Professionalism When Using UP Mail

The UP Mail provides email services to all students (undergraduate and graduate), employees, and faculty members of the University of the Philippines. As the official means of communication within and outside the university, the UP Mail must be used appropriately to promote professionalism.

Does Sending an Email Have To Be Formal or Informal?

Emails can be as official as any printed letter and it can be both formal and informal. The context and the nature of the correspondence will determine whether the e-mail tone should be formal or informal. Contrary to popular belief, email is not always a type of informal correspondence. In a corporate setting, emails always assume the formal stance.

Recipients sometimes dictate the formality of the email. Email sent to lateral colleagues take the informal stance, while email sent to superiors take the formal stance.

How About Personal Use of UP Mail?

Over the years, students and staff have combined their personal and professional lives in their work or school emails. While the personal use of UP Mail is permitted provided that it is not excessive and does not interfere with one’s or someone else’s work, all users are still recommended to use UP Mail for work or school-related activities as much as possible.

Establishing a separation between your work email address and personal email address enables a better work-life balance, provides convenience should you leave the University — as you do not need to disentangle the personal from the professional email, and protects your personal privacy.

Elements of an Email

1. Recipients

  • To is where you enter the addresses of the main recipient/s of your email
  • CC stands for carbon copy, when you want to furnish email duplicates to individuals other than the intended recipient
  • BCC stands for blind carbon copy, when you want to furnish email duplicates to individuals without informing the intended recipient. Use this only when the recipients don’t know each other and you don’t want everyone on the list to have each other’s e-mail addresses.

2. Subject 
The subject section of an email is where you provide a summary of what your email is all about. Be straightforward and limit your subject to a maximum of Fifty (50) characters.

The following can be appended to your email subject to alert your recipients:

FW: This email was forwarded by the sender

RE: This email contains responses from different recipients

FYI: Stands for “For Your Information”

  • This email is intended to inform recipients about a particular issue/concern. Replying to it is not necessary.

WAS: Subject was changed

OT: Stands for “Off Topic”

EOM: Stands for “End of Message”

  • This email’s entire content is contained in the subject. No need to open/retrieve it.

AB: Stands for “Action By”

  • Recipient of this email must perform an action/complete a task within the indicated time.

Example: Subject: AB+5 WBS for the AusAID Project

(Sender is telling the recipient that only 5 days is given to submit the work breakdown structure for the project)

AR: Stands for “Action Required”

  • This email requires the recipient to complete a task indicated. Deadline may be indefinite but recipient should never assume.

FYA: Stands for “For Your Action”

  • This email is assigning a task to the recipient.

FYFG/FYG: Stands for “For Your Future Guidance/For Your Guidance”

  • Management is informing the recipient that new procedures will be followed very soon.

NIM: Stands for “No Internal Message”

  • Recipient is told that the email’s body is empty. All information can be found in the subject.

NNTR: Stands for “No Need to Respond”

  • Recipient does not need to reply to this email.

NWR: Stands for “Not Work Related”

  • Recipient may opt not to retrieve/open this email since it doesn’t concern office operations/matters.

PYR: Stands for “Per Your Request”

  • Sender wants to tell the recipient is responding to a previous request for files/information.

3. Body

  • Salutation

Be careful with the way you address your recipients. Remember, formality decreases whenever titles are dropped. Use titles when addressing superiors or officials.
 
 Examples:

When addressing lateral colleague/s:

Hi, Emma! | Dear Ms. Emma: | Good day, Emma. | Hello, team!

When addressing superiors/officials:

Good day, Ma’am: |Good day, esteemed colleagues: | Dear Vice President X:

  • Message

Executives who are always in marathon meetings typically do not have the luxury of time. When sending emails to these individuals, remember to Keep It Short and Simple (KISS). When sending an email explaining a particular situation, the sender must tell something about the situation in a concise manner. Try to avoid drowning the recipient in too much detail. Here’s the rule of thumb in terms of length:

Brief email = 1 paragraph short (2 sentences max)

Typical email = 2 paragraphs (maximum of 3 sentences for each paragraph)

Long email = 3–4 paragraphs long (maximum of 4 sentences for each paragraph)

Most recipients appreciate emails that are direct to the point. Remember, however, that some people are ticked off by emails that are too direct. Studies show that those who grew up in Asian cultures prefer the less direct approach when corresponding through email.

Example of an email to a lateral colleague explaining a misunderstanding:

Hi, Jane.

Let me take this opportunity to explain my side of the story. On 13 October 2012, I received an email requesting information regarding the project. Vice President X wanted my reply within 1 hour after my receipt of the email. I have to admit that I panicked for a bit as I hurriedly collated the information he wanted. As such, the data I gave him did not come to his satisfaction.

I apologize for the lapse in my better judgment. This is will not happen again.

Best,

John

Example of an email to an extremely busy executive:

Dear Vice President X:

As per your request, please find attached the files regarding employee

performance rating for your review.

Best, 
 John

  • Closing

Signifies the relationship of the sender and the recipient. This will also depend if the tone of the email is formal or informal.

Examples:

Formal Closing

Regards, | Respectfully, |Respectfully yours, | Sincerely, | Sincerely yours, | Yours faithfully, | Yours respectfully, | Yours sincerely, | Yours truly,

Informal Closing

Kind regards, | Kind thanks, | Kind wishes, | Many thanks, | Thanks, | Thank you, | Thank you for your assistance in this matter, | Thank you for your consideration, | Thank you for your recommendation, | Warm regards, | Warm wishes, | With appreciation, | With deepest sympathy, | With gratitude, | With sincere thanks, | With sympathy,

  • Signature

Contains the name of the sender, his/her designation, company logo, company name, office address, and contact details

Best Practices: 
 *Always indicate your designation

*In most companies, there is a prescribed format for the signature

*Refrain from appending your scanned signature

*Always put your name in boldface

*Never underline your name

*Always indicate your middle initial

4. Confidentiality Clause:

The UP Mail allows the use of confidentiality clause which appears at the bottom of every message sent.

1. On the upper right part of the mailbox page, click the gear icon and select Settings.

2. Under the General tab, go to the Signature section where you can enter your signature and, the same time, append the confidentiality clause. You may choose the style for your signature and clause using the textbox above it.

3. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

Although a confidentiality clause does not absolutely protect the sender, it would still be recommended by most institutions and companies, especially for those individuals dealing with sensitive information that are crucial to daily operations. The confidentiality clause will help prevent a formation of an unintended contract or any type of relationship between the sender and the recipient. This is also a way of reminding the recipient to remain cautious in handling information being transmitted via email.

Best Practice: Be precise in wording a confidentiality clause. Make sure it suits the nature of your work or it is even relevant to the usual content and recipients of your email.

Example:

Confidentiality: The contents of this e-mail message and any attachments are confidential and are intended solely for the addressee. The information may also be legally privileged. This transmission is sent in trust, for the sole purpose of delivery to the intended recipient. If you have received this transmission in error, any use, reproduction, or dissemination of this transmission is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please immediately notify the sender via e-mail or phone call and delete this message and its attachments, if any.

This is how confidentially clauses will look like at the end of your message.

5. Attachments

With UP Mail, you may attach a maximum of 25 megabytes (MB) to your message. If you’d like to send attachments that are larger than this, you can insert from Google Drive instead.

Don’t fret in case you have the tendency to forget. UP Mail will remind you to attach your files in case you forget to click on that paper clip icon at the bottom of the window. Note that this reminder will only work if the sender wrote the words “attached files” or “find attached” as part of the message.

BONUS: If you think you need to take back the message you just sent, UP Mail has this nifty option to undo sending of a message. In order for this life-saving feature to work, you need to set this first.

1. On the upper right part of the mailbox page, click the gear icon and select Settings.

2. Scroll down to “Undo Send” and click Enable.

3. Set the cancellation period (the amount of time you have to decide if you want to unsend an email).

4. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

The Undo notice usually appear on top as soon as you click Send.

Note: If you don’t select “Undo” within the time limit, your message will be sent. “Undo send” may not work if you experience connection issues.

6. Reply to vs. Reply to all

Use Reply to only if you want your main recipient to receive your response. Reply to all, on the other hand, seems to be convenient as it allows you to send your message to several people in just one click, but it must be used with caution. Avoid using Reply to all just to informally chat, reprimand, or share sensitive information with just one colleague.

More Tips on How to Send Professional Emails

  1. Always be familiar with your intended recipients. This will help your identify if you are using the appropriate salutation and tone in your message.
  2. Double check all the elements of your email before you click Send, from the recipients down to the attachments.
  3. Refrain from using emoticons or smileys, as well as contractions such as btw, omg, lol, and other variations of cyberspeak when sending formal emails.
  4. Do not use your work email to register to personal social media accounts, unless you use them for work (i.e., as admin for your official page on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  5. The way you create and respond to emails reflects your nature as a person. The same thing goes with the correspondents that circulate within your team, department, or office.
  6. When all else fails, apologize.

References:

Kallos, J. (n.d.). Business Email Etiquette Basics. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.businessemailetiquette.com/business-e-mail-etiquette-basics/

Oxford Royale Academy. (2014, May 27). How to Write Good Letters and Emails: A Guide for Those Who are New to the English Language. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/letters-emails-written-english.html

Seecharan, K. (2015, July 10). Formal Vs. Casual Emails: How To Keep The Professionalism In Your Correspondences. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2015/07/10/formal-casual-emails-professionalism-correspondences/

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2014). Effective E-mail Communication. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/effective-e-mail-communication/

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