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Top Ten Worst Practices for Email: Part I

Hover on August 23, 2013

Emailing is a powerful and important tool for both business and personal communication.

Yes, the golden days of relying on carrier pigeons, snail mail and fax machines are long behind us! The majority of people have at least one or two emails that they send and receive messages from as part of their daily routine.

Sending off an email has become so fundamentally folded into the mundane that it’s easy for us to lose sight of its lustre as an important form of communication. Viewing email in such a casual light leaves us vulnerable to committing a major email faux pas.

Since we include our email addresses on resumes and hand them out in social situations, it’s worthwhile to think about the impact our emails have on the opinions of others. Every email we send is a reflection of our personal image!


Are you truly honing your email skills? Steer clear of these common email offenses:

1. You don’t have a custom email address

Are you still using an email that ends with or Even Gmail may not maintain its dominant image forever, although it’s viewed as less amateur-ish than the aforementioned accounts. Your email represents your online identity, so it makes sense to consider the message it’s sending about you. In today’s world of constantly evolving technology, relying on an outdated email provider can convey the image that you’re not interested in keeping up with the times (what’s this Internet thing you speak of?).

Your own customized email address is one that you won’t outgrow and is easy for others to remember. What’s more is that it allows you to come across as more professional! This is paramount if you are a freelancer or business owner, since having your own email is just as important for your identity as having a unique business card or letterhead. Your email also helps you to appear more professional when applying for jobs. Using an academic email ( or outdated email provider on a job application does not portray you as an individual who is serious about advancing your career with the drive to work towards it.

2. You have an unprofessional username

Perhaps the only thing worse than an email address or is one that has something inappropriate going on before the “@.” While your nickname may be a meaningful or funny joke to you, it’s difficult for others to take these email addresses seriously. Your username should be identifiable and respectful, not offensive or cutesy. Shared emails with another member of the family or significant other (jackandjill@) also come across as unprofessional.


3. You don’t proofread

Given the volume of messages we send and receive every day, our emailing practice often involves typing a quick response to send along right away. It’s tempting to click the “send” button without giving it much thought, but not taking the time to edit your email leaves room for all kinds of errors!

Spell-checkers cannot be relied on to catch all grammar and non-spelling blunders. Too often, emails are sent to the wrong recipients or with missing attachments, even when the whole point of the message was to include a file. Proofreading your emails is the best way to avoid misinformation and embarrassing mistakes, like unfinished sentenc…

4. You always “Reply-All”

The Reply-All button is useful, but should be used mindfully! It’s best to reply only to the people who need to receive your response to avoid over sharing. Oftentimes, it makes sense to just reply to the person who sent the email along to you. Take the time to double-check the addresses on the Cc or Bcc lines to confirm that your message is headed to the right people.


5. You don’t use the subject line

The subject line of your emails is a useful tool! It should simply and clearly reflect the contents of your message, so that the recipient can quickly identify it while sifting through his or her inbox. Try using the subject line in the same way a newspaper uses headlines.

For email threads that have been going on and evolving over time, it’s important to make sure that the subject line still reflects the message inside. Feel free to change the subject if an email chain when the subject line no longer matches the message.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments about the email offenses that make you cringe the most!