Email etiquette and what teens should know

Create a positive first impression by using these email tips.

Graphic of an email.
Graphic by Kathy Jamieson, MSU Extension

When is it more appropriate to send an email rather than a text? Although text messages get read more often and quicker than emails, emails are still an important form of communication, especially during your job search, professional networking, applying for scholarships, communicating with teachers and supervisors, and sharing detailed information. Understanding email etiquette will help ensure you are creating a positive first impression and increase the likelihood your communication will be read and taken seriously.

Here are a few email etiquette tips to consider.

Include a greeting and closing. Use a proper greeting, such as “Dear…” or “Good Morning…” End the email with a closing, such as “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” “Respectfully yours” or “Regards.” Include your contact information including name, phone number and email so it is easy for the reader to get in touch with you.

Identify the subject. Your email message should include a clear and concise subject line. Make sure the reader knows what the email is about. Are you asking the reader to act on your message? If so, you can include the action in your subject line (i.e., “Promote…,” “Share…,” “Read…,” “Request information…”). If you are looking for work, list the position you are applying for in the subject line. If your message is time sensitive, you might want to include a date in the subject line, like “Request needed by August 5.” It is important not to leave the subject line blank because it will increase the possibility your email will be deleted or end up in the spam mailbox.

Watch your tone. Think about the impression you are making in your email. Since your words do not come with facial expressions, gestures or other nonverbal clues, it can be easy to misread your tone. Do not use all capitals to highlight something. This can be misinterpreted as shouting at the receiver. If you are upset or feeling emotional, you may want to wait until you are in a better frame of mind before writing your email.

Use business writing. Emails should be written in full sentences and paragraphs just like you would write a business letter. Check spelling, punctuation, grammar and avoid abbreviations and “text speak.” Know the difference between their, there and they’re; too, to and two; and your and you’re. Emails are considered professional communication and you will want to proofread them before they are sent.

Michigan State University Extension has a variety of resources to help you prepare for your career and as you transition to adulthood. A positive first impression can be built through both your verbal and written communications. Good email communication can help you build your network of people who can help you reach your goals in life.

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