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Basic Etiquette Rules For Using Email

Over the last 10 years a basic etiquette to sending email that has evolved. These rules are considered by some to be common wisdom, unfortunately this wisdom isn't as common as most would like. Following a basic etiquette is fairly simple and it makes reading and receiving lots of email easier.

  • Add a subject line to every message.
    A subject in an email is like the envelope for a letter. The subject should be short concise and to the point. Adding a subject line to each email makes it easier to read, find and filter. Adding a subject also makes it easy to quickly find a particular email from hundreds or thousands.
    Typing something in all caps is often synonymous with shouting in an email. All caps messages are harder to read. To turn off caps use the caps lock key on your keyboard, it's located next to the letter "A."
  • Reply All
    If you are emailing a small group of people (2-5) it's ok to reply to everyone but you should avoid using "reply all" with larger groups or email distribution lists that may contain many people. If your reply is directed at only a couple people don't send your message to the entire list.
  • Replying to a message
    When you reply to a message it's customary to keep the original message bellow the reply. This isn't necessary but is often helpful if you re-read your mail at a later point in time.
  • Forwarding email
    Do not forward chain letters, jokes, internet myths or other random mail. The only exception is if the person has explicitly asked for this. If people really want this type of email there are plenty of joke-a-day lists on the internet.
  • To me or to CC that is the question
    If you need the person to read your email place their name on the To line. If you don't need the person to read the email but thought they may want to know place them on the CC line. Do not assume that every CC mail will get read. People who are busy may filter their CC messages into a separate folder or not read them at all.
  • Large Attachments
    Avoid attaching large files (2 megs or larger) to an email. If possible use a link to the file or image. Large files can often get rejected by servers, if the recipient is on a slow connection this can bring their email to a halt. If you need to send a large file consider storing it on a server and then just send a link to the file.

    If you find these rules useful, print out a copy, tell a friend, post a link to your site, mail it in a letter, just don't send an email about it.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.