10 biggest email mistakes for business pros to avoid

With more employees working remotely, email communication is even more critical, just make sure you spell the recipient's name correctly.

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The influx of remote work, brought on by the novel coronavirus, has caused a spike in collaboration tool usage. In the past two months, Zoom usage has grown by 574% and email services such as Microsoft Outlook account for nearly 40% of total application use, an Aternity report found

SEE: 20 resume mistakes to watch out for (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Email is one of the most common forms of communication within organizations, holding a strong presence before enterprise instant messaging services like Slack. Sending emails is a part of most employees' daily operations, but the form of communication is prone to mistakes. 

Professionals need to be careful when crafting an email, as simple mistakes can completely change the meaning and reception of a message. The following 10 common errors can make or break an email correspondence. 

10 biggest mistakes to avoid in an email

1. Grammar flaws 

One of the most common email mistakes involves improper grammar and spelling, which is why proofreading even short messages is crucial, said Matt Woodley, founder of Credit Informative. 

Spell Check doesn't catch everything. An incorrect word can change the intent of a message, and a misspelled word can make the writer seem careless. A quick read-through of an email can make all the difference in how the writer and content are perceived. 

2. Spelling the receiver's name wrong

Another major email mistake is when the writer misspells the receiver's name. This action is a very quick way to get your message deleted. It takes a couple of seconds to double-check the spelling of a name, which shows attention to detail and professionalism. 

"Spell someone's name right," said Neal Taparia, co-founder of Solitaired. "If you misspell, you won't get a response. When someone addresses me as Neil instead of Neal, I will not respond."

3. Improper use of "Reply All"

One of the more annoying mistakes is when someone uses the Reply All function on a chain of 100 people, especially when the response is just to acknowledge the receipt of the initial message. This mistake can also lead to problematic consequences if the reply was only meant for one person. 

"Once people press that button, it is sent and you can't un-send it. It's good to make sure that the person receives the email that they are meant to read, especially if it's for their eyes only," Woodley said.

4. A careless sign-off 

While it may seem like a little detail, how a person ends a note can have a significant impact. 

"Be careful how you sign off your email. The email signature sets the tone of the email and a small sign-off change can completely alter how the recipient feels when reading the full email," said Stacy Caprio, owner of Her.CEO.  

"For example, signing off with 'Best,' and your full automatic email signature tends to have a professional, cold feel, whereas signing off with 'Regards,' tends to have a neutral feel, and signing off with just your first name and no full auto-email signature is less formal and warmer," Caprio said. "At the minimum, you should be more intentional about how you sign off your emails."

5. Vague subject line

The subject line makes or breaks whether someone opens an email, so the sender should pay close attention to what they say. 

"You should always include a subject line and it should always be relevant to the topic of the email; it should not be vague," said Steve Pritchard, HR consultant for AngloLiners. "Including an informative subject line can also be a crucial factor in helping you find an old email. Also, if the topic of the email changes, try to edit the subject line so it matches." 

6. Listing all emails as "urgent"

Another fatal flaw is listing every email as "urgent." Not only does this get annoying, but it results in the recipient not taking your emails as seriously, which can be detrimental if an email is actually urgent. 

"If it's not that urgent or vital, then it doesn't need to be marked as such. It's important to really consider how urgent the subject matter is," Woodley said. 

7. Clunky formatting

Emails should be easy to read. Professionals are busy, no one wants to take the time to decipher an email or read through a one-paragraph novel, said Jakub Kliszczak, marketing specialist at Channels. 

"They'd like to read it, most likely get something out of it, and know what to do next," Kliszczak said. "Writing clear emails with the smart usage of bold font and headers can make a huge difference." 

8. Weird fonts

Using a strange font will not garner the attention you want. When people receive an email, they should be paying attention to the content, not the way it looks. 
 
"Please, for the sake of humanity, let go of Comic Sans. We hate it. End of story," said Susana Fonticoba, founder of Clear Path Marketing. "And no matter how fascinating or urgent your message is, there is no need to bold, italicize, underscore, highlight and change colors on your fonts in one message. It is an eyesore and our eyes are already tired." 

9. Unnecessary automated signature

A signature that states a name, title, and form of contact is helpful, but no other information is necessary. 

"I don't need to know your favorite quote, all of your certifications and awards, your fax number, and everything else that's completely extraneous and unhelpful. Please remove your signature clutter," Fonticoba said. 

10. Selecting the wrong recipient 

One of the worst mistakes is sending the email to the wrong recipient. This action is an easy mistake, but also a careless one. Not only does it cause confusion for the person that actually receives it, but it shows a lack of conscientiousness. 

For more, check out How to use an email forwarding service on TechRepublic. 

Also see 

Woman hand using smartphone to send and recieve email.

Image: iStockphoto/Suwaree Tangbovornpichet