What you do frequently, you should actually be able to do well. One would like to think, but who above all also receives many e-mails, knows: What seems so simple, nevertheless holds some potential danger. The following five points should therefore be taken into account when writing professional e-mails.
Typography in the e-mail
Consistency is a particularly important basic rule – not only when writing e-mails! Therefore, pay attention to a uniform appearance and never use different fonts in the body text.
Bold print and italics are allowed. But already underlining is an absolute no-go. Too great is the risk of confusion with links. The fact that you should not change the font color in an e-mail hopefully hardly needs to be mentioned these days.
Pay attention to the fonts, especially if you copy text from another application into your e-mail. Even if your composed e-mail looks normal to you, it is still possible that unattractive differences become visible to the recipient.
Tip: Most e-mail programs have a button that removes any formatting. In Googlemail, you can recognize this function by the button with the crossed-out "T" (top right).
The e-mail signature
The signature is still an important standard element in every e-mail. Nevertheless you should keep them simple. Especially with long mails the thread often becomes confusing. Some mail programs hide signatures in such views. But you should conserve the recipient’s rare screen space and use a smaller font size in any case. Long legal notices etc. should simply be linked. The signature is only for personal and contact data.
Tip: Include the closing formula in the signature and save yourself unnecessary typing work.
Salutation and closing formula
Dear Sir or Madam,
Please make sure that you use an appropriate form of address. However, an e-mail is not a letter, and it is therefore permissible to be a little more informal – as long as the recipient is known to you. Nevertheless and especially for important mails to unknown recipients, to groups of recipients or to recipients with certain titles there are some things to consider.
Especially for job applications, the salutation is often of decisive importance. If you can name a specific contact person, you have a clear advantage. If this is not named in the job posting, then a call to the department or research on the homepage often helps. Don’t miss this advantage, show interest in your counterpart and avoid, whenever possible, an undirected generic address when applying by e-mail.
For titles, for example. to note that always only the highest is named. An e-mail to Mrs. Prof. Dr. Swan should e.g. should be introduced like this: "Dear Professor Schwan"
Tip: There is NO comma after the closing formula. Far too often this simple spelling rule is forgotten:
Recipient, CC and BCC
One of the biggest blunders is hidden in the simple recipient fields. Few things are more embarrassing than revealing yourself as a digital novice by sending a circular email to a large open distribution list. Here it can become also data protection-legally tricky. Signal with the assignment also a hierarchy. The carbon copy (CC) should not be for the main recipient (from whom you may be. The BCC address can only be used for confidential mailings (e.g., if you are expecting a reply).
A communication and data protection super disaster and unfortunately pretty much exactly how it happened. Quite apart from the questionable formatting and content. Circulars should never go to the visible recipients in the CC.
Tip: If you want to send a mail to a group of recipients who are not allowed to see each other, send the mail to yourself and put the actual recipients in the BCC field.
This area is also less banal than first thought. Because a precise subject is incredibly important, not only for the later search, but also so that the recipient can immediately clearly understand what it is about. A subject may well be several words, but it must and should only be used in exceptions continuous text.
Just search for "No subject" in your mail program. You will be amazed how many unclear mails have been sent to you.
All emails should have a precise subject. No one can do anything with such an inbox.
Tip: If topics change in the course of an email discussion, better create a new thread with an apt subject.