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5 Email Mistakes That Are Making You Look Unprofessional


These days, we spend a lot more time communicating with people online than we do in person, or even over the phone. Everyone is forced to become a writer if they want to get their points across, even if their job seems unrelated to the world of words. Here are some common mistakes that just about everyone makes when emailing at work.

working on computer

(Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo)

1. Typos.

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We’ll be honest with you: you could read every email five times, and eventually, you’ll have to send something out when you’re under the gun and under-caffeinated, and a mistake will slip through. When it’s important, have a colleague read over your email before you send it. Otherwise, make sure you give everything that all-important second read.

2. Text Speak.

We don’t care how much you love your co-workers: they are not your pals. At least not when it comes to putting down your thoughts in words. Remember, anything you send to a colleague can be forwarded to someone else — and that someone might not understand the context of your emoji-filled message.

3. Unnecessary punctuation.

Specifically, you want to watch out for exclamation points — both using too many of them, and not using any at all. This is different from the advice you usually get, which is to use none. But in our experience, a totally exclamation point-free email can come across as surly. Balance is the key.

“There is literally nothing worse than losing professional credibility when you’re just trying to be nice. Certain professionals will see you as emotional or excitable and somewhat frivolous. Boo. While a flat-tone in email can come off as stern or even angry, it is certainly the safe bet,” writes Lisa Marie Basile at The Grindstone. “Consider selecting one sentence with which to use exclamation points — because sprinkling them everywhere just looks like you’re not taking yourself seriously.”

4. A million forwards.

Don’t make your readers decipher the flow of conversation. If you must include the whole chain, summarize it at the top, so that people will know what they’re looking for.

5. Anything busy or cutesy.

Perhaps thanks to the animated GIF fad, everything old is new again on the Internet. Don’t use this as your excuse to put a flowery wallpaper in the background of all your emails or make your signature blink on and off. People should remember your message, not the method in which you conveyed it.

Tell Us What You Think

Which email mistakes make you cringe the most? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Ken HeidemanMoemen AbdElkaderAmy Logan Recent comment authors
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Moemen AbdElkader
Moemen AbdElkader

Thanks for the tips, but I guess you forgot one of the important things; Which is forgetting the attachments. I always do something that works perfectly. I’m adding the attachments before writing the email. Trust me it works 😉

Amy Logan
Amy Logan

When sending an email to a large group (employees in a region, country or area rather than a small team), remember to put the names in the BCC line and simply let your audience know to whom you are sending the email by stating it in the opening (ex: To all Gulf Coast employees). This will prevent people from being able to “reply to all” and inundate everyone on the distribution list with response after response. Email inboxes are cluttered… Read more »

Ken Heideman
Ken Heideman

Good email tips, but this article fails to mention the most important tip of all:   emails are for factual information….NEVER to convey emotional content (e.g., anger).  When used improperly email is a weapon that can start wars.

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