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 (since as Barbara Corcoran's auto-reply technique and Marie Kondo's organization technique), it's still wise to cultivate your professional email writing skills to communicate more 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 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. 

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 as possible. Mark Cuban's emails are usually only three or four sentences long. 

  • Consider sending an email with a typo--on purpose. This advice comes from Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani, who believe this can help you combat perfectionist tendencies. ​

Published on: Sep 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.