12 Email Faux Pas That Makes You Look Unprofessional

As technology infiltrates every aspect of our lives, emailing has become the norm for much of our professional communication. Surprisingly, however, many of us make email mistakes that come off as very unprofessional that we aren’t even aware of.

Avoid these twelve email mistakes and your messages will come across much more professional.

Irrelevant subject lines

“Thought you’d be interested in this” is far less useful than “Friday meeting time.” As our inboxes get fuller, we rely more and more on subject lines to search for relevant messages. Make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for.

Not addressing someone correctly

If somebody signs an email to you with their first name, then, in that case, and only in that case, it may be appropriate to address them in a similar fashion. On the flip slide, if a person sends an email using their whole name, then you should do the same.

Spelling errors and bad grammar

Good heavens, there are a bazillion ways to spell-check your emails. Use one of them – there’s no excuse for sloppy spelling, if your email service doesn’t have a built-in spell-checker, then copy and paste important emails into a word processing program that does. The same goes for grammar. Get it right.

Unnecessary exclamation points and emoticons

Smilies are fine for communiqués from 12 year olds. They’re not professional. Eradicate them. Select one sentence with which to use exclamation points – because sprinkling them everywhere just looks like you’re not taking yourself seriously.

Irrelevant – or no – signature lines

A signature line is a critical email element, but it should only contain all the appropriate ways to reach you. Your inspirational quote is nothing but a nuisance to folks you email 10 times a day. A Thoreau quote does not make you look any more intelligent, we swear. Streamline your signature.

Hitting reply-all

Before you hit “Reply All”, ask yourself if every single person on the list really needs to see your response to the email. It may take a few seconds longer, but only reply to the relevant folks.

Consistently marking your messages urgent

Seriously, it’s not that serious.

Being too longwinded

Brevity is the soul of wit, lingerie and email. Get to your point, and be done with it.

Include marathon-length previous conversions

Include only what is necessary. Judicious (and ethical) copy and paste is your friend.

Altering previous conversations

Having said the above, don’t ever edit another person’s email to change or obscure their meaning. This is a cardinal sin. It’s despicable, and you’ll look like a slime ball if you’re caught.

Using a gushy closing

If you have an appropriate signature line – your name and contact information – then most emails can simply conclude with no closing at all. Things like “Very truly yours” or “Warmest regards” feel inauthentic and could irritate your recipients.

Attaching enormous files

If you’re emailing relevant photos or documents, be sure you’re not sending images that are life-size. Instead, resize images and refrain from attaching 14 documents when all your recipient need is just a copy of the cover letter. Be judicious when determining exactly what to attach.

As much as the average person spends on email – reading, replying, cataloging – we all appreciate the correspondents who take the time to get it right. Concise, professional emails demonstrate that you’re considerate, detail-oriented and efficient.



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