Avoid the Horrors of Email Etiquette Mistakes

By Jimmy Bonner | Sr. Program Coordinator | Office of Career & Life Design 

It was a sunny morning. It was my first day at the office and my first task was to send a mass email to our mailing list. I wanted to impress, so I made sure that every aspect of the email was perfect. As I hit the send button, I sat back in my chair feeling pretty good about my first “accomplishment.” Not long after I sent the email, my boss called me into his office. “So, about that email you sent…,” his voice trailed off as he showed me the email that I had just sent. To my horror, I realized what I had just done. Instead of using the BCC line, I inserted the email address in the CC line essentially creating a mess of mass emails being copied left and right to each person as someone would reply back to the email.

In case you are wondering, yes this is a true story. There was nothing I could do to “fix” the problem, but it did open my eyes about how easy it was to mess up a simple email. Below are some tips about email etiquette and how to avoid simple mistakes, because once you hit that “send” button, there is no going back.


This seems like an easy thing to do, but it can sometimes be overlooked. An easy way to catch any mistakes is to read out loud what you have written in your email. Hearing what you wrote gives you better clarity. Spelling and grammatical mistakes gives the impression that you can be lazy or that your time with the person you are emailing isn’t as important.

Reply within 24 Hours

It is in good practice to reply back to an email with a 24 hour time frame. This can sometimes be hard to pull off as we may get busy all of a sudden and forget about an email. If this is the case, you can apologize for the late reply and politely explain your delay.

Double-Check Attachments created an article titled, 20 Best Practices for Email Etiquette in the Workplace. One of the examples cited was about double-checking your attachments. They state, “let the recipient know in the body of your email that you have attached a document. It’s also good etiquette to compress or zip the attachment so it takes up less space in their inbox.” It is also worth noting to click on your attachment before sending it out to ensure that you have the correct file attached.

Use BCC & CC Appropriately

BCC stands for blind carbon copy while CC stands for carbon copy. An appropriate time to use the BCC function would be when you are sending out a mass email (such as a newsletter) to a bunch of people who don’t know each other. The BCC function hides email addresses so no one else can see who the newsletter was sent out to. The CC function works similar to the BCC function but all the email addresses are visible to everyone. This function is best used when you want to send an email to your team and copy anyone else who might find this information useful.

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