A well-written email is a work of pure beauty. Give it a couple more decades and well-written emails might even get their own exhibition at MoMa.
In theory, writing an email is a simple task. You put finger to keyboard, and you type what you have to say. You've been expressing yourself for years — since birth, in fact — so it shouldn't be that difficult, right?
But it's actually so much more complicated than that.
I mean, consider your own email history. How many times have you reacted strongly because of an email you received? How annoyed do you get when an unnecessarily long email chain clogs your inbox? Have you ever been offended by someone choosing the wrong emoji? When you aren't having face-to-face contact, there are so many things that can go wrong.
If only there were some kind of guide or set of rules we could all follow when writing an email to ensure we were communicating in the best way possible.
Fear not! We've put together just such a bible for all your email-writing needs. These are the 10 commandments of sending an email.
1. Do not reply all unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.
Nothing stokes ire in people like an unwelcome email chain. It only takes a few unnecessary comments before the rage-filled “Stop replying all!” and “Unsubscribe” emails start flying. The inherent irony is, of course, that those angry emails only contribute to the reply all free-for-all.
If someone specifically asks in his or her initial email for everyone to reply all, then have at it! Send your response to everyone! But also recognize that the next mass email you get may not be asking for a mass response, so it's imperative that you react accordingly. You don't want to be the target of any email hate.
Of course, accidents happen. You may be checking email from your phone and reply all without meaning to. For those nerve-racking instances, you need an email savior. Lucky for you, Yahoo Mail's Undo Send option gives you a window of time in which you can unsend an email. (YAASSS!)
It might just be a godsend.
2. Unless you're British, do not — under ANY circumstances — sign an email with “Cheers!”
If you were born in the United Kingdom, go ahead and use “Cheers!” as a sign off whenever you want. It's a cultural thing. We get it. We wholeheartedly support it.
But if you were not born in the UK, or you do not currently live there, do NOT do it. It makes you look like an impostor, and you have so many other options to embrace for your sign off.
3. Always proofread. No exceptions.
Typos make it look like you do not care about what you're saying. It's the written equivalent of drunkenly slurring your words. Prevent typos by reading over your emails before you send them, in both personal and professional matters.
4. There's a proper time for an emoji and a bad time for an emoji.
An emoji is a great way to jazz up an email or soften some bad news, but there are definitely times when they are in no way appropriate.
Do use an emoji when you're apologizing for not showing up to your friend's birthday party because you had to work late. The sighing face is clutch.
Do NOT use an emoji when you're emailing with your doctor about some lab tests. He or she doesn't need to know that you're celebrating those negative results with party horns.
5. Sometimes GIFs speak louder than words.
Much like the emoji, the GIF needs to be employed in the right scenarios. For instance, I would not recommend responding with a GIF when your boss asks why you'll need to take next Friday off (she's probably not going to find that endearing). But under the right circumstances, it can really deliver a home run.
When a friend tells you she's engaged, you COULD respond to her announcement with a simple “Congrats!” Or you could find a GIF that shows how PUMPED you are for her. Just search for the perfect trending GIF within your email window on Yahoo Mail.
6. Be careful with the punctuation you choose.
Punctuation can totally change the tone of your sentence.
If you add an exclamation point, great! You just made your email so much more enthusiastic! (Though word to the wise: You should definitely limit the number of exclamation points you use in a business email, lest you look childish.)
If you add an ellipsis … you just created a giant sense of dread in your correspondent.
7. Make sure you're sending your email to the right person.
When you mean to email your boyfriend about your romantic night ahead, you need to be absolutely sure that those details are not on their way to your old boss. This is admittedly less of a problem with Smart Contacts on email services like Yahoo Mail, which aggregate all your friends' and colleagues' contact information, including their email addresses, phone number, LinkedIn and Twitter handle.
And on that note, ALWAYS double check which email account you're sending an email FROM. Imagine the consequences of sending a potentially inappropriate message to a friend from your work account? (Not that you would EVER do that, of course.)
You can avoid this digital landmine with Yahoo Mail's Mailbox Management feature, which allows you to connect all of your email addresses to one place so you can easily choose which account you want to send from.
8. Long-winded emails are trash bin fodder.
If you've just written the email version of the Next Great American Novel, we hate to break it to you, but no one is going to read it.
Literally. No one.
People hate reading long-winded emails almost as much as they loathe unnecessary email chains. Bottom line: Make sure you're presenting your info in a clear, concise way that is easily digestible for the receiver.
9. Don't send five 'quick' emails when you can send one — and never send boring emails if you don't have to.
Is there anything more frustrating than when your inbox is flooded with rapid-fire messages from a friend who ~forgot~ to include the location, date and time of his upcoming birthday party?
The answer is no.
Don't clog your friends' inboxes with multiple emails when you really only need to send one. Be thoughtful about getting all the info you need into one email so you don't have to send five.
And since everything is better with a little pizazz, breathe some life into your email with digital stationery. Apart from essentially guaranteeing your friends will respond to whatever message you're sending, it's also a feature on Yahoo Mail — so you literally have no excuse for that boring white background.
10. Don't reply all.
We realize we've already mentioned this as a commandment. But that is just how important this is to remember. Don't be that person. Never be THAT person.