Encouraging Email Etiquette – Do’s and Don’ts

Since email communications are very popular, people need more tips to know how to best utilize the tool. I’ve taught people to use email applications and included basic etiquette only as a side bar on specific topics. However, I am now seeing so many poorly developed emails being sent as business communications. I now realize email etiquette is becoming more important as the use of this tool increases. As a fellow professional sending email, I feel the need to encourage better etiquette.

Everyone needs to remember email etiquette is part of business communications and there is a need to follow proper procedures for professional conduct in them as well Bad communications reflect on everyone’s professionalism. Here is a baker’s dozen list of email do’s and don’ts to improve communication etiquette knowledge.

1. Do get to the point. Be concise. No one wants to read a long email. If you’ve got a lot to say, send a memo, letter, or provide details in an attachments or web link using full URL.

2. Don’t keep people waiting for a response. Answer as soon as possible. A good time management rule to use for standard response is within 24 hours.

3. Do answer all their questions. The questions that were asked in an email sent to you and ones that your email may prompt from recipient.

4. Do not use all capitals or lowercase. CAPS give the impression of shouting and all lowercase is hard to follow plus you may appear illiterate.

5. Do make your subject line meaningful but short. The subject line often lets the viewer know if the email needs attention now or can wait until later. Readers using a phone or PDA to review email may lose valuable screen space to long subject lines.

6. Don’t use “reply to all” unless everyone really needs to see the response. To remedy this, change your email default setting so this is not selected, having to select all when needed requires an extra thinking step before sending

7. Do use the “CC” courtesy copy option sparingly. Make sure only the people that care about the message contents or attachments have to review the email.

8. Do not forward chain letters or pass on viruses. These items not only bog down mail servers but sometimes stop work production!

9. Do use spell checker and verify proper grammar and punctuation. This is just smart for any business communication. Remember also acronyms or instant messaging shorthand in email is not as clear since everyone who sees the email may not understand what is meant.

10. Don’t use email to discuss confidential information. Email is not as private as many think. You never know who can get to the computers and servers the email might pass through or how long it will be kept on them.

11. Do be careful using HTML and attachments. Not everyone wants these things. Also HTML may not be readable by some email tools. Some email servers will block HTML, large attachments, or certain file type attachments automatically anyway.

12. Do not forget to include a signature line with name, title, company and a phone number. Just because you have someone’s name and email address does not mean they remember who you are. The phone number is for them to quickly respond or ask questions if needed.

13. Always, do review your email before sending it. It is not safe to assume spell-checker caught everything; verify your message is clear and your tone is professional.

I hope you have found the thirteen do’s and don’ts helpful to improve email etiquette. Remember to use the email communication tool professionally and with care. Basic email etiquette is more important as the use of this easy communication tool increases. Just because the tool is fast, does not mean it should not be used properly. Always keep in mind that badly developed emails reflect on personal and company professionalism.

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