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Your guide to email etiquette

Emails at work come in at all of times of the day and greatly vary in importance. Your inbox will be full of miscellaneous subjects from organizing work socials to urgent financial crises. Arriving at your desk, logging into your email account and being greeted with 50+ unread emails in your inbox can at times be daunting, but soon you will learn to take them in your stride and manage them methodically. Once you’ve got the hang of finally getting round to replying to your emails, you will also have to learn how to get the content right! This can be tricky; there are many tips to a good email. Here’s The Intern Group’s Guide to Email Etiquette.

Speed – One characteristic that isn’t often written about, but is very much appreciated by anyone who has ever worked in an office is how fast you reply to emails. Emails are important; they are the main channel of communication between you and those who aren’t directly in your vicinity. When people email you, respond to them quickly! This will help them get their work done quickly and will keep the number of unread emails in your inbox at a manageable level. As you gain more experience in the working world you will realize that the people who are the most efficient will respond to you quickly. Follow suit.

Register – It is very important to get the register right when emailing. Don’t use the informal language and abbreviations of texts in work emails. This is a common mistake with interns once they’ve settled in and are becoming friends with their colleagues. Always be professional! Furthermore, make sure you proofread all of your emails before sending. A badly written email is a sign of poor attention to detail and can seem like you don’t care. Typos and simple grammar errors are to make so be careful!

Clarity – Your emails will often convey important information, so it is important to be clear. The recipient shouldn’t have to waste time trying to decipher your ten-line paragraph of unpunctuated block text. Information will be lost. To avoid this, a good idea is to number your points, especially if you are giving a list of commands or questions. This will help the recipient to tackle your email one point at a time, which will ensure that every task or query is covered. You should also write short, clear subject lines that briefly summarize the content or purpose of the email. This will also make it easier for people to search old emails.

Responding – Make sure you respond to every email you receive. When writing a general email that may not require a response feel free to write “No Reply Necessary” at the top of an email. More importantly, if you are busy and can’t read, digest and respond to an email right away, reply telling the sender that you have a lot on your plate and give a time when you will be able to reply. This helps your colleagues plan their day as they won’t be waiting around for your reply.

CCing – It is important to include all relevant parties on your emails. Firstly, it makes in-office communication much easier if everyone involved in what you’re dealing with can see the relevant email chains and also saves you having to later explain everything. CCing your manager can be a good idea if you are dealing with important matters. Not only does this show that you’re always on top of your work but also makes it easier for you to get help when you need it. Make sure you discuss this with your boss first though; you wouldn’t want to annoy him with hundreds of pointless emails.

These tips should come in handy when you start your internship, and you’ll become a pro in no time! Apply now to gain the chance to take part in our international internship program!


Photo 1. by Alejandro Escamilla, CC0

Photos and blog by John Monahan

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!