A lot has changed since the days we learned to write letters. I still remember spending a whole class learning how to write different styles of letters. Learning where the date should go, where the address should go, how the salutation should be written and how to end a letter.

So much of the etiquette seems to have been lost in this day and age because of emails. People just spill out whatever seems to come their minds. There are no styles and probably few options to choose from. Here’s my take on emails:

The salutation: I would never start an email with just someone’s name. To me, it sounds like an order or command. If I’m writing to someone I don’t know, a client or someone senior, I almost always say “Dear XYZ” or “Dear Mr. XYZ”. If it’s a coworker or even a client I’m more familiar with, I would say “Hi”. Very occasionally I would say “Hello”, just to make it somewhere between formal and informal. I just somehow makes sense to me. I may even start with just a “Thanks XYZ” or no salutation if it feels like a chat or conversation. This is highly subjective and you would have to know the tone.

The body: Never write in all caps. It sounds like you’re shouting. Never write things in red, again it sounds like you’re angry. If something needs to be emphasised, I use “Bold”, “Underline” or even “Italics”. If something needs to be highlighted, I use the yellow highlighter function or colour it in purple, green, orange, blue. There are so many colours to choose from.

The ending: This is the fun part. I’ve changed greetings over the years. In the beginning, I used to say “Sincerely”. But then it started to sound funny. Then I moved onto “Best Regards”, then “Kind Regards” and now I’ve finally settled on just “Regards”. On occasion, I will say “Thanks,” if I’m requesting for something in my email. I still use “Kind” or “Best”, if it’s an older, more formal person I am writing to. I never just write my name, I don’t know why.

The signature: Most companies have a mandated style of signatures. I use that when I’m writing a new email or replying to clients. However, if I’m carrying on a conversation back and forth, I will not used the 5 line signature. When I send emails from my mobile, I don’t use a signature, since the formatting gets all weird. But I also make sure to delete “Sent from my Mobile device” every time I set up a new email account. That’s just tacky. I mostly just sign my name with my cellphone number.

These are my rules for email etiquette. I would love to find out what others do.