Business Email Etiquette – 5Cs Checklist

workoutWorkout Objective:   Get your emails noticed, improve response rate, and minimize misunderstanding.
Prerequisite: Read the article: 5Cs to Effective Email Communication.
Recommended Frequency: Use it for all important email communication until it becomes second nature.
Workout steps:

  • This checklist is the most relevant to use on the first email you would send to a person regarding a new topic.
  • Write a draft first.
  • Use this checklist to review your draft and update it according to its suggestions.
  • Once complete, add a comment below about your experience.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments section


Today, I want to provide you with a checklist on the etiquette for each of the “5Cs” to Effective Email Communication.  You can use it to review any important work email to make sure it can be the most effective.

5Cs Business Email Etiquette
Captures attention
  • Is your subject line 4-8 words long?
  • Can the email receiver quickly understand what your email is about from the subject line?
  • Did you convey what you want in the first few sentences of the email? I suggest asking first, then providing context.
  • If it’s a long email, did you bold key areas that the receiver should focus on?
  • Have you provided enough context/background information in the email for the receiver to understand it without referring to a separate document, conversation, or other emails that are not attached?
  • Did you include any abbreviations or acronyms in the email?  Are you sure that the audience understands your abbreviations or acronyms?
Clear and concise
  • Are your sentences short and to the point?  Sentences that have more than 15 words are probably too long.
  • Is there a good logical flow to your email? 
  • Is your grammar correct in all sentences?
  • Did you provide a specific time frame of when you would like a response?
  • Did you provide information about how you will follow up if you don’t get a response?
  • Did you use bullets to make it easy for anyone to scan your email and understand quickly what you need and why?
Concrete suggestions
  • Is your request open-ended?  If so, did you include possible options to the open-ended question?
  • Did you make sure your request in the email does not dump the issue on the receiver to solve?  Be sure you are highlighting the issue and offering solutions while asking for their feedback. 
  • Did you address the email receiver by name?
  • Did you open the email with a courteous sentence?
  • Did you conclude the email with at least one pleasantry sentence (e.g., have a great weekend, or best regards)?
  • Did you sign your name in addition to having a standard signature at the end?

It’s a draft checklist, so I would love to hear your comments about what may be missing.

Your comments: Is there anything else you would add? Add your comments below and let’s have a discussion.

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

4 thoughts on “Business Email Etiquette – 5Cs Checklist

  1. vikas verma

    That’s a very structured approach you have shared there. I also wanted to know if you can add something related to bullets or font sizes or font styles. Which ones are the most sought after? And why?

  2. Savio Rebello


    Thanks for the above checklist.
    A couple of questions; what do you mean by Logical flow…..and I would also like to improve my grammar. Is there an additional information I can have where I can improve my grammar.

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Savio, Thanks for your questions. Logical flow – means your email is easy to read and understand for the receiver. There is a natural transition and it answers the key questions the receiver would want to know about your email
      a) What do you need high level and in detail?
      b) Why do you need it?
      c) What is the larger context of why you need it?
      d) When do you need it?

      As for how to improve your grammar, this one is harder for me to advise as I am still working on it. 🙂 Some tips are:
      1) know where you commonly make grammar mistakes. I typically have tense issues or plural and singular issues. If you are not sure, ask someone to review an email or two for you and tell you where you make your mistakes.
      2) make time after you wrote a draft of your email to review it again just for grammar correction. Look for things you know you are not good at.
      3) Read some grammar books. This one seems to have good reviews, although I haven’t read it personally.

      Hope this helps. feel free to ask me more questions 🙂 Best wishes

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