Biggest List of Email Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

Posted by Pallav on November 11, 2014

email mistakes

Former Growth Hacker

Former Growth Hacker in Mailbird

Published on November 11, 2014

While dealing with numerous emails everyday it’s not uncommon to make a few mistakes. However, if you’re making these mistakes unknowingly, it’s time to brush up on your email etiquette.

We’ve complied a list of email mistakes that’ll come handy when you’re sending out an important email and want to make sure you’re not committing a serious email mistake. Take a look and bookmark this page (Ctrl + D) for future reference.

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  1. Replying to an email without reading all the messages in that thread: It makes you miss important points/answers that you should already be aware of before replying.
  2. Forwarding useless messages, chain emails etc.: It’s not early 2000s, forwarding useless message wastes other people’s time and decrease your credibility. Always think twice before forwarding such emails and do it only if you think the other person would benefit from it.
  3. Hitting the send button before you intend to: Prevent it by adding recipient’s email once you’ve finished drafting the email.
  4. Including your signature in every email: Adding same long signature in every email becomes annoying in a threaded email. A good way is to add your signature in the first email and then using just your first name or initials in next replies.
  5. Mistakenly replying to all: This generally happens when you reply back in haste. It’s always a good idea to take your time while replying to an important email.
  6. Forgetting to add the attachment: Most of the email clients alert you when you’re about to send an email if you have mentioned a word like ‘attachment’, ‘attach’ but haven’t actually attached a file. But a good way to escape this problem is to attach the file as soon as you mention about it in the email.
  7. Adding the wrong attachment: This happens purely by chance or when you’re in a rush. Make sure you take your time to select the right attachment or it might turn out to be a blunder.
  8. Adding the wrong email by selecting the first one from the suggested drop down: When you have multiple email addresses of a person you tend to select the first one from the suggested drop down list while typing their email address. It’s always a healthy practice to look through the recipients email before hitting the send button.
  9. BCCing the wrong person: Mixing up the recipients between cc and bcc field can be disastrous. It’s always better to enter the recipients’ email carefully once you’re done writing the email message.
  10. Not including a basic greeting: Sending your first email without a basic greeting sounds rude. The greetings can be formal or informal but it sets a good tone to the start of your email.
  11. Emailing when you’re angry or drunk: Don’t do it, enough said.
  12. Writing with your Caps Lock on: Writing in all caps is sometimes used to emphasize on certain words but writing a whole statement is considered as yelling in many cultures so avoid using it. You can instead bold the part which you want to lay emphasis on.
  13. Being too formal: Being a little formal is required in some business communications but taking it too far will only get in your way of building good relationships.
  14. Being too informal too quick: Special care should be taken when you’re starting a conversation with a business contact or someone you don’t know. Getting too informal might leave a bad impression on the recipient and undermine your credibility.
  15. Sending a canned response without changing the dynamic fields: More the number of dynamic fields in a canned message more careful you should be while sending out the email. Double check it, always.
  16. Spelling mistakes: Most email clients have an integrated spell checker but it is common for people to overlook that. There is nothing more annoying than having multiple spelling or grammatical mistakes in an email.
  17. Writing an unnecessary long email: Don’t write a great American novel, keep it short and relevant.
  18. Forgetting to account the email tone: Email doesn’t have non verbal cues like facial expression, body language etc and thus it becomes even more important to watch your tone while writing an email.
  19. Breaking up over an email: That’s plain rude. Other person deserves better.
  20. Using too many emoticons: While using email for business communication it is important to not use too many emoticons, it makes you look unprofessional.
  21. Using a generic term like ‘To whom it may concern’: Your email has chances of being discarded if you use generic terms like these. Even if you don’t know the name of the person you’re reaching out to, you can always address the designation of the person in the organization, like Marketing Manager, Hiring Manager etc.
  22. Adding too much information in your email signature: That’s a sign of bad email etiquette. Make sure you’re not making these terrible email signature mistakes.
  23. Sending email without reading it over once: Double checking it before sending ensures you are not committing simple mistakes like like ‘sneak peak’ and mixing up ‘there’ with ‘their’.
  24. Spending too much time managing emails: Managing email is not your full time job. McKinsey Global Institute found out that an average office worker spends over a quarter of his day dealing with emails. Try to be more productive with your time. Read more about how to be more productive in your inbox.
  25. Not knowing when to use ‘To’ and ‘CC’: There are no hard and fast rules on how to use ‘to’ and ‘cc’ fields but a generally accepted guideline is that when you add someone to ‘to’ field it means you are expecting their reply and ‘cc’ is used to kee people in loop.
  26. Not implementing the NNTR policy: NNTR stands for No Need To Reply. Sometimes you just have to reply being polite when there is no need for an additional message. At this moment when you know the conversation is going to end, you should add a message like ‘No response is necessary’.
  27. Vague subject lines: It’s always good to have a concise yet relevant subject line. Adding elements like ‘[Urgent]’ etc can additionally help recipient know if the email required immediate response.
  28. Failing to use inline reply: Grouping your replies together for an email that has questions in bullet points make recepient scroll up and down to read question and then your answer. Inline reply serves as a good practice here, makes it easier to read replies relative to the question.
  29. Thinking no one will ever see your email apart from intended recipient: Once an email is sent, consider it public because you have no control over who can see the email afterwards.
  30. Not providing an alternative contact in your vacation auto responder: It’s always a good practice to specify an alternate contact in case someone needs to contact you or your office during an emergency while you have your vacation autoresponder turned on.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.


Former Growth Hacker

Former Growth Hacker in Mailbird

Published on November 11, 2014


3 thoughts on "Biggest List of Email Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make"

  • I think one of common problems is replying on top of the message [which is Mailbird default (and only) behavior too :(]. I know that when reply is on the top – it’s immediately visible on e-mail client – but it destroys natural direction of reading.
    Also when you want to inline-reply to one message in conversation, but not to the rest of them – you messing conversation up even more – one time your reply in on the top, one in the middle.
    But it’s a habit that won’t be easily changed, as most e-mail clients reply on the top, and only some of them has this configurable.

  • LOL. Item 16. I noticed at least two spelling errors in this article! Still, very helpful info.

  • Avatar
    Mike skiffins says:

    15 didn’t make sense to me until I re read it. In England the phrase is ‘the more te …, the more the …’ I hadn’t realised the American difference.
    Similarly with 19
    Otherwise very good and useful

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