The most annoying phrases you can use in an email, ranked

Hazel Ramsell · 06 Jan

It’s 2020, so we should all know how to email, right?

But with so many of us heavily using email for work, there are bound to be some things that pop into our inboxes and annoy us.

To find out the ultimate email DOs & DON’Ts and which cliches fill us with rage, Perkbox Insights conducted a survey of 1,928 people.

Key findings include:

  • According to the working public, the perfect work email starts with ‘Hi’ and ends in ‘Kind Regards’.
  • ‘Just looping in…’ and ‘As per my last email’ are rated the most annoying email cliches.
  • The worst work email sign-offs are ‘love’, ‘warmly’, ‘cheers’ and ‘best’.
  • 'Hey', 'Happy Friday' and 'To whom it may concern' are the worst ways to start an email.
  • Using capital letters, kisses and emojis are the biggest email DON’Ts.
  • A huge 16% think that it’s never acceptable to use an exclamation mark in a work email, while 48% say that you can use just one.

It might be 2020 but email isn’t dead – 73% say email is their preferred method of communication at work

Although other methods may seem like they are ever on the rise – good old email is still the most popular method of communication for work. Almost ¾ of people say that this is their preferred method, with face-to-face coming in second place with 50%.

Phone is the third most popular platform, with a third of people stating that this is their preferred method and surprisingly, just 16% say instant messaging.

And only 8% think text is fit for work purposes, along with the 3% who use social media for work.

Most adults spend between 1 and 2 hours a day checking emails

1 in 5 spend between 1 and 2 hours of their workday in their inbox, 16% spend between 2 and 3, while a shocking 15% spend 5+ hours checking and sending emails each day.

Not only are we emailing a lot at work, 31% check their emails outside of work ‘every few hours’, whilst 8% check ‘every hour’ and another 8% do this ‘constantly’.
All this time in our inboxes means that there’s bound to be a few things that get on our nerves...

person checking their emails

The perfect work email starts with ‘Hi’ and ends in ‘Kind Regards’

When asking respondents to choose what they think is the best greeting for a work email, a simple route is taken. ‘Hi’ takes the top spot for the best greeting, followed by ‘Good Morning and Good Afternoon’ in second place.

The Top 5 best greetings for a work email:

  1. Hi – 49%
  2. Good morning / afternoon – 48%
  3. Hello – 21%
  4. Dear – 20%
  5. Happy [insert day]! eg Happy Friday! – 7%

Now for the worst

It seems like no greeting is a big no-no, with 53% saying that not greeting the recipient is the worst way to start an email. This is followed by the impersonal ‘To whom it may concern’ with 37% thinking this is unacceptable to use, with the friendly ‘Hey’ takes third place (28%).

The top 5 worst greetings for a work email:

  1. No greeting – 53%
  2. To whom it may concern – 37%
  3. Hey – 28%
  4. Happy [Insert day]! Eg Happy Friday – 23%
  5. Greetings – 22%

‘Kind Regards’, ‘Thanks’ and ‘Regards’ are the best ways to end an email

It seems that while ‘Kind Regards’ might get some stick, it’s still thought of as the best way to sign off an email, with 69% voting this into first place. ‘Regards’ followed in third place with 31% rating this as the best greeting, missing out to ‘Thanks’ or ‘Thanks Again’ to second place.

The top 5 best ways to sign-off an email:

  1. Kind regards – 69%
  2. Thanks or thanks again – 46%
  3. Regards – 31%
  4. Thanks in advance – 21%
  5. Best wishes – 20%

‘Love’, ‘warmly’ and ‘cheers’ are rated the worst sign-offs

Unsurprisingly for the workplace, ‘Love’ (57%) is rated the worst way to sign off an email, with ‘Warmly’ closely following (31%).

Other sign-offs rated as unsuitable are ‘Cheers’, with over a quarter (26%) stating that ir shouldn’t be used in a work email, as well as ‘Yours truly’ (24%) and ‘Best’ (12%) making the list.

Even though you might not want to choose one from this list, you better make sure you sign-off your emails. whopping 44% of people state that ‘no sign off’ is the worst.

Top 10 worst email sign offs ranked:

  1. Love – 57%
  2. No sign off – 44%
  3. Warmly – 31%
  4. Cheers – 26%
  5. Yours truly – 24%
  6. Yours faithfully – 18%
  7. Talk soon – 14%
  8. Sincerely – 12%
  9. Best – 12%
  10. All the best – 9%

So now we know the best ways to start and end an email, what gets our backs up inside an email? We asked respondents for the email cliches they just can’t stand.

Here are some to be aware of so you don’t annoy anyone in your next email…

‘Just looping in…’ and ‘As per my last email’ are the most annoying email cliches

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself from using a cliche, but there are some that you really want to avoid. Especially if you want to be on your respondents’ good side.

The most hated email cliche is ‘Just looping in..’, with a huge 37% stating that they find it annoying when the phrase is used in an email.

Looking at the rest of the list of annoying cliches, 3 of the top 5 relate to following up on something that was mentioned in a previous email. One third dislike the phrase ‘as per my last email’, followed by ‘any updates on this?’ (24%) and ‘Just checking in’ (19%). It seems we don’t like to be prompted to respond…

The most annoying email cliches:

  1. ‘Just looping in...’ – 37%
  2. ‘As per my last email’ – 33%
  3. ‘Any updates on this?’ – 24%
  4. ‘Just checking in’ – 19%
  5. ‘Confirming receipt’ / ‘confirming that I have received this’ – 16%
  6. ‘Per our conversation’ – 15%
  7. ‘Please advise’ – 8%
  8. ‘Thanks in advance’ – 7%
  9. ‘Hope you’re well’ – 6%

Using capital letters, kisses and CC’ing people who don’t need to be involved are the most annoying things you can do in an email

We also found the biggest email faux-pas, you might want to re-assess if you do any of these.

  1. Using capital letters for whole words or sentences – 67%
  2. Using kisses or ‘x’ – 65%
  3. CC’ing people who don’t need to be involved – 63%
  4. Using slang, eg ‘OMG’ – 53%
  5. Using too many exclamation marks – 52%
  6. Sending an email without proofreading – 50%
  7. Sending very long emails – 29%
  8. Using emojis – 29%
  9. Not having an email signature – 23%
  10. Double emailing – 22%
  11. Using smiley faces – 22%
  12. Using coloured fonts – 21%

16% think that it’s never acceptable to use an exclamation mark in a work email

Delving deeper into the thoughts around exclamation marks, it turns out less is more in this regard.

A huge 16% think that it’s never acceptable to use an exclamation point in a work email, whilst 48% think that just 1 is acceptable, just 24% would stretch to 2.


So, which email cliches annoy you?

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