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Email Do’s & Don’ts

The most annoying things you can write in an email, ranked

Avoid sending ‘just looping in…’ or ‘as per my last email’ if you don’t want to get on the wrong side of your recipient

New research commissioned by employee experience platform Perkbox Insights has revealed the things that the public finds most annoying to receive in an email at work, as well as the cliches that fill us with rage.

The study of 1,928 employed adults revealed that although we might be in 2020, email isn’t dead. 73% state that email is their preferred method of communication for work, with ‘face-to-face’ communication coming in second place (50%).

What’s more, most adults state that they spend between 1 and 2 hours of their workday checking and sending emails, 16% spend between 2 and 3 hours, while a shocking 15% spend 5+ hours. Not only do respondents check their inboxes frequently in work, but almost a third check their emails outside of work ‘every few hours’ while 1 in 10 also check their emails every hour, with the same amount checking ‘constantly’.

All this time spent emailing means that many of us have clear ideas on how it should be done. Most respondents think that the perfect greeting for a work email is ‘Hi’ (49%) and the best way to sign-off is to use ‘Kind Regards’ (69%).

Yet, there are many inbox greetings that don’t get such a warm welcome. The most disliked ways to start an email include ‘To whom it may concern’ with 37% stating that this the worst greeting, followed by 28% who think ‘Hey’ is unacceptable. Nevertheless, it’s important to start your email in some way, as ‘no greeting’ came out on top as the worst way to begin your message (53%).

But once you’ve started an email, how should you end it? After ‘Kind Regards’, ‘Thanks’/ ‘Thanks again’ is ranked in second place as the best way to end an email, with 46% voting for this sign-off. On the other hand, perhaps unsurprisingly, ending an email with ‘Love’ is the worst way to end an email, with 57% stating that this is a workplace no-no.

The worst email sign-offs are followed by ‘Warmly’ (31%), ‘Cheers’ (26%), with ‘Yours Truly’ (24%) and ‘Best’ (12%) all making the list.

Getting to the content of the email – the cliche taking first place as most annoying is ‘just looping in…’, with a huge 37% stating that they dislike this statement. This is followed by 3 phrases relating to being followed up to do something that was mentioned in a previous email. A third of people hate the phrase ‘as per my last email’, followed by ‘any updates on this’ (24%) and ‘just checking in’ (19%).

Finally, looking at general email etiquette, many ‘DON’Ts’ become apparent. In first place of things to avoid doing within a work email is ‘using capital letters for words or whole sentences’ with 67% stating that this is something to avoid. This is followed by ‘using kisses, or ‘x’s’ (65%), ‘CC’ing people who don’t need to be involved’ (63%), ‘using slang, such as OMG’ (53%) and ‘using too many exclamation marks’ (52%).

Delving deeper into the thoughts around exclamation marks, it turns out less is more in this regard. A huge 16% think that it’s never acceptable to use an exclamation point in a work email, whilst 48% think that just 1 is acceptable, just 24% would stretch to 2.

The Top 5 best greetings for work emails ranked:

  1. ‘Hi’ – 49%

  2. ‘Good morning / afternoon’ – 48%

  3. ‘Hello’ – 21%

  4. Dear – 20%

  5. Happy [insert day]! eg Happy Friday! – 7%

 Top 5 worst greetings for work emails ranked:

  1. No greeting – 53%

  2. To whom it may concern – 37%

  3. Hey – 28%

  4. Happy [Insert day]! Eg Happy Friday – 23% (seems that sides are different here)

  5. Greetings – 22%

Top 5 best email sign-offs ranked:

  1. Kind regards – 69%

  2. ‘Thanks’ or ‘thanks again’ – 46%

  3. Regards – 31%

  4. Thanks in advance – 21%

  5. Best wishes – 20%

Top 10 worst email sign offs ranked:

  1. Love – 57%

  2. No sign off – 44%

  3. Warmly – 31%

  4. Cheers – 26%

  5. Yours truly – 24%

  6. Yours faithfully – 18%

  7. Talk soon – 14%

  8. Sincerely – 12%

  9. Best – 12%

  10. All the best – 9%

The most annoying email cliches:

  1. ‘Just looping in…’ – 37%

  2. ‘As per my last email’ – 33%

  3. ‘Any updates on this?’ – 24%

  4. ‘Just checking in’ – 19%

  5. ‘Confirming receipt’ / ‘confirming that I have received this’ 16%

  6. ‘Per our conversation’ – 15%

  7. ‘Please advice’ – 8%

  8. ‘Thanks in advance’ – 7%

  9. ‘Hope you’re well’ – 6%

The biggest email DON’Ts:

  1. Using capital letters for whole words or sentences – 67%

  2. Using kisses or ‘x’ – 65%

  3. CC’ing people who don’t need to be involved – 63%

  4. Using slang, eg ‘OMG’ – 53%

  5. Using too many exclamation marks – 52%

  6. Sending an email without proofreading – 50%

  7. Sending very long emails – 29%

  8. Using emojis – 29%

  9. Not having an email signature – 23%

  10. Double emailing – 22%

  11. Using smiley faces – 22%

  12. Using coloured fonts – 21%

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