Email Etiquette | Communication | Dawn Clement

I keep finding  excellent information that I must pass to my readers. The article below will help you to communicate better. Enjoy!

“Some Simple Rules of E-mail Etiquette” by Dawn Clement

E-mail is one of the more popular forms of modern communication. The important thing to remember here is that e-mail is, at its core, communication. If you want your e-mails to communicate for you, there are certain rules of etiquette that you should follow. Break enough rules often enough, and your e-mails will go straight into the Recycle Bin.  Since this week’s theme is e-mail, I thought it was an appropriate time to remind everyone of some simple rules of e-mail etiquette.

E-mail is not the forum for long, drawn-out prose. Reading text on a computer screen can be hard on the eyes. To get your message across, be concise and to the point. If the recipient has to scroll down, then your e-mail is probably too long. If you need to give that much detail, consider a phone call instead of e-mail. (By the same token, however, make sure you include enough detail so that your recipient knows what your message is regarding.) Also, never forget that e-mail is not private. Don’t include information in an e-mail that you do not wish to share with strangers.

An ineffective use of the “Subject” line is one of the things that annoys a lot of people. Many people sort their mail by subject line, or have messages routed to specific folders based on the subject line. Writing an appropriate subject will ensure that your e-mail is received in a timely manner. Some people even set up their mail programs to automatically delete any e-mail they receive with a blank subject line. If you’re going to go to the trouble to send someone an e-mail, make sure they receive it—use the subject line wisely!

By this point, most people know that you shouldn’t write e-mails in all capital letters because it feels like shouting. But how many realize that writing in all lower-case letters is just as bad? When you write an e-mail in all lower-case letters, you come off as uneducated or just plain lazy. Use spell checker, and read your e-mail before you send it off to check for typos and grammatical errors.  Avoid stylized fonts and colored backgrounds—they make reading an e-mail difficult, and you probably want your e-mails to actually be read.

You’ll also want to avoid sending e-mails in HTML or Rich Text format. Not everyone can view these formats, and since most spammers use HTML format, a lot of people delete those e-mails without ever opening them. Lastly, resize any pictures you are sending. Large files take up memory in people’s Inboxes, and many ISPs have e-mail size limits.

When you reply to an e-mail, try to address all issues raised. The recipient would like to know that you actually read their e-mail! If there are a lot of issues or topics covered, you can even quote the original e-mail (and edit out the full version) to carry the conversation along. This saves your reader from having to scroll up and down to find whatever you’re referring to.

Speaking of replying to e-mail—do you ever really need to hit “reply all”? Take a few seconds to edit out any addresses that don’t need to get your reply.

Did you ever stop to think that when you put multiple e-mail addresses in a message’s “To” field, you could be violating the privacy of those people? Every address in the “To” field can inadvertently be exposed to strangers who may use those addresses for their own purposes (usually spam). Be nice and use the “BCC” field instead! Put your own e-mail address in the “To” field and everyone else in the “BCC” field.

Let’s talk about forwards for a moment. I get a lot of forwarded e-mails—mostly jokes and chain letters. My least favorite type of forwarded e-mail are the chain letters that tell you to send it back to the person who sent it to you if you’re a “true friend” or some other such nonsense. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about! Most often, the recipient has to scroll down through a bunch of junk to get to the forwarded message, only to find out that they’re not interested anyway.

There are times when an e-mail really does need to be forwarded, but there are a few things to remember before you hit that “send” button. First, edit the forward; remove all other e-mail addresses, headers and commentary from any other forwarders. Next, add some sort of a personal message to the recipient telling them why you have forwarded the message. Let them know why they should bother reading the rest of the forward (especially if forwards are the majority of your communication with the recipient). Never forward an e-mail without verifying the contents first. Use a Web site such as or to investigate any questionable e-mails you plan to send to someone else (don’t forget to edit the forward and add a personal note!).

Lastly, can we all please agree to stop forwarding  jokes and chain letters? These e-mails are a waste of time and do nothing except bog down the mail servers. Use an anonymous service like to let people know that their barrage of forwards isn’t entirely welcome.

Dawn Clementis a freelance writer, domestic engineer, and mother of three with a Masters of Arts in Philosophy and over nine years experience in technical support. She wrote this article for, Computor edge. Enjoy!

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”–Plato

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