The five most annoying things you can do in an email

Life without email would be terrible. How would we work? Keep in touch with far-flung friends? Find that latest link to a video of a baby panda sneezing?

On the other hand, who hasn’t at some point found themselves frothing in impotent rage and gripping the mouse until their knuckles turn white, because their correspondent has inadvertently trampled on their e-chilles’ heel?

Our Twitter poll suggests you have as many reasons to hate email as to love it. As the old saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time; but avoiding these top five infuriating habits should tip the balance in the direction of those sneezing baby pandas. Aww.

Here are the top five pet hates:

1) CC this!

Careless use of the CC (carbon copy) function comes in at number one as the most hated e-habit. So, don’t CC someone in place of asking them directly to do something. Don’t CC rather than BCC (blind carbon copy) people who may not want their email address sharing with your entire mailing list. And do know that CCing their boss, their boss’s boss, and your boss on one message may well be seen as a declaration of war.

2) 2 bsy 4 wrds

Yes, everyone is too busy for words nowadays. Well, too busy for whole words. One can only imagine the increased productivity enjoyed by those who save valuable seconds with their streamlined signoffs: ‘KR’, ‘BW’ (‘Kind regards’; ‘Best wishes’) and ‘Rgds’. Let alone ‘thx’ for ‘thanks’. Abbreviate at your own risk, though: as one tweeter put it, ‘the effect is ineptly disguised indifference’.

3) Have you read it yet? How about now?

No one likes to be checked up on. Requesting a read receipt will win you no friends, and won’t necessarily have any positive effect, given the anguish they cause (one person reported they made him ‘feel violated’). And don’t try to pretend you’ve never pressed the ‘don’t send receipt’ button simply out of spite.


Yep, using all capital letters rankles – it’s just unnecessary to inflict such an optical assault. And coupling CAPS with emphatic exclamation marks in the hope of rousing your reader into action is more likely to get them rolling their eyes. ‘As if that will somehow make it seem more urgent and important!!!!!!’ one Tweeter quipped.

5) I dont need to punctuate in email right

At the other end of the spectrum is ‘the assumption that all forms of punctuation (and the capital letters that follow some of them) aren’t required’. Not only do you risk presenting yourself as someone who doesn’t give two tweets about work/grammar/being understood, but you’re much more likely to be ambiguous and confusing.

And here, from the horse’s mouth, is what our Tweeters had to say. To tell us what you think, join in with future Twitter polls and keep up to date with our writing tips, follow @EmphasisWriting and our CEO @Robert ­_Ashton.


outbounded Ben Johnson

Being cc’d into another’s email conversation
just to be asked to do something. #emailhates

SnoozeInBrief Tom

Leaving people on the recipients list
in a group exchange after it’s become apparent they’re not involved. #emailhates

peppermintesse peppermint s.

Smiley faces in (supposedly)
professional contact emails. #emailhates

beng Ben Griffiths

oh, it has to be: I’ve sent you this
email but, look, I’ve also cc’ed your boss and your boss’s boss and my boss.

zoelouwhite Zoë White

Dear “name of business”. And
caps, and exclamation marks, and read receipts… #emailhates

kirsty_mcewen Kirsty M

‘Kind regards’ drives me slightly mad
because it always seems as if the person doesn’t give a monkey’s about the

SnoozeInBrief Tom Freeman

Abbreviating “Kind regards”
to “KR” or “Best wishes” to “BW”. The effect is
ineptly disguised indifference. #emailhates

outbounded Ben Johnson

Unreadable typefaces and colours, e.g.
pink italic Comic Sans. #emailhates

joelmgunter Joel Gunter

The assumption that all forms of
punctuation (and the capital letters that follow some of them) aren’t required. #emailhates

jonhew Jonathan Hewett

Oh, you mean I could have used Bcc and
not shared your email address with hundreds of other people #emailhates

cathackforth Cat Hackforth

Signing off with “Best”. Is
it really that much effort to write “All the best” or “Best

CarinMarais Carin Marais

top email hate: Using only CAPS and
many exclamation marks, as if that will somehow make it seem more urgent and

sirliamkelly Liam Kelly

“Thanks in advance” – lazy
and presumptuous!

MrSamWilson Sam Wilson

Read receipts, especially on something
like a newsletter or announcement. It makes me feel violated

JamboTheJourno Jamie Smith

management speak bollocks like “going forward”. Oh and “hope
you’re well” – as if you care!

outbounded Ben Johnson

emails with other people cc’d in for public embarrassment effect!  #emailhates

StanCarey Stan Carey

I’m more
amused than peeved by this, but “Rgds” = “My time is too
valuable to bother with those other three letters.”

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