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Common Email Faux-Pas To Avoid At All Costs

Every email you send, just like every conversation you have, adds to or detracts from your reputation and changes people’s opinions of you. If your email is full of mistakes, contradictions or is disorganised, the recipient will assume that you are too.

So whether you’re communicating with your friends, boss, a client, or your coworkers, it’s important that you conduct yourself well. Here are our email etiquette no no's to encourage better practice.

Don't Leave Someone Hanging

For a lot of correspondences, all you need to respond to an email are a few words. Send a letter or two to confirm that you received someone’s email. Even better, give them an idea of when you’ll get back to them. But, at the very least, leaving someone lingering is something you shouldn’t do with email.

Leave Out The Emotion

Words can be dangerous, especially those that are written in the heat of the moment. An angry email could be the last one you ever write before someone severs that relationship. Think of it this way: How would my email look if it were posted publicly online? If you would be ashamed, then press back space and start typing again.

Use Exclamation Points Sparingly

Exclamation points should be used sparingly, this goes for any form of outreach. If you want to spice up your content, consider making the communication itself—the words—exciting or authoritative, instead of adding a mark to emphasise excitement or anger.

Don’t Use Emojis

Those little winking, smiling icons are for text messages. They can make you seem immature, plus come across inappropriate and unprofessional in most email scenarios. Emoticons may also divert emails to a spam filter or junk mailbox.

Use a Proper Salutation

Remember “Hi” and “Hey” communicate a lack of professionalism and maturity. Begin your email with phrases such as “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” “Good Evening,” “Hello,” or "Dear." “Good Day” or “Greetings” are other phrases used frequently in the international arena.

CC, BCC Or Reply All

You may recall the incident in 2016 where an NHS employee decided to send an email to approximately 840,000 of their colleagues. This was only the start of the chaos, as some recipients then decided to hit the ghastly “reply all” button.

There are multiple problems with this, but the main one is relevance of information. Next time you plan on hitting “reply all”, make sure that “all” need to hear what you have to say, or just reply to the admin, excluding everyone else in the chain, why make others delete your email? Reply-to-All is a function for ongoing deliberations on a particular subject only.

If you need to send the same email to many people and those people don’t need to respond to the other recipients, then use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) option. This makes sure that your email address (and everyone else’s) is not exposed to 50 other people. It also prevents the dreaded Reply All debacle from happening.


This may seem simple and obvious, but as we have all experienced, you receive an email from someone and are planning to call them back, or are looking for further information about them and there is nothing to be found. This is dangerous territory, because if they can’t find your contact details easily, they may give up trying to contact you, or respond negatively after wasting their time sourcing your contact details.

Sending 4am Emails

If you wake up early and you're feeling productive, think before you press send. So if inspiration strikes you at odd hours of the night, write the email, saving it in your drafts folder, and send it during working hours. Even in this 24/7 world, most people look at the time stamp and hold it against you if it shows some crazy hour in the morning. At best, they think you're a workaholic who doesn't have a life. At worst, they think you're obsessive.

Multiple Typos

If the email is important enough to send out while you're on the run, it's important enough to look over before you send it out, therefore, "Sent from my iPhone," is no excuse for sloppy emails. One typo here and there is becoming more acceptable because everyone is sending emails on the go from their phones, however more than one per email is unprofessional.

Unprofessional Fonts

Keep correspondence classic. The cardinal rule: Your emails should be easy for other people to read. Generally, an easy-to-read black font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman," and the go to fonts

Don’t Ramble

Never ‘bury the lead,” get right to the point when emailing for business or a specific aim. In other words, put the most important information at the top of the email, as most people spend seconds — not minutes or hours — reading an email, and a lot of people only skim them.

Large blocks of dense text are hard to read, so it's better to break emails into short paragraphs. Bullet points or numbered lists are even easier to digest. To avoid rambling, write a draft of your email and then edit it - you can usually say the same thing, just in less words.

Over-Sending Marketing Emails

You need to find the sweet spot when it comes to email frequency. People receive a ton of emails every day, and will often go on an unsubscribing spree because of it. As for how often you should be sending emails, aim for one or two a week, tops. It’s enough to keep the connection strong without coming off as too pushy.

Professionals Using Free Email Services

Yes, free email services like Gmail are extremely useful and very easy to use, but they can also portray your company as being cheap and unprofessional. You don’t want that to happen. If you have a small business or are a “one women/man show,” using Gmail can feel like the way to go. But it can also reinforce to your clients that you are small and lack resources. Most email hosting providers can set these up for you in a few minutes and it's quite inexpensive.

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