A surprisingly helpful checklist for emails.

Today, one of my coworkers sent a word salad over email to a client and… misspelled the client’s name. She immediately panicked and followed up with a flurry of apologies. It happens.

Back in 2011, mistakes like that used to happen to me all the time. My manager back then encouraged me to build an email checklist, which was really helpful in avoiding simple mistakes and misunderstandings. It’s something I picked up from a number of articles and brilliant thinkers.

Years later, I see the email checklist is still in demand. Therefore, here I am sharing what I sent my colleagues just a few short minutes ago.

Print this out and keep it nearby at your desk. Before you hit send on your next email, review this list:

  1. How many people should be on this email chain?
  2. Did I spell their names correctly?
  3. Am I missing anyone in my distribution list?
  4. Should anyone be BCC’ed?
  5. Is a superior/investor is CC’ed? If so, what will happen if the recipient finds out?
  6. Have you checked for typos and personalization?
  7. Have you reread your email at least three times?
  8. Is there anything here I wouldn’t want my mother or boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
  9. Am I using a normal font size?
  10. Did I include my signature and contact information at the bottom?
  11. Have I included the line, “Please save the planet. Don’t print this email”? (If so, please delete the line and consider a job as a forest ranger or flight attendant).
  12. Could this email be shorter?
  13. Is there anyone copied on this email who could be left off the list?
  14. Have I attached any files that are very big? (If so, google something like ‘send big files’ and consider your options.)
  15. Have I attached any files that would work better in PDF format?
  16. Am I forwarding someone else’s mail? (If so, will they be happy when they find out?)
  17. Am I forwarding something about religion (mine or someone else’s)? (If so, delete).
  18. Did I hit ‘reply all’? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
  19. Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, “yes,” is not helpful).
  20. Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why?
  21. Does the subject line make it easy to understand what’s to come and likely it will get filed properly?
  22. If I had to pay to send this email, would I?

For those of you in the email marketing game, try this one:

  1. Is your send date and time chosen correctly on the calendar?
  2. Does the timing conflict with any other sends? If so, do you need to plan any other list suppressions?
  3. Have you checked for typos and personalization?
  4. Have you updated your preheader? If so, did you check for typos?
  5. Did you include the physical address of your business?
  6. Are all of your images properly linked and is ALT text included?
  7. Are your call-to-action buttons linked correctly?
  8. Do you need to exclude any portions of your list?
  9. Does your subscriber list have all of the fields you need?
  10. Have you sent yourself a test email?
  11. Have you completed a Full Inbox Test of all email clients?
  12. Are you A/B testing the campaign?