Work Relationships

11 of the Most Unprofessional Email Habits

Written by Peter Jones

You have a good job and your life is off to a successful start. Trouble is, you didn’t get the memo that you’re supposed to conduct your email correspondence like a grown-up. Before you make any mistakes that can get you labeled as unprofessional at work, check over this list of totally unprofessional email habits to avoid at all costs. Whether you’re communicating to your boss, a client, or your coworkers, it’s important that you conduct yourself well.

1. Rambling

You don’t just say what you need to say, succinctly. You go on and on and on. You back into the point, reiterate the point, say a few things that aren’t relevant to the recipient—and therefore ensure nothing you say will really be digested.

Respect your own time—and the time of the person(s) on the receiving end of your email. Be as straightforward and concise as possible. And don’t send emails just for the sake of sending them. Make sure you have something concrete and important to convey!

2. Forgetting the Attachment

Even Gmail will alert you if you write “attached” anywhere in your email and forget to, you know, attach something. Always double check your messages before sending and try attaching the document first, before drafting the body message.

3. Misspelling Names

How hard is it to spell your recipient’s name correctly? It’s literally right there in front of you. In your sidebar, in your address line, in their signature, in your contacts list! Addressing to Philip instead of Phillip or Megan instead of Meghan when the email address is clearly Philip@ or Meghan@ is just embarrassing. Do better.

4. Faking Urgency

Only use the urgent function when the message is actually urgent. Don’t be the girl who cried “urgent!” or no one will care when you have to send a message that is actually urgent.


You may think you’re being charming or funny or underlining a point, but really you just sound like you’re coming straight out of a teenage chat room. If you must emphasize in text, use bold or italics or underlining instead.

6. Misjudging Tone

You can miss the mark if you go too casual (“Hey ya’ll, So I was thinking…”) or too stiff (“Dear Sirs and Madams, Upon further consideration…”). Keep it professional, snappy, and do your best to reflect the relationship you have with the recipient(s).

7. Reply All

If what you’re about to type isn’t absolutely crucial for everyone on the chain to receive, then please restrain yourself and reply only to the person who needs the information.

8. The Inappropriate CC

If you don’t have someone’s permission to CC them, you could get in some hot water—say if they don’t want someone to have their contact information, or if they feel uncomfortable being put on the spot and looped into a discussion. Make sure never to assume it’s okay to drag someone new into a conversation. Ask first.

9. Subject Shenanigans

No nos: 1. using a subject line that’s vague, like “Hey” or “FYI.” Put in enough information so your recipient knows what the email will be about, roughly. 2. Starting a sentence in the subject line that you finish in the body of the email. 3. Not including a subject at all.

10. Being Snide

You may be annoyed at having to explain something again, or just very busy! But there’s no need for you to let your snippiness show in your emails, nor to be unnecessarily curt—especially when communicating with respected colleagues and friends. Err on the side of politeness. Say please and thank you. Sign off with a “best.” Bare minimum.

11. Sloppiness

You may not think you’ll be judged on anything but the content/merit of your emails, but you will. Make sure to punctuate, capitalize, spell check, proofread, use correct grammar. And make sure to use a professional font. No goofy cartoonish text or fruity colors. Keep it professional and easy for your recipient to read!

About the author

Peter Jones