10 Professional Email Mistakes to Avoid

Today, email is a very important mode of communication, especially in the professional world. In the office, one could be sending and receiving hundreds of emails in a week or even in a day.

One may think that writing an email is not rocket science, however; even the most experienced people can commit some serious mistakes while sending an email.

So here are some mistakes to keep an eye out for so that you are not guilty of making them.

Here are some very common mistakes that one should be careful to avoid when sending professional emails.

  1. Sending an Email Without a Subject Line

This mistake is one most of us must have committed at least once. Usually, your email program will prompt you to add a subject line before sending it. However, if you are in a hurry to send the email, you simply compose the email and without reviewing it and just press the send button, only to realize later that you have forgotten to add the subject line. This gives a very bad impression to the receiver, and sometimes even causes your email to be ignored as it has no subject line. As a best practice, before composing the email body, always write the subject line first and then compose the email body, so that you can avoid this mistake again in the future.

  1. Sending an Email to the Wrong Recipient

The wrong recipient can be added to the email accidentally, especially when technology provides you with the auto-fill, predictive text, or auto-suggestion features. Also at work, this mistake is quite possible, when two people have similar names. Sending an email to the wrong person can put you in an awkward and embarrassing situation, especially when you are dealing with confidential information. In order to avoid this situation, it is important to take an extra minute to carefully review your recipient list. In the case of people with similar names, check the other details like the location or department and then identify the correct recipient.

  1. Forgetting to attach the Attachment File

This is another very common mistake that people commit while sending emails. When you mention an attachment in the email body, and in a hurry, just forget to add that attachment. This mistake can put you in a bad light and show that you were rushing and therefore were careless. Hence, it is very important to review the email first, check to be sure you have attached the file, and then press the send button. Reviewing an email may just take a few extra minutes, but will save you from the embarrassment that you could face later.

  1. Sending an Email with the Wrong Salutation

Sometimes, we may not understand whether the recipient is a male or a female. As a practice, we just use “Dear Sir” in most of our emails. Sending an email with a wrong salutation (especially to clients and senior management) gives a very bad impression to the reader. Hence, when you are unsure about the gender of the recipient, it is always better to use “Dear Sir/Madam”, as that covers all the bases.

  1. Spelling Mistakes in the Email

Spelling mistakes (typos) can happen while typing an email. In professional emails, such mistakes cannot be ignored, especially when your incorrect spelling may give a completely wrong meaning. It gives a completely unprofessional image of you, and people may not take your email seriously. Therefore, it is very important to review your email and run spellcheck, before sending it. This saves you from committing silly mistakes. It is even better to use tools like Grammarly, which are available free on the Internet and proof-check your email automatically, pointing out spelling and grammatical errors so that they can be quickly and easily remedied.

  1. You hit “Reply to all”, instead of just “Reply”

“Reply to all” is a very critical button, one should use it very carefully. You could accidentally share the information or message to unwanted recipients that may be present in the original email. In order to avoid this mistake, always carefully review your recipient’s list before sending the email to be sure you are sending it to the intended recipients.

  1. Using your Signature Repeatedly in Email Threads

It is good email etiquette to use a professional signature in your emails. However, one should also know the proper usage and placement of the email signatures. This is especially true when replying to email threads. IN that situation, there is no need to place your complete signature as your reply will unnecessarily become lengthy and the reader will also get irritated to see the signature again and again with every reply in the same thread. At such times, a simple Regards or Best regards with your name is sufficient.

  1. Change the Email Subject While Replying to an Email Thread

Yes, this is also a mistake that people commit, not realizing it is a mistake. Changing the subject of an ongoing communication will result in a complete loss of the original topic of discussion. This can confuse the recipient/s with the context and start the discussion of a new subject.  Better to send a separate email with the new topic identified in the subject line.
Also, some people have the habit of picking up some old email, changing the subject line and starting a new communication. This is a poor practice in the professional world. It is always better to compose a new email, with a new subject line to start a fresh communication.

#9 Sending a Large Attachment

Sometimes people just attach a file and send it to the recipients without checking the size of the attachment, only to realize later that they have jammed the entire network or to have it bounce back as the recipient’s server cannot handle it.  So, to avoid this possible problem, always check the size of the file before attaching it. If it is large, try to compress the files before attaching them to the email, so that you can further reduce the size of the attachment. If that is not possible, you may have to send separate emails with smaller attachments on each one.

#10 Using the Chat Abbreviations/Emoticons/Informal language in Emails

We all are so used to using abbreviations and emoticons, that sometimes, we even use them while writing professional emails. For example, using ‘r’ for ‘are’, ‘u’ for ‘you’, ‘ppt’ for presentation, ‘2moro’ for ‘tomorrow’ etc., is something that should be completely avoided in professional the emails. Spell out the complete word and avoid using smileys in professional emails.

If you follow the suggestions above you will have more professional emails with fewer issues and embarrassing moments.


Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoff
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

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