Business E-mail Etiquette

E-mail is a fast and popular way of communicating but we need to guard against becoming sloppy and careless.

Whether intended or not, your written word creates an impression.  E-mail with spelling errors coupled with poor layout and a messy signature will negatively affect your desired outcome.  However, you can ensure that you create a good impression and reach your objectives, by adhering to a few simple rules of etiquette.

The publication content is aligned to Unit Standard 114984, NQF Level 3 with 2 credits.

Target market

The publication is aimed people who need to:

  • Improve their electronic communication 
  • Learn how to structure e-mail in a more constructive way 
  • Phrase emails in a way that ensures a response from the recipient 
  • Learn the etiquette rules of e-mail 
  • Make sure their e-mails are read 
  • Increase work productivity and effectiveness


On completion you should be able to:

  • Explain etiquette, conventions and compliance issues relating to electronic communications
  • Organise and set parameters for a mailbox
  • Use an electronic communication system to send and receive e-mail
  • Manage the messages in an e-mail facility on a PC

Publication includes

  • Interactive exercises to test understanding of concepts 
  • Quizzes at the end of each module
  • Practical examples of the concepts discussed
  • Printable tips and forms for: Planning an e-mail; Common spelling errors; Common grammar errors; General language usage; E-mail etiquette rules; A generic email policy.
  • Step-by-step simulations to demonstrate: Composing and sending email; Setting up a spellchecker; Creating a signature; Creating an address book; Attaching a file; Attaching a file using copy and paste; Attaching a file from within a doc; Creating and deleting folders.

Publication content

1. Planning the Message in Five Easy Steps

  • Deciding when to use e-mail
  • The secret is in the planning
  • Step 1: Know the purpose of the message
  • Step 2: Identify the target audience
  • Step 3: Choose an appropriate communication style
  • Step 4: Address the reader’s needs
  • Step 5: Choose a punchy subject heading

2. Creating the Message

  • Moving beyond writer’s block
  • The upside-down pyramid
  • Style guidelines
  • Addressing your e-mail message
  • Message formats
  • Setting the right tone
  • Layout and design

3. Reviewing the Message

  • Preparing for send-off
  • Setting up your e-mail spell-checker
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Punctuation
  • Attachments
  • The “read receipt” function
  • Signature

4. Organising and Managing Mail

  • Taming your inbox
  • Setting preferences
  • Spam
  • Viruses
  • Hoaxes and chain letters
  • E-mail etiquette rules

5. Sending and Receiving Mail

  • Getting started
  • Composing and sending a new message
  • Receiving mail
  • Important e-mail terminology

6. Compliance Issues

  • The importance of a company e-mail policy

Suggested Learning