Email Like a Professional

According to a study by the International Data Corporation (IDC), workers spend 28 percent of their workweek reading and answering email, which adds up to at least 11 hours of your valuable time. Despite the excessive hours professionals spend glued to their phones and computers, many still do not employ proper email etiquette. Save yourself time, and embarrassment, by following the email tips below:

Make a habit of always responding

It is important to give a polite and timely response to each email directed to you, even if you think a response is not necessary. A good policy to follow is a 24 hour rule, meaning you should make a habit of replying to an email within 24 hours of receiving it. If you are going to be away from your phone or computer for more than 24 hours, leave an away message with an alternative contact in case of emergencies.

Don’t start unnecessary new chains (with a caveat)

When to respond on an email chain versus when to start a new email is a question professionals often ask themselves. A good rule of thumb? If your message directly relates to the subject line it’s okay to respond on the chain. If your message has nothing to do with the subject line, it is best to start a new email with a relevant subject line. Trust us, this will save you time and confusion when going back to find an old email.

Enter email addresses last

Spare yourself the embarrassment of sending an unfinished email by adding the recipients’ email addresses after you have finished typing out your message and it’s ready to send.


It’s happened to all of us. We get an email and our name is spelled wrong. It immediately sets the tone that you don’t matter enough to the sender to get the spelling right. This is why it is so critical to proofread emails once, even twice (or aloud to yourself), before sending them out—especially to a client. You want your clients to know they matter and you are an expert. Typos in emails certainly do not convey your professionalism or knowledge of the client.

Include a signature

Tell your reader who you are. Include things like your full name, job title, email and phone number. This especially comes in handy when you are emailing a person for the first time who may not know who you are or have your contact information.

Subject line

Subject lines should be simple, to the point and synonymous with the topic of your email. Often times, people open emails based on their subject lines, so if you’re email is urgent, it’s not a bad idea to say so in the subject line. Examples of good subject lines include: “Today’s meeting canceled,” “Edits to the proposal” or “Urgent: edits needed ASAP.”

Using to and and ‘cc

We have a saying here at Vanguard: “CC is your friend.” What we mean by this is don’t be afraid to include your coworkers on an email. This practice is useful when you want a coworker to see you sent a proposal to the client or you would like them to jump in on the conversation. While CC is a great tool and we use it all the time, it’s important to distinguish who to copy and who to send the email to. If the email does not need a direct response from someone, it’s probably okay to copy them.

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