Email Etiquette: 9 Email Pet Peeves

15/3/2013 |


We’ve been thinking about email etiquette recently – the do’s and don’ts of writing clear, productive and helpful emails.

When we asked you (via Facebook and Twitter @thinkproductive) about your email pet peeves, we were overwhelmed with the response, so we’ve drawn up a list of inbox annoyances.

Feel free to add yours in the comments section, or via Facebook  and Twitter @thinkproductive.

1. Misuse of subject line

Use the subject line like the headline in a newspaper. Don’t always leave as “Re: ABC” if the topic has actually moved on” Rob Geraghty

When you write an email, be smart with the subject line – give the recipient a heads-up of what the email contains and what is expected from them. ie Meeting Agenda for Monday – (please read and distribute). Read our blog post on Email Subject lines here

2. Unnecessary CCing

Do you really need to add all those people to your email CC (carbon-copy) list? Make it clear why each person is included in the email: what do you need them to do? Are you addressing them directly (use to) or really just keeping them in the loop? (cc)

3. Text Speak – abbreviations

Save the text speak for the text message (and the teenagers). Really, we’re not restricted  by character limits any more so write properly, and avoid abbreviations if possible. Do you really want the recipient to email back asking what you mean?

4. Failing to include alternative contact details

Often people hide behind their email – so they avoid putting any kind of alternative contact details on their signature. Sometimes an issue needs to be addressed quickly by the recipient and they may need to call you. Stop being a chicken and add your phone number!

5. Emails from addresses that aren’t monitored /no reply

A lot of corporations use this approach for email marketing: sending messages from accounts that aren’t monitored. If you need to get back to them, what do you do? If you do use a no-reply email address, add a monitored email address at the bottom – so customers can reply if they need to!

6. Marking the email as urgent when it isn’t

We suggest marking emails as urgent if they are, but don’t become the boy that cried wolf. Marking every email as important will make you look self-important, and all your messages will be immediately disregarded as “non-important”. Use this tactic wisely!

7.  Not starting with Dear. Calling me Ross (from Rosalind Waite-Jones)

 “with Kind Regards – arrggggg” (from Gail Fullilove)

This is an interesting one. How do you address someone in an email. Some people consider it as formal as a letter, whilst others treat it as a form of quick messaging.

We suggest being appropriate to the person you are addressing – start with letter-style formality, and ease off as the conversation progresses.

Rosalind made another good point above – get the name of the  person right, especially if they’ve already messaged you!

8. Forwarding Sensitive data

Be careful when forwarding emails to other people. Is it ok for them to see the information enclosed in any attachments? Remember, when you forward an email, often the entire conversation is forwarded – make sure there’s nothing explosive or confidential in there!

9. Emailing me, then calling to see if I got it.

A bit of a waste of time this: but have a think why they are calling you. Are you a bit slow at replying?

If you’re the one emailing then calling, consider using the read-receipt function on your email – you will be sent a notification when the recipient opens the email.

Over to you! Tell us your pet peeves in the comments below … 

emaile-thumbLike this? Try these

Sign up for one of our Email Etiquette workshops 

 Write the perfect Email Subject Line 

How to use TO, CC and BCC



  1. Brad Patterson

    I think unnecessary CCing is up there for me.

    Otherwise, a bit pet peeve is folks that reply quickly and multiple times… as in 3 emails when they could’ve put it in one. Alas… we all email differently 😉

  2. graham

    Hey Brad,

    yes, that’s true! Our Email Etiquette workshop helps teams to facilitate conversations about what’s good practice – we don’t believe there’s the same standard set of rules that fit every company (although certainly a lot of the above are common sense good practice for everyone!)


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