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9 Common Mistakes to Watch Out for in Work Emails

Have you ever received a poorly written email in your inbox? You might have wondered what that email was all about and how to respond. To avoid sending a lousy email yourself, go over this list of common mistakes in work emails.

1. Missing Subject Line

Gmail account showing an email with no subject line

One of the common mistakes in writing work emails is not including a subject line. A list of subject lines is the first thing people see when they open their email accounts. If someone receives a ton of emails, an email without a descriptive and appropriate subject line will likely get ignored.

HubSpot Blog Research shows that effective subject lines should inspire curiosity and be personalized. Let your recipient know why your email is important through your subject line. The subject line “Newsletter 1” is vague and doesn’t engage anyone’s interest. But “Newsletter 1: This Month’s Top Performers” will likely get more views.

2. Using the Wrong Tone

Word cloud showing similar words with different connotations

The tone of an email can reflect how you want to be perceived. Your choice of words either reflects a positive or negative tone. For instance, commenting that someone’s idea is “strange” has a different connotation from saying that the idea is “unique.” Learn to distinguish between shades of meaning and choose the right words.

Work emails should sound professional. The degree of formality depends on your work culture and professional relationship with the recipient. If the work culture is friendly, or you’ve been colleagues with someone for a long time, you can start your work email with “Hi John.” But if you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know in another company, it’s safer to address them using the format “Dear Mr. Smith.”

When you doubt your choice of words, consult an online thesaurus or dictionary. The online typing assistant Grammarly also includes a writing tone detector in its features. You can change the tone in the settings to sound confident and professional.

3. Missing Details and Attachments

Jigsaw Puzzle with missing piece

It’s annoying to receive a work email with incomplete details. Emailing back and forth to get information is a huge time waster. To avoid this, outline all the basics: who, what, when, where, why, and how. You may follow the following format:

  1. First paragraph: Greeting and the main point of the email.
  2. Second paragraph: All the relevant details the recipient needs to know about the subject.
  3. Third paragraph: Call to action (e.g., do they need to respond, accomplish a link, etc.).
  4. Fourth paragraph: Thank You.

Remember to attach any other files that your recipient needs. One common mistake is saying that you attached a file without doing so! You can avoid this by reading your email before sending it.

4. Neglecting to Edit and Proofread

Close up of typewriter and paper with words edit and rewrite

An email replete with grammatical and sentence errors sounds unprofessional. Your recipient might think you didn’t put careful thought into your communication. Mistakes usually happen when you’re in a hurry or think faster than you type. But there are ways you can avoid or lessen this.

You can start with an outline before filling in all the details. After you’ve drafted your email, take time to review it before hitting send. Since it’s harder to catch errors when you’re the writer, use online tools. If you don’t like downloading apps and extensions, search for the best download-free spelling and grammar checkers.

5. Unprofessional Email Address

ipad in the middle of a phone and smartwatch with spongebob on the home screen

Imagine how a client or colleague would react if they received an email from [email protected]. Unprofessional email addresses make you look, well, unprofessional. To avoid this cringe-worthy faux pas, use your work email.

If you don’t have a company email, read up on how to use a custom email address with Gmail for professional emails. Suppose Gmail is not your cup of tea. You can explore the options for setting up a custom email with the most popular email providers, better than Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

6. No Signature Block

man holding up a blank business card

Think of the signature block as your business card. This element is placed after your signature and contains your full name and contact details. The signature block helps the recipient identify your company and the position you hold. It allows recipients to quickly find your information if they need to reach you through channels other than email.

Ask your company if it has a required format for the signature block. If not, you can add the following elements:

  • Full Name
  • Role
  • Team/Department
  • Company Name
  • Contact Number
  • Company Website
  • Company Social Media Accounts

You can customize the signature block in your email settings. Remember to edit and proofread this portion as well. When saved, your signature block will be included in your outgoing email.

7. Not Knowing the Difference Between Cc and Bcc

Cc on red background and Bcc on blue blackground

Cc and Bcc are the fields after the To portion. One of the common mistakes is not knowing when to use them. Cc stands for carbon copy. When you add someone’s email address in the Cc:

  • They will also receive a copy of the email
  • Their email address is exposed to the primary recipient in the To field.
  • They are informed of the communication but are not required to act on or respond to the email.

You use Cc to let the primary recipient know you’re keeping others in the loop. You also use it to keep the person in the Cc informed. For instance, you want to let your manager know how your team’s project is progressing. So your teammates’ addresses should be in the To, while your manager’s address should be in the Cc.

Bcc stands for blind carbon copy. When you add someone’s email address in the Bcc:

  • They receive a copy of the email.
  • Their email address is not exposed to other recipients.

You use Bcc to prevent people’s inboxes from overflowing. If someone from the To or Cc fields hits Reply All, the recipients in the Bcc won’t receive an email. You can also use Bcc to prevent other recipients from knowing that someone else is included in the email. For instance, if you’re sending the same newsletter to all your clients, you wouldn’t want to expose their email addresses to each other.

8. Emailing Beyond Working Hours

Woman inside a car checking her mobile phone

It’s easy to get carried away by the excitement of a new project and email your boss or colleagues at two in the morning. However, this might become an issue. Your boss or peers might think that you’re not respecting their time.

If the email is not an emergency, send it within working hours and give others adequate time to respond. Besides, if your issue is urgent, it’s better to text, call, or send an instant message. A good workaround would be to schedule your emails. The best email scheduling tools you should try will help your email land in someone’s inbox at appropriate times of the day.

9. Responding Late

Email app showing 20 unread messages

When you respond late to emails, it might reflect a lack of commitment toward your work. A simple rule of thumb is to respond within 24 hours or within the given time frame of the sender. Communicate promptly and clearly if you need more time to craft a response.

A good practice would be to enable your email’s auto-response features if you’re busy or out of the office. For instance, you can check how to set up a recurring vacation responder in Gmail. The email platform also has templates, which let you save canned responses.

Avoid Common Email Mistakes and Leave a Good Impression

Your emails can leave a positive or negative impression on your colleagues. To improve your professional email etiquette, avoid these common mistakes in work emails. And remember, when in doubt, don’t send it!

If you need more help in creating emails, try using email templates. Using templates ensures that your communication sounds and looks professional. Start exploring the platforms that let you download free template packs that you can use in your email app.


🧪 |Medical Laboratory Scientist 🥇 | Mindset over Everything. 
 🤝 | Let's Grow Together.

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