Email Reply Etiquette: 13 Important Rules for Responding to Professional Emails


In the 21st century, email has become one of the most significant ways in which individuals, students, companies, and business owners communicate among themselves both professionally and personally. The use of email gained so much popularity with the aid of the internet so much that it is now used as a form of digital marketing. It is a fact that the email has now become more popular and effective than the telephone in reaching out to larger audiences, and there is a clear need to learn email reply etiquette.

Nowadays you see business organizations, schools, and colleges reach out to their clients and even potential customers with their emails rather than a phone number, intending to reach a large number of customers as possible. It is a known fact that a lot of people compose and reply to at least one email a day, and many individuals find themselves writing multiple emails daily.

Writing and responding to professional emails is not so hard, and it is not rocket science. All you need to do is to follow a few email reply etiquettes which I would discuss with you in this article. A well-crafted email can make a difference. It can give you a successful working relationship with your clients or customers. Doing otherwise could harm your relationship with them by creating confusion, or insult.

Before going into the guidelines about writing a professional email, I would quickly discuss what we mean by email etiquette.

What is email etiquette?

Email etiquette refers to the principles of behavior that an individual or company should use when writing or answering and sending email messages. It is also referred to as the code of conduct or guidelines a person must follow when replying to a professional email message. Email etiquette depends on whom we are addressing. It might be friends, family, colleagues, partners, customers, your boss, or your subordinates.

Email etiquette can be different depending on the nature of the email being sent. For example, the email etiquette you are expected to follow when sending emails to friends and family is likely different than the etiquette expected of you in the workplace. Knowing basic email etiquette can ensure that you are perceived as professional and have confidence when writing or responding to emails in various settings.

13 email reply etiquettes for writing professional emails

1. Ensure that your email address sounds professional

A professional email address is an important part of good email etiquette. When responding to an email within your organization, always use the email address provided to you by your company. Use your name as part of any business email address, for example, [email protected] or [email protected] Avoid using nicknames, monikers, aliases – you don’t want to use something like [email protected] or [email protected] because it seems off and unprofessional. When you use your name as part of your email address, it sounds more mature, original, and professional.

2. Ensure your tone is professional

When replying or sending professional emails, we often forget to check the tone before hitting the submit button and in turn sound very unprofessional. Using a professional tone is one of the etiquettes of a professional email. Sometimes it helps to put the email aside if you’re having difficulty with the tone especially when you receive an angry message or when you are feeling bad or angry which may affect the tone of your message. You can also read your email aloud and see how it sounds. The type of relationship you have with the person and the purpose of your email will dictate the formality or informality of your email. When emailing classmates or colleagues your tone would be much more informal than with a business partner or the manager of a company or clients.

3.Include a clear and concise subject line

The subject line goes a long way in determining whether an email gets opened or not and how the recipient responds. Sending an email with a blank subject line will likely get deleted, or overlooked, it also puts the recipient through a lot of stress trying to figure out your mail and it can get annoying. Therefore when writing a professional email, make sure that your email subject line is clear and easily understood. A clear subject help conveys to the recipient what your email is about as well as ensures that your email gets opened by the recipient.

4. Check your grammar or spelling mistakes

This is a very important email reply etiquette when replying to an email. Always double check your spellings, grammar, and punctuation to avoid making mistakes. Writing an error-free email would make you look more professional and organized. There are different tools you can use when writing an email, you can either copy and paste to your Microsoft word to correct or you can make use of Grammarly which is free both on the computer and mobile devices.

5.Make sure you use the right salutation

Salutations can vary depending on the recipient. Many business professionals have argued that using a formal greeting in an email remains the best, although sometimes it depends on whom you are writing to or sending an email to. To a colleague who you are familiar with, you can use both formal and informal salutations like ‘Hi there', ‘Hey', or simply ‘Hi'. When addressing the head of a company, university, or a client, you should address them formally even if you are familiar with them.For example, you can use ‘dear sir', ‘dear ma' etc.

6. Respond to professional emails as soon as possible

If you receive tons of emails daily, replying to all of them could prove difficult but you have to reply to them, and not only reply to them, but also reply on time – that is considered good email reply etiquette. Responding to email on time shows a lot of commitment and diligence on your part and would build your trust with your clients. Sometimes the email message requires more time for you to respond, you can send the recipient a message acknowledging that you have indeed received the message and would take time for you to respond probably within 24 hours or within 5 working days. This would put the recipient's mind at rest and know that you have them in mind. Another thing you can do is to prioritize your emails as they come in so that you can determine which emails require the fastest responses.

7. Ensure your recipient's name is spelled correctly

Spelling your recipients' names wrongly is bad email reply etiquette. Always double-check the recipient's name and make sure it is spelled correctly and don't use abbreviations or nicknames, make sure their names are spelled in full before sending an email. Another thing you can do is to go to their LinkedIn pages and compare their names to the one you have on your headings to make sure everything rhymes with what you have. Misspelling one's name can make your communication look offensive and insulted and this might not give you the right response you were hoping for from the recipient.

8. Always use standard fonts that are easy to read

Try to use the standard font when typing your email, you don’t want to hurt the eyes of your recipients by using horrible fonts. I always recommend times new roman, calibre, and arial, 1.5 or double line spacing, and a font of 12. This ensures that the size and lettering of your email are easy to read and scan by most recipients.

9. Avoid using emoji's or other animations in your email

Adding emoji's or other animations such as smiley faces, lol, lwkmd, etc. in a professional email would sound off and give the wrong impression to the recipient.

10. Always write in full

Avoid abbreviations in professional emails, as this may give the recipient the wrong impression of you been lazy and not taking the email seriously. Using abbreviations like Federal government ( FG), Account (Acct), etc might not relate well with the recipient, you don't want your recipients to start bringing out their dictionary or typing into google to understand the content of your email.

11. Include only necessary attachment

When writing a professional email, always indicate somewhere in your email that you’ve included an attachment so your recipient doesn’t overlook it. Make sure it is necessary before you include an attachment in your email, ensure that it is necessary for the particular email you are sending. For example, you can be asked to send your credentials when applying for admission at a college. Instead of stuffing the whole email with your credentials which might be much, you can create a PDF file for your credentials and send as a whole. That way it looks more organized and easy to understand.

12. Check to make sure you are sending your email to the correct recipient

Working under pressure or against a deadline can lead to you making mistakes like sending an email to the wrong person or to another person with the same name as the company. Sending an email to the wrong recipient might have a great consequence for your business or organization because you would believe or assume that you have sent that email and might have moved on to other things while the customer is still expecting your email that has been addressed to the wrong person. It can be easy to click on a saved email address only to realize after it is sent that it was the wrong email recipient. Be sure to double-check that you have the correct recipient's email address before hitting the send button to maintain good email reply etiquette.

13. Proofread your email before sending

Before you send that email to that organization, to that school, did you proofread it, are you sure there are no errors, no punctuation error, no misspelled sentences. Proofreading matters a great deal when writing a professional email or any other piece of writing. There are tools that can aid you like Grammarly which scans your text for common grammatical errors like misused commas and complex ones like misplaced modifiers. Another tool to use is Microsoft Word.

You can copy and paste to Microsoft Word, which would point out the incorrect sentences and misplaced commas, etc. You can also give to another person to read for you, preferably someone with a good command or understanding of the English language. Make sure you proofread the email at least once or twice to make sure it is error-free and include all necessary information. As part of a good email reply etiquette, proofreading your emails can prevent both spelling and grammar errors.

It would be easy to respond to emails professionally if you follow the 13 email reply etiquette listed above.

Opeyemi Olagoke
Opeyemi Olagoke
Olagoke Opeyemi Dare is a writer, digital marketer, and researcher with over 2 years of experience as a researcher. He is currently an intern at Spark Connect where he focuses on the fundamentals of digital marketing, social media marketing, and copywriting. He has written different articles and papers for various blogs and academic research projects respectively.

Also Read:

Want superior results, better communication?

Search Woculus

Related Posts

Want superior results, better communication?

Free eBook: All The Tools You Need to Write Emails Like a Professional

Download and start writing emails like a professional.


Your eBook is on the way! Please check your email in 5 minutes.