Five tips for how to email at work

I used to think that a lot of office jobs mostly involved drinking coffee and reading emails, and now I know that I was right all along. Emails are the main part of a lot of office jobs, keeping in touch with the internal team, clients and more. But how exactly do you write a professional email at work?

It’s a mystery to us all when we first start working and something that can take a good while to master. I’ve put together some tips – with the help of my lovely colleagues – on how to email at work.

This might not apply to all lines of work, so it’s important to have conversations with your manager or team about whether there are specific rules or best practices at your company.

Make sure you reply

The main thing to remember when emailing is to just reply. If someone has gone out of their way to email you, or has sent a piece of work for you that has taken up time in their day, it is really important to reply and acknowledge their email and effort.

Even if you don’t have the time to look at what someone has asked you just yet, or if you’ve got a meeting the following week to discuss it, it takes about ten seconds to send a simple “Hi, That’s great, thank you. Best wishes” It takes even less time if you have your email signature on automatically – huge time saver in general, by the way.

Review your email before sending

There’s nothing worse than having to send another email with a “sorry, here’s the attachment.” or “sorry, I meant shut*”.

Always take the time to review your email before sending, checking for any spelling mistakes, missing attachments or random recipients that have crept in. Email programmes have a feature where they suggest contacts to send to, so make sure you have selected the right one before sending!

How to email at work | image showing coffee and holding a phone with an email open.
Email culture can take a while to adjust to

Add the recipient last to avoid sending too early

If you’re feeling anxious about who you’re emailing, what you’re saying or just don’t want to make a bad impression, remove the recipient until you’re ready to send the email. This way you can avoid any awkward conversations that occur from sending a half-finished email or before you’ve had the chance to read it through.

Don’t let your call to action get lost in the message

If you’re sending an email to ask someone to do something for you, put your call to action as near to the top as you can. This way the recipient knows exactly what you want from them and when by.

It’s also important to note that sometimes a call is a lot easier than an email to ask for something, so work out whether it’s best to just pick up the phone instead of typing an email. You can always put things down in an email afterwards if you need a paper trail.

What to put in the subject line – be concise and clear

Always be really clear and specific about the email in the subject line, this is what people will see first so it’s good to give as much detail as you can in a few words – it’s a lot easier than it sounds.

If you’re emailing about a certain client, project or event, put that first and then a couple of words about the specifics. It can also be helpful to put what the action is at the start of the subject line, so the reader instantly knows what’s expected of them. For example, you might put “For review – Client Name Final Draft”.

Subject lines are really helpful for not only instantly grabbing the reader’s attention, but makes it so much easier to find emails relating to a certain client or event simply by typing in the name.

A little reminder, too. Not everyone will email how you do, people might not acknowledge your ‘How are you?’, and sometimes people might not even reply, but it’s important that as a young professional you keep up with best practice. As you go through the positions in a company and find yourself with less time, remember that it doesn’t take even ten seconds to do some of these things.

So how many of these email etiquettes do you put into practice at work, or do you have any other tips that you’d like to share?

If you’d like to read more tips about emailing and other best practices at work, sign up to my mailing list to be the first to access my e-book “How to survive your first year after university” or check out this blog post for more tips about dealing with your email inbox.

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This Post Has 59 Comments

  1. Sophie Harriet

    These are really useful tips, and most of them can apply to personal emails as well. I already add the recipient last, as I’m paranoid about sending an unfinished email, or emailing the wrong person by mistake. But I have been known to forget the attachment(s)!

    1. Maddie

      Thank you I’m glad you think so ☺️ it’s a good way to remove that worry isn’t it!

    1. Maddie

      Thank you! Me too, it’s a nice awkward follow-up email!

  2. Inside The Voyage

    Oh I love the tip on adding the recipient last. So many times have I accidentally sent the email without finishing it.

    1. Maddie

      It’s really helpful isn’t it? Haha me too!

  3. John Aiwone

    Great set of tips Maddie 🙂 Whilst my job doesnt necessarily involve dealing with emails but for blogging and approaching brands some of these tips will come in handy. are Adding the recipient last in the CC or address box can definitely be a life saver!

    Keep the content rolling through. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog recently 😊

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

    1. Maddie

      Thank you Johnny!☺️ yes I’m sure they can help with blogging emails too, so I’m glad they can be helpful to you! Thank you very much that’s so lovely to hear ☺️

  4. Inna

    Great advice! 😀 Thank you for the tips. This could really help being more professional. 🙂

  5. nortoncharity

    These are all such great tips. I have been trying to make my emails appear more professional so this is perfect timing. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Maddie

      I’m glad you find these useful! ☺️

  6. Anna

    I cannot tell you how many times I have sent an email before I finished it but never considered not entering the recipient after finishing my email! Thank you so much for the excellent advice, I love all of these tips and cannot wait to incorporate them!

    1. Maddie

      Me too! Ah I am so glad it can help you, good luck with using them! ☺️

  7. I’m a full-time blogger but all these tips are super helpful for me too! I really need to add the recipient in last – the amount of times I’ve sent something before it’s finished! I’m the worst for forgetting to include attachments before I send the email haha! xxx

    1. Maddie

      It’s good to know that these are helpful to a lot of industries!☺️ I’m the same, I do it all the time!

  8. Sumedha

    Lovely tips! I just started working and sending emails so this is helpful 🙂

    1. Maddie

      Thank you, I’m glad you find it helpful ☺️

  9. Lindsey

    These are some great tips! My email sending has definitely changed in the last couple of years since I’ve been working but a few of these I hadn’t thought of, like removing the sender to stop any awkwardness until your ready. Thank you so much for this!

    1. Maddie

      I’m so glad you think so – I hope you can feel better about your emailing by using these! ☺️

    1. Maddie

      You’re very welcome! Hope they help you with your emails ☺️

  10. Adding the recipient last is something I can actually use, I always send half-written mails 😛

    1. Maddie

      Haha me too, good luck! ☺️

  11. Jaya Avendel

    I love your thoughts on subject lines; I always get bogged down with what to put there.
    I have accidentally sent way too many emails too soon so your tip on adding the recipient last is a great way to avoid those little accidents! And nothing beats a final edit before hitting send. 🙂

    1. Maddie

      Thank you Jaya I’m glad you like the tips! Good luck with using them all ☺️

  12. Nancy

    YESSSS on all of these tips!! I always make sure that I get the typos right and everything. I hate sending double emails correcting myself. AlsooOOO I HATE REPLY ALL!!! I totally agree with the subject line. If I can’t see it in the preview, it will not make me want to check it first. Thanks for sharing all of these tips!

    Nancy ♥

    1. Maddie

      Haha I’m really glad you like them! Ooh why aren’t you a fan of reply all?! Yes I agree about the preview, it makes all the difference. Thank you for your comment ☺️

  13. Such great advice. I remember after graduating and getting my first office job, I was never really sure if my emails were written formally enough or how to write a good subject heading. Overtime I’ve got much better, but this advice is still certainly helpful for me when replying to blogging emails.

    Kate |

  14. Sam

    this time of year, tips for transitioning the new work fore are appreciated.

    1. Maddie

      I agree – thank you!

  15. Hannah Read

    These are really good tips! Sometimes crafting professional emails can be a bit of an art, and you’re pretty much just expected to know how to do it when you start your first job. I think the notification that tells you that you forgot to attach something is an absolute life saver!

    1. Maddie

      Thank you ☺️ yeah it’s really tricky to get right and we’re not ever told! It really is ☺️

  16. Lauren Kenny

    Thank you for sharing this advice! I have definitely done it where I haven’t attached something too, once to the CEO of our organisation – facepalm!

    1. Maddie

      You’re welcome! Oh no, it happens to us alL!

  17. I have to do so many emails for work and the amount of time I accidentally click send before I’m ready is ridiculous. So I love that tip about putting the recipient last – that’s going to be a real life saver so thank you!

    1. Maddie

      It’s so easy to do isn’t it! Thank you, you’re welcome ☺️

  18. Charlotte Louise

    These are some really great and useful tips! I’m a very anxious person and always get so paranoid when I have to send emails. Will definitely be using these tips going forward! X

    1. Maddie

      Thank you ☺️ oh no well I hope these tips help you out!

  19. Green Socks

    Great post, something we can all learn from, not just graduates.

    1. Maddie

      Thank you, yes definitely for everyone! ☺️

  20. Lisa Alioto

    Love the tip about putting in the sender last – lesson learned on that one!

    1. Maddie

      Yes definitely an experience we’ve all had!

  21. Kayleigh

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I found myself agreeing as I read it. I definitely need to apply these tips to my life lol. I look forward to reading more. Great post x

    I’m a new blogger. If you get a moment to look at my blog I’d love your feedback. Thank you x

    1. Maddie

      Thank you very much ☺️ I’ve taken a look and really like it! Good luck x

  22. Adding your recipient last is a trick that I learned really quickly… after sending a few emails that I really wish I hadn’t sent out when I did! Sometimes you go into autopilot and hit ‘send’ too soon, but avoiding adding the recipient means that you’ll catch yourself at that moment.

    1. Maddie

      Haha it’s one we all learn from experience! Yes exactly! ☺️

  23. I email for work all the time and this is spot on. The only thing I’d add is as soon as you reference the “attachment” you should attach it. So many times people (me included) forget to add the attachment referenced in the email. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Maddie

      Yes definitely, it’s always a good plan to put it in right at the start! Thank you ☺️

  24. Lisa's Notebook

    Wow, these are useful tips, I wish I’d had them when I started my first job! That said, your point about adding the recipient last to avoid sending too early is gold now – the number of times I’ve accidentally sent a half-written or non-proofed email makes me cringe 🙁 Thank you for these tips! Lisa x

    1. Maddie

      Thank you, I’m glad you think so! ☺️ haha we’ve all done it many times! X

  25. Gemma Jayne

    These are some great tips! Very useful 😊 xx

    1. Maddie

      Thank you very much ☺️

  26. Becca

    So glad I’m not the only one who puts the recipient last! Great tips

    1. Maddie

      It’s such a simple way to avoid any embarrassment! Thank you ☺️

  27. This is a really interesting post – I don’t think I’ve seen a post on how to write work emails before 😊 I remember when I did an internship years ago, I was surprised at how casual a lot of people’s work emails were, with emojis in the text and various things! That definitely helped me view things as: stay professional, but also don’t worry too much! because I often read over an email way too many times before I send it!

    1. Maddie

      It’s never really covered but so important! I completely agree, and then I find myself taking about two seconds to read an email and don’t really mind if there’s a small mistake in it, so it makes my constant reviewing of an email seem pointless!

  28. I totally felt the one about adding the recipient last. I’ve messed up so many times in the past!!!

    1. Maddie

      It’s so easy to do and can save a lot of mistakes!

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