Professional Etiquette In The Age Of The Internet

With the steady rise of relaxed texting, emailing, and social media, the line between casual and professional has become quite blurry. Little things like starting your email out with the perfect greeting, or using correct grammar can land you the job, or earn you kudos with your coworkers and boss. Does the netiquette dance sound overwhelming? Never fear, LD is here to save the day.


Beginning and ending anything is always the trickiest part, and emails in the professional realm are no different. The variety of salutations that has to offer are boundless, and somehow we all know that “Hey” or “Hello” just won’t cut it. Stick with the basics: “Dear,” “Greetings,” or “Good morning/afternoon/evening.”

When in doubt, just stick with the formal version of the person’s name, such as “Dr. Smith” or “Mrs. Bell.” Do not use their first name until they give you the clearance to do so. Additionally, use “Ms,” not “Miss” to address unmarried women or women that you’re not sure are married.

Always Keep The Tone Professional

Take this from someone who has landed in their fair share of trouble via Internet correspondence—always err on the side of caution. Plus, most workplaces and schools monitor Internet and email usage, so use and take those #NSFW warnings seriously. Furthermore, generally don’t crack jokes in an email because the receiver might not have the same sense of humor as you, and either the joke will fall flat and/or they’ll be offended. Oh, and while we f*cking love to swear at LD, I’d advise against that in the presence of your superiors. There is a always a “paper” trail.

Grammar And Spelling

Learn it and love it, darlings. Whether you use the Oxford comma or not—stay consistent and use it correctly. Every grammar error that you make when communicating with professors, coworkers, or supervisors is a point against your credibility as a professional individual. Keep those colloquialisms and acronyms between you and your friends.

CC And BCC In Emails

Quick tutorial, darlings—”CC” stands for  carbon copy and “BCC” stands for blind carbon copy. Use CC when you’re not directly addressing the person but you still want he/she to be involved in the conversation. Use BCC when you want to include someone in the conversation, but you don’t want the individual’s presence to be seen in the conversation. It’s a very sneaky little window built into the email system—use it with care.

Avoid The Cheese

For the love of all that is holy in the professional world, please don’t sign off your emails with “Cheers!” or anything else along those lines. Also, while people might disagree with this, I’m of the opinion that you need to leave the sappy quotes off the end of your email signatures. Keep it professional—being mushy has no purpose in your work or school correspondences.

Check out this comprehensive article from Forbes on how to sign off your emails.

Compartmentalize Your Life

What’s the moral of this article? The key is to always keep it professional and classy. No matter how buddy-buddy you might be with your professors and supervisors, if you step out of line you will still get in trouble. Yes, you can send an email or text off from your phone while you’re on the toilet, but that doesn’t mean you can be sloppy. Keep your personal and professional lives separate and you’ll be one of the classiest, badass, professionals out there.

P.S. In support of the Oxford comma.


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