Career To: All Those People Who Can’t Write a Proper Email

From: Your extremely patient co-worker.

By Lambeth Hochwald
PUBLISHED 01/11/2024 | 5 MINUTES

Yo Millie Reader!!!

The following is 4YEO and OMG it’s going to be great!!! 🙃🥑👍

If you lead your work emails like this, read on as we discuss a few easy things you can do to polish up your communications. And even if slang and smiley faces aren’t your style, you’ll still pick up some valuable tips. After all, writing a work email is an art form—or at least should be. 

DO: Keep emails crisp—and to the point. Essay-long emails aren’t effective or efficient and reading them will feel like a massive chore. Plus, if there are too many details, the recipient won’t be able to keep track of everything. “A good rule of thumb to remember is that your co-worker or boss probably has very little time to read your email,” says Vicki Salemi, a career expert at “You want to prioritize the information that matters most in not a lot of words.” 

DON’T: Use acronyms or emojis. Emails aren’t texts, period. Shortcut words—such BRB, NRN, PRB, HTH—and emojis should be used very sparingly. Not everyone will know what certain acronyms mean without looking them up and emojis can be misinterpreted very easily (eggplant, anyone?). “If you’re going to use an emoji, do something neutral like a smiley face,” Salemi says. “And, while we’re at it, limit the exclamation points unless you have something really exciting to share.”

DO: Emphasize readability. If you have a lot to say, break the information into bullet points, use bold type or create numbered list to make it as easy as possible for the reader of your email to respond. “Just don’t include your thought process and how you devised each bullet point,” Salemi says. “That’s something you can speak about in a follow-up conversation or video call if necessary.” In addition, if you need to remind your boss or client of an attachment you sent several weeks ago, don’t reference it without reattaching it. After all, you don’t want her to have to dig through her inbox to find it again.

DON’T: Skip the pleasantries. Between the pandemic and the general state of the world, there’s a lot going on right now and you don’t want to launch into an email without treating the person receiving it like a human being. “You don’t always know what the other person is going through, so be gentle and begin your email with words like ‘I hope this email finds you safe and well’ to show you care,” Salemi says. “It’s best not to jump right in or else the email will feel very cold and transactional. Remember: You’re trying to build a relationship with the person you’re writing to.”

DO: Write like a lawyer. Most attorneys write with a levelheaded tone and are very matter of fact. “You can’t tell if a lawyer is having a good day or bad day in an email, and that’s how it should be,” Salemi says. “Overall, you want to think of a work email as a way to move something forward. It’s action-oriented. It allows the recipient to keep you top-of-mind but is not a forum for a stream of consciousness.”

DON’T: Forget an authentic signoff and auto-signature. If you’re constantly emailing with the same co-worker, you don’t have to be formal in your signoff. But if it’s anyone else, especially a client, it’s a good idea to start an email with “Dear so-and-so,” and to end it with a professional signoff—such as best, kind regards, warmly or sincerely—and a proper signature that at least includes your name, title and where you work. “An email relationship can get more casual over time, but it should be formal at the beginning,” Salemi says. 

Anyways, GTG! TTYL and thanks for reading!!!!!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😊

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.

Lambeth Hochwald is a New York City-based writer, editor and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.


Sign up for our free, weekly newsletter


great financial
advice delivered
right to your