Work email etiquette: 10 things not to do when emailing in the office

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Megan Murray
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These are the work email absolute don’ts you need to know about. 

Let’s face it, when it comes to office politics, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Every workplace is different, and therefore so are the expectations and opinions of those who work there. But there does seem to be a few habits that get under the skin of any colleague, especially when it comes to emails.

We’re sure you’ve heard the groan of the person next to you when another passive aggressive message lands in their inbox, or felt yourself be flustered by phrases like “as per my last email” – which we all know means “read the above, you numpty”.

So, it might comfort you to know that research has now shown there are some definite don’ts when it comes to work emails, meaning you know exactly what to avoid.

Perkbox Insights, an employee experience platform, has conducted a study of 1,928 people to find the biggest email don’ts, from irritating phrases to tactics like re-sending.

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While most people’s preferred greeting is a simple “hi” and their favourite sign off is “kind regards”, it seems that the more informal you are when emailing in a professional capacity, the more annoying people find it.

Indeed, Perkbox has found that there are 10 things that we should especially avoid when reaching out to someone over email, with the most hated using all capital letters for a whole word, or worse yet, a whole sentence.

Next up is those who use kisses to sign off an email when they don’t know the person appropriately. Then, CC’ing people into an email who aren’t needed.

There seems to be three overarching themes to the data: passive aggressiveness, pushiness (for example, overusing exclamation marks), and getting a little over-friendly with slang words.

How many of these office email blunders have you done?

You can see the full list of don’ts in work email here:

1. Using capital letters for whole words or sentences.

2. Using kisses or ‘x’.

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

4. Using slang, eg ‘OMG’.

5. Using too many exclamation marks.

6. Sending an email without proofreading.

7. Sending very long emails.

8. Using emojis.

9. Not having an email signature.

10. Double emailing.

11. Using smiley faces.

12. Using coloured fonts.

If this has given you food for thought, check out our careers page to find out what the unexpected side effects are of receiving a rude email, the best ways to focus if you’re feeling overwhelmed and three ways to deal with a bad boss.

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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