E-tiquette Quiz for Business Emails

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I bet I can’t find one person to get a perfect score on this email etiquette quiz.

Email is still our main form of communicating over the internet, but we take it too lightly.

We’ve all had the experience of being misinterpreted over email. A little etiquette (or “e-tiquette”) can save you time and trouble… or maybe save your job.

Etiquette (another way of saying “treating people with respect”) matters — everywhere.

Etiquette Quiz for Business Email

Answer these questions based on what you do the vast majority of the time with your business-related email:

  1. Do you start your message with the recipient’s name and close the message with your name?
  2. Do you include your phone number and other relevant contact info in your signature?
  3. Do you use a descriptive subject line?
  4. Do you keep the sender’s subject line intact when replying to messages?*
  5. Do you have your email set up to display the sender’s original message when you send a reply?
  6. Do you call instead of emailing when the matter is delicate or complex?
  7. Do you avoid conveying bad news over email?
  8. Do you forward messages to a third party only with the original sender’s permission?
  9. Do you send thank-you notes by mail instead of email after someone has gone to a lot of trouble for you?
  10. Do you recognize that email is not private and therefore avoid mentioning private issues over email?
  11. Do you use proper spelling and grammar?
  12. Do you keep messages short and manageable?
  13. Do you respond to the sender’s entire message or else suggest alternate means to discuss any incomplete answers?
  14. Do you read over your message before hitting “send” to check for clarity of your tone and meaning?

E-tiquette Quiz Scoring

How many did you answer YES to?

14 – Perfect score! Fantastic!

9-13 – Still impressive. You’re ahead of most people, but there’s room for improvement.

5-8 – It’s time to take email more seriously and make changes now, please.

Below 5 – Disastrous. You’re driving your email recipients crazy! Stop sending email now until you promise to make some changes.

(I didn’t get a perfect score on my own quiz! And I’ve started making some changes.)

I’d love to hear how you did and hear any e-tiquette thoughts. Leave comments below.

How to Improve

Use the quiz as your checklist to start changing those emails. I bet you’ll notice things will flow a little better at the office.

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*When replying to messages, preserving the same subject line as the original will help the recipient keep the conversation grouped together. Some email programs, such as Gmail, will automatically group conversations together, but only based on keeping the same subject line.

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  • Javier Avellan

    Great post Val. I forwarded it to several folks, including my wife (who works as a technical writing lead at Chevron).

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hey Javier! I'm glad you liked it. This continues to be one of my most popular posts over time.

  • Javier Avellan

    Great post Val. I forwarded it to several folks, including my wife (who works as a technical writing lead at Chevron).

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Hey Javier! I'm glad you liked it. This continues to be one of my most popular posts over time.

  • Melissa L.

    These are excellent tips, Val. I only got a 6, yikes! Some of these will be easy changes (e.g., starting with the recipients name, not changing the email's subject line in my response); however, you'd have to pry my long and complex emails from my cold, dead hands. 🙂

    • Hey Mel. So glad you stopped by for the quiz and especially glad you're
      going to make a few changes at least.

      I have a bad habit of writing too much too, but I notice I get more
      responses when I write less. Stopping there, for brevity practice.

      🙂

  • Fran Fahey

    Val, thanks for posting these tips. Whew! I got a decent score. I can’t tell you how many people don’t include their phone numbers or the previous message–so easy to do! May I add one item: please don’t type emails in all caps. A former boss used to do that (bad typist, busy exec), and it felt awful, as though he was SHOUTING at me. He should have asked his assistant to type his emails. . .

    • Great point Fran. I’m not at all surprised you had a good score since you’re
      a great editor and writer.
      I was apparently overconfident that no one was doing that CAPS thing
      anymore that I overlooked it! Very important.