5 Unspoken Rules For Emails


When we start our first internship or job, or start reaching out to people during our job search, it's assumed that we know how to use email. While you've got the basics down, there are several unspoken rules that you might not know about sending professional emails. Instead of learning them the hard way, here are five of them, so you can be an email pro from Day 1. 

1) Cc vs. Bcc
Cc stands for "carbon copy", while Bcc stands for "blind carbon copy". Cc is used when you want to copy others publicly and Bcc is used when you want to do it privately. Cc recipients see everyone's email addresses and are able to reply all (more on that in #2). Recipients of Bcc emails won't see each other's email address and will only be able to respond to you. Simple, right?

It's largely believed that using Bcc for professional email is somewhat shady, because you're withholding information about who is seeing what. But there are two scenarios where Bcc is totally acceptable. The first is when you're emailing a lot of people who don't already have each other's email addresses. (This is one of my personal pet peeves.) People's privacy is important, so unless everyone already has each other's email address, keep email blasts to Bcc.

The second scenario is when someone introduces you to someone else via email. Acknowledge the person in your reply, but move them to Bcc so that they don't have to see all the emails that follow. 


2) Reply all
The "reply all" button should have a rollover tag that reads, Please Use Responsibly. Again, keeping in mind that everyone gets a lot of emails, be considerate about when you use reply all. On an email to a smaller group who all need the info? Definitely. To send a joke to one co-worker off of an all-agency email? Definitely not. No one wants to see a conversation involving a few people play out in everyone's inboxes. This is one of the biggest annoyances when it comes to email, so only use reply all when necessary.

3) Double opt-in
Being a connector and introducing two people via email is a great thing that we should all do more of. However, make sure to get the okay from both people before making the introduction. Even if you assume it's cool, you don't want to catch one person off-guard. For example, if I think a friend of mine would be a good mentor to a young creative and I make the email intro without checking with my friend first, there's a risk my friend is super busy and doesn't have the time—which leaves everyone feeling let down. A quick, "Let me just check to make sure [name] is down to connect," will avoid these situations. 

Image from    Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

4) One word emails
This is a lesson I heard several summer interns in our Intern Fieldnotes series learn. Before we start working, we may be used to sending quick, one word responses to friends via email or text. While totally fine in a personal setting, this can come off as curt or even pissed off in a professional email (especially in client emails). You don't have to write long, flowery emails, but be sure you're including any context or details needed to move things along in full sentences. 

5) Lonnnnng emails
On the flip side, no one wants to read a five paragraph essay in an email. Break up longer emails with bullet points to communicate your main points, so recipients can get through it quickly.

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