try not to make assumptions when it comes to email. Always ask for clarification before you react.
  • Even though it isn't right; emails are forwarded to others. Keep this in mind when typing about emotional or controversial topics.

Who do you send it to?

  • Remember emails are not private. Work emails are considered council property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law or as part of a Freedom of Information request. Also, emails can easily be forwarded as well as inadvertently sent to the wrong person!
  • Don't forward chain letters, virus warnings, or junk mail.
  • Use blind copy and courtesy copy appropriately. Copy only people who are directly involved.
  • Be sparing with group email. Use only when it's useful to every recipient.
  • Refrain from using the Reply to All feature to give your opinion to those who may not be interested. In most cases replying to the sender alone is your best course of action.

And finally…

Take the time to re-read your email before you press send!


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