Emails Have Guidelines Too!


           As I am writing this blog, I find it really concerning of the lack of email etiquette. During high school I would always hear my high school teachers complain to the class and administration because students would not know how to correctly formulate an email to a professor/ teacher or an administrative worker. In my English class, my teacher would lose respect towards students that would not formulate an email correctly. The student would send a email as if they were talking to a high school friend but instead it was written for the teacher.

In today’s world, its almost a necessity to be able to formulate an email correctly and to review the email; like a mid-term paper for an important class. Most of the communication between co-workers, student and teachers and so on, is done more over the Internet rather than in person. An email does not have the ability for the reader to see the writer’s expression, so it is important to covey the email in the most respectful and accurate way. The email also has to be typed in a professional manor.

According to Courtland Bovee and John Thill, authors of Business Communication Essentials; there are many ways to formulate an email correctly while still trying to get the message out. In this book some ways to write a well written message is:

  • too control your style and tone
  • select an active or passive voice
  • use plain language (when necessary)
  • choosing powerful words
  • finally maintaining standards of etiquette

In an email, no matter how frustrated you may be by writing the email, you must remember to always keep your professional tone and style intact. For instance, in the Business Communication Essentials; it states that most business messages aim for a conversational style that is courteous but also still holds a business format to the email. While developing the email the writer must choose between active or passive voices and depending on the topic of the email, it will be left up to the writer.

In a passive email, it should be used when the subject receives the action and an active voice should be used if the writer wants the email to make the email livelier and easier to read for the audience. Plain language is good to get your email across because the audience can understand the words without reading it over and over; so in the end the email may seem clearer rather than using big words to try to impress the audience.

The last two points are essential to a good email because choosing powerful words to convey the message to your audience can make or break your whether the audience listens to your email or views your email as informative.

And lastly, if the email maintains a good standard of etiquette, the audience will feel respected and not be offended; while still maintaining a standard of etiquette which encourages a more successful environment for communicating by minimizing emotional reaction. An article, written about the right and wrong ways of a business email, gave examples of a bad and good way to write a professional business email.

Bad Example

Subject: Meeting 

Hi Jim,

I just wanted to remind you about the meeting we have scheduled next week. Do let me know if you have any questions!

Best wishes,


This is a poorly written email because the headline does not specify of when the meeting is going to be held or even what the meeting is about. There is also no clarity of subject or when or where the meeting is going to be held.

Another problem with this email is it looks like it is spam or junk mail. The email does not stand out as an important email to be read. Lastly the tone of the email is a problem. There is nothing wrong with the friendly reminder the email does but the email is missing important details. Lets rewrite this email.

Good Example

Subject: Reminder of 10am Meeting Sched. 10/05 on PASS Process.

Hi Jim,

I just wanted to remind you about the meeting we have scheduled for Monday, October 5, at 10:00am. It’s being held in conference room A, and we’ll be discussing the new PASS Process.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch (x3024).

Best Wishes,


The most important aspect to this email is the headline. The person who this is sent to, will not even have to read the full email to understand what the email is about. The headline will stink out in his email. Secondly, the email is quick in getting to the point. Explains the meeting and does not get off topic.

There are many other ways to foster the perfect email but I am just suggesting ideas and a emphasizing the importance every email is to a co-worker, boss or teacher. I encourage everyone to read this blog and to respond!

John Hurley is a student at the University of South Florida, studying Business Administration. He hopes to work at Tampa General Hospital as a Manager or Supervisor. 

One thought on “Emails Have Guidelines Too!

  1. This was a great blog about email etiquette. You listed great examples which helps the audience understand clearly what you are talking about. Mine was very similar to this except how text messaging can negatively impact informal and formal email writing styles.

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