10 Tips for E-mail Etiquette
E-mail is frequently written quickly and often poorly. The tips
that follow should help you to write e-mail that will be well
received every time.
1. Pay attention to punctuation, spelling, grammar and capitals.
how ofen do yoo receeve e-mail ritten like this!!!!!
Many e-mail messages contain poor spelling and grammar,
incorrect use of capital letters and/or poor punctuation.
Such messages look amateurish and inevitably produce a poor
impression of the sender.
2. Read the previous tip again.
Seriously, I can't overstate just how important it is to
write well. The standard of contemporary writing is quite
poor -- both on the Internet and in general use. It's easy to
find errors in most written sources. Stand out from the
crowd. Write well.
3. Your subject line should be descriptive.
Many people get dozens (or even hundreds) of e-mail messages
per day, and with so much of it being spam (i.e. unsolicited
sales messages), your message may be deleted unread if the
subject line makes it look unimportant or spamish.
Another reason to make your subject clear is to help the
recipient find it later. Many people archive months -- or
even years -- worth of e-mail. A clear subject line will make
your message easier to find.
4. Use short paragraphs and leave lines between them.
On-screen text is harder to read than printed text due to its
lower resolution. You can make things easier for your readers
by using short, clearly separated paragraphs.
You'll notice that all of the paragraphs in this article are
fairly short (typically, four or five lines) and are
separated by blank lines for clarity. You might also care to
indent the text on the first line of each paragraph.
5. Tidy up all those ">" characters.
When replying to a message (or forwarding it), most e-mail
programs put a ">" character in front of each line of the
original text, like so:
> This is the text of the original
> message that you are replying to.
Your reply goes here.
This happens each time the message is replied to (or
forwarded). The result is that some messages end up with many
">" characters at the start of each line. This causes the
line length to increase, and the text can wrap awkwardly and
become difficult to read. For example:
> > > > This is the text of the
> > > > message that you are
> > > >
If you receive a message like this, don't just forward it on.
Do everyone a favour and spend a few minutes tidying it up.
6. Don't send unsolicited attachments.
That three megabyte movie file may be the funniest thing
you've seen for a long time, but don't automatically send it
to everyone to know. Ask them first if they want to receive
it. Many folks still receive their e-mail via modem, and at
three or four kilobytes per second, your three megabyte file
is going to lock up their Internet connection for quarter of
an hour or so. Be polite and ask first.
7. Ensure that your PC is protected against viruses.
Unless you take suitable precautions (like regularly
downloading the latest definition file for your antivirus
software), you run the risk of your machine becoming virus
infected. Far worse, you run the risk of unknowingly sending
virus-infected e-mail messages to everyone in your address
book. This is not a way to win friends.
8. Don't type in ALL CAPITALS
There are two reasons for this. First, text in all capitals
is harder to read. Second, typing in all capitals is
considered a faux pas by most Internet users, and doing so
may see your message ignored.
9. Thou shalt not spam!
It doesn't matter how good a deal you've got. It doesn't
matter that you're just going to do it once. It doesn't
matter that everyone else is doing it. That doesn't make it
right for _you_ to do it. Don't send spam.
10. Wait a while before sending your message.
Proofreading your own work is a risky business. I'm a writer
and proofreader by profession, but mistakes still manage to
slip through in my own writing. The best strategy I know of
is to put my writing aside for a while then look at it
afresh. It's amazing what will often just leap out at you.
So if you have the time, wait an hour -- or even just ten
minutes -- before you press the "send" button. This will let
you read your message again and, hopefully, spot any typos
or other weaknesses before it goes out.
Armed with these ten tips, your e-mail should be well received
every time. Good luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
You'll find over 200 tips like this in Tim North's much applauded
e-book BETTER WRITING SKILLS. It's just $19.95 and comes with a
90-day, money-back guarantee. Download a sample chapter here: