5 email practices you shouldn’t learn from your elders

Throughout college I’ve emailed countless grown ups. Filling inboxes of professors, bosses, potential employers and co-workers, all with a shaky hand. I was not looking forward to that being how I communicated professionally – lots of proofreading and formality.

Then I received my first email. And my first lesson was that adults suck at emailing. Here are some of their errors you should never make:

Excessive Punctuation

There is never (never) a case to use more than one exclamation point, question mark or, god forbid, both back-to-back. I understand that some people feel the need to put emphasis to drive an idea home, but it’s an email, not a text – be appropriate. This applies to unnecessary capitalization too.

Passive Aggression

Yes, email is all written communication, so you can’t always decipher exactly what the other person is trying to convey. But, passive aggression is something I think you can usually tell. Especially when bullets are being dodged and fingers are getting pointed. Just take the blame and move on.

Meaningless Ending

“Best,” “cheers” and “warm regards” are remarks that literally have no meaning. Not only are they usually automated so there’s no way the sender put any effort to type it out, but how does it add anything your message? I know you don’t wish me the best because why would you?


No email should take more than one skim through for the reader to know what needs to get done – if nothing needs to be done, there shouldn’t be an email. Having to search for the main point can be exhausting when it happens often, and usually leads to another email having to clarify.

Judging the Sender

I get that talking to new people can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore them completely. Understandably, our “entry-level” emails are going to be opened and responded to last, but many times we’re stuck not being able to do our jobs waiting for answers.  

If you need some more tips, check out these on how to write a professional one.

Featured image by Alexis Paige