To Strike the Right Tone in Work Emails, Look Out for These Mistakes

Despite the rise of Slack and inter-office chat apps, email is not going away. It's still very much a part of our day-to-day work lives.

While there are various strategies for getting a handle on your inbox, it’s still wise to cultivate your professional email writing skills to communicate more efficiently and effectively.

The writing app Grammarly polled 3,400 of its users to get insight into their email writing habits. Here are the takeaways from their workplace email report.

Getting the tone right Casual, yet professional? Firm, but light-hearted? No one wants to come across as too aggressive, but no one wants to be a pushover either. Coming across as too informal is also risky.

A lot of respondents said they strive to use the right language, but aren’t always sure how to nail the just-right tone. Over half of the people Grammarly surveyed re-read their email drafts two to four times before hitting send. Women reported re-reading their emails more than men did. Although a second pair of eyes to read through your writing is always good, this can be very time-consuming and unproductive. To increase efficiency and productivity, rather consider using a productivity tool such as that instantly edits and professionalizes your business writing. This will ensure that your emails are fluent and nuanced, saving you the time that you would’ve spent reading and re-reading over them.

The sweet spot number of exclamation points Grammarly asked people how many exclamation points they felt were appropriate. Respondents were divided on this on across ages. Generally speaking, the older you are, the less necessary you feel exclamation points are.

A majority of those under 35 (88 percent) said some exclamation points were appropriate. Thirty percent of respondents over 65 believe zero were appropriate.

But the final results said this: It’s probably safe to stick with one. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone you’re emailing doesn’t have the same communication style as you do.

Even if you want to come across as enthusiastic, remember that too many exclamation points can diminish your professionalism. And if you’re someone who is anti-exclamation point because you think they’re fluff, your emails could be coming off as terse.

When it’s appropriate to express exuberance Barbara Corcoran is someone who feels passionately about chilling out on the exclamation points. She’s noticed that younger women in particular can be heavy-handed with this piece of punctuation. Her advice to anyone sending professional emails is to exercise restraint: Use them intentionally and when they are appropriate.

Corcoran believes exclamation points should only be used:

To genuinely show excitement and gratitude

To come off as friendly and sincere

When you’re asking for a favor

Other tips for writing better emails Don’t forget a proper sign-off. One word in particular vastly improves the response rate.

Keep your messages as brief and a curate as possible. Mark Cuban suggests emails should usually only be three or four sentences long.

Use productivity tools such as to edit your spelling and grammar and professionalize your business writing.

Adapted from an article written by Betsy Mikel, first published on, September 19, 2019