How To Practice Email Etiquette

  1. Start to finish.
    • Always begin each message with a cordial greeting, such as dear or hello, or at very least the person's name.
    • Never ramble on and on.  Be as concise, specific, and brief as possible.
    • Remember to sign your messages with both your first and last name and to configure an auto "signature" into your system which will contain all important contact information (including your full name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and a repeat of your email address).

  2. Proofread messages.
    • Always re-read messages before sending. Read to reveal improper grammar, incorrect use of words, and read for the sound and tone of your words.
    • Never transmit messages the moment you write them. Do hold messages in an "outbox" for final review and spell-check before pressing the final "send" button.
    • Remember to configure your system to automatically activate spell-check as your final action before transmitting all messages.

  3. Subject line.
    • Always say something in the subject line.  Spam filters often use this as an indicator to delete a message before entering a system.
    • Never leave it blank.
    • Remember subject lines are to be quick attention grabbing words that frame what you want to convey in the message area.

  4. Responding and replying.
    • Always make reference to the topic of discussion in your message.  There is nothing more irritating than to receive a cryptic reply, with no opening greeting, no name at the end, and no previous message attached.  All that shows is an o.k. ... i agree ... go for it! ... And the like.  Do take time to add one or two words that will help the reader zero in on the specific topic of discussion.
    • Never use a previous message and address to open a new discussion, without first deleting all previous messages, especially the old subject line, and inserting a new subject.
    • Remember to make every effort to respond to all messages within 24 to 48 hours, no different than telephone calls.

  5. Forwarding messages.
    • Always use the copy and paste functions when forwarding messages to a new batch of people who do not all know each other.
    • Never leave previous addresses and information attached to your new message.  Do delete them before forwarding.
    • Remember it is not appropriate to forward addresses and information to individuals who may not want their addresses shared without their knowledge and permission.

  6. Batch messages.
    • Always be sensitive to how you choose to send your batch messages.  Using the "to" feature should not be your first and only method used.  Your first thought should be to use the "bcc" feature, unless you are sure everyone on your mailing list know each other and should see all names to whom it was sent.
    • Never show everyone's email address, unless everyone on the list know each other, without exception.
    • Remember when responding to batch messages to only respond to those individuals who truly need to see your response.

  7. Formats and fonts.
    • Always be mindful of any special fonts and formats used in any message.  This often causes the recipient to view lines of unwanted codes and other jibber.
    • Never use all caps, as it appears as though you are shouting, nor use all lowercase letters.  This shows your lack of care and interest to type properly.
    • Remember to know your e-pals.  As much as technology has advanced, Macs and PCs still do not communicate 100% of the time.

  8. Email tone.
    • Always use proper and courtesy language and grammar, in whole, complete sentences.  Avoid the use of abbreviations, slang, and jargon.
    • Never use email to convey personal information best left to being shared in person or by telephone.
    • Remember e-mail is a terrific, quick, and easy way to communicate. Nevertheless, we must never forget to use the same care and courtesy in our writings as we would when speaking to someone in person.


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