A good number of messages you will send in business will go through email. These are important messages that need documentation, but do not necessarily warrant an immediate response. Much like any form of communication, email messages can be done poorly, which can at best create negative feelings in the reader. At worst, it can damage relations or relay the wrong instructions, resulting in losses to the company. Here are 10 quick email tips that will ensure the quality and clarity of your messages:

1.    Proofread

If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be professional. Unfortunately, a few spelling or grammatical errors can damage your reputation. A sloppy or inept email can make people think that other parts of your work are hap-hazard also. Most importantly, proofread your messages before you hit send.

2.    Avoid Humor

Humor is great in face-to-face meetings. It can lighten the mood and help you emphasize your point. However, humor does not translate well in emails. Emails lack three very critical elements:  nuance, body language, and tone. At worst, jokes or attempts at sarcasm could be seen as hostile acts. Keep your language simple and to the point.

3.    Work on Your Subject Line

Even if the recipient has an account dedicated to work, chances are that your message will need to compete with others sent to them. To ensure that they understand the importance of your message, make sure that you have a clear and concise subject line. Consider the subject line your topic sentence, and you may find it easier to write.

4.    Make Time to Reply

While emails are rarely urgent given that people will use direct messaging for queries that require an immediate response, it does not hurt to send a reply. You should even reply if the message was mistakenly sent to you, as it will inform the sender of their error. Even an acknowledgment that you received the mail can put many minds at ease and make you look more professional. Any time within 24 hours of receiving the message is appropriate for a response.

5.    Take Out Excitement Indicators

Tone is hard to establish through text. Exclamation points, for example, can have a greater impact than you intend. Instead of sounding excited, you might come across as angry or aggressive. Putting words in all caps or using emoticons will have a similar negative effect. Just keep them out of your messages, and you will come across as a professional.

6.    Over Explain

A conversation has context, and a clear back and forth. If one party has a question, they can immediately present it and get a response. That back and forth is unwieldy over email, so you must do what you can to prevent it from happening. Assume that the person does not know what you are talking about. Walk them through every reference you can, such as prior messages and communications. The more information you give, the more easily the recipient will understand your message.

7.    Use a Signature Block

One of best tips you can get when it comes to email etiquette is to utilize a signature block. There you can leave important information about yourself for the recipient, such as your title, name, and the company you work for. A bit of self-promotion fits as well. For example, links to your website, but keep it in text to prevent it from distracting from the message.

8.    Use a Professional Greeting

Messages between friends can start with a simple “Hey” but if you are sending a business email, you need to be professional from your start. Even if the contents are casual, the greeting or salutations should remain formal. Use words like “Hello” or “Greetings.” You should also never shorten the recipient’s name, unless they prefer it that way.

9.    Read Your Message Aloud to Check for Tone

Tone is easy to misrepresent or misinterpret in text. Leave little to chance by reading your message out loud before sending it. If it seems aggressive or rude when spoken aloud, most likely the recipient will see it that way. Adjust your wording until that is no longer the case.

10.    Write as if Nothing is Secret

Every email you send will leave a trail that a determined person will find. Whether or not you have something to hide does not matter. Do not write anything that you or the recipient would not want seen by other people. If you must discuss sensitive matters, choose a more secure communication method and leave email out of it.

Writing professional emails consistently will take practice, but it is far from impossible. Keep at it, and eventually every message you write will have the exact tone you want.