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How To Email Like An Adult

Are you the type of person who emails their colleagues at all hours of the night via your smartphone, typos in tow? Or are you more inclined to write a formal introduction, body and conclusion for each and every email you hit “send” to? Wherever you lie on the email etiquette scale, read on for some basic guidelines that will help you manage your inbox and prevent any awkward misunderstandings (there’s nothing like the sinking feeling when you realise you’ve accidentally hit #replyall).

1. Know Your Audience

Who are you sending this email to? What do they expect from you and what are you expecting from them? To get you started on the right foot, ensure the language you use in your email is appropriate for the person who will be receiving it – write in a manner they are accustomed to! If they are polite and formal, respond in a similar fashion. If they tend to be more informal and relaxed, tone it back, whilst still maintaining #respect.

2. Subject Matter(s)

It’s important you are clear and specific in your subject line. Many (if not most) of us are drowning in a sea of emails, and we need you to get to the point ASAP. Having a detailed subject line will help the receiver sort out what can and can’t wait until after their second coffee break. For instance, if you’re needing someone to approve the content within the email, it will be helpful to start your subject line with ‘For Approval: Dog Blog’. This works better than just ‘Blog’, or worse – no subject line at all.

3. By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.

Who doesn’t love a good The Devil Wears Prada quote? Miranda Priestly’s wise words apply to a lot of things, including your emails! No one, and I really mean no one, wants to be digging through your email trying to find the golden nugget of information that was the reason why you sent the thing in the first place. Ensure you get to the point as quick as possible, and avoid lengthy paragraphs when you could have summed the entire email up in one or two sentences. Or better yet, made a quick phone call and avoided the email altogether!

4. Privacy, Please

If there’s one thing we can learn from Hillary Clinton’s #emailgate it’s that nothing is ever really private when it comes to the Internet. Prevent the worst from happening by not revealing or discussing sensitive information via email.


Everyone has a different sense of humour. Whilst you may be laughing your head off, others may not interpret your “joke” in the same way! Be wary of using sarcasm, as tone can be misconstrued. As every mother ever says – it’s better safe than sorry. And please, no email forwards!

6. The dreaded Reply All

If unnecessary: Do. Not. Send. Only hit “reply all” if you think each person on the chain actually needs to read the email you’re about to send. On behalf of everyone stuck in an annoying, never-ending email chain – we thank you for your restraint.

7. How urgent is urgent?

Only flag an email as urgent if it truly is urgent. Overusing the high priority tool will (eventually) make even your nicest colleague’s eyes roll. And if everything from you is flagged urgent, then nothing is urgent! Free lunch is high priority, though. Always.

8. Let’s be social

Including a signature is key in helping those who have no idea who you are and those who want to contact you. Ensure you include the essentials: name, title, company, and contact information. Don’t forget socials – including links to your profiles can also make a huge difference in helping people find out what you’re about.


Names, places, times – check and triple check. Spelling and grammar can inform someone’s opinion of you and your business. Read and re-read your email through, as whilst your work wife might forgive you for calling her Elle instead of Ellen, others might not be so understanding.