Email is now a very important form of business
communication. Like a snail mail letter, however,
spelling, grammar, punctuation, and proper etiquette
are important in an email message. Let's look
at some guidelines:
- Eliminate ALL CAPS. It is considered to be
SHOUTING and rude.
- Don't request delivery or read receipts. If
you want to make sure that someone received
or read an email, pick up the phone.
- Do not overuse the high priority option.
- Email can be cold and impersonal. If you receive
an email from someone who seems upset, re-read
it several times and make sure the sender is
truly upset. If the sender is upset, consider
a telephone reply instead of an email. If you
have no phone number, assume that the sender
was not upset, and reply with a smile on your
- If you get into a send and reply cycle with
someone, break the cycle by making a phone call.
- Don't respond to an email when you are angry.
Emails can be stored on a computer and/or easily
forwarded to other people. If you wouldn't want
an email read to a jury or your mother, don't
- One of the most important parts of an email
is the subject line. Make sure it accurately
summarizes the content of the email. Think of
it as the title for your book. You wouldn't
call a book about cats, "Why I hate dogs."
It might be true, but it is not effective.
- Always use spell check and proof-read your
email. Nothing is less professional than poor
- Keep your paragraphs short and consider using
- Do not ask to recall a message sent in error.
- Do not forward chain letter, joke, virus warnings,
political, or religious emails unless the recipient
has asked to receive them in advance. Even then,
never forward emails with crass
language, racial epithets, lewd or suggestive
material. Such behavior is inappropriate, and
if it is forwarded again, it will have your
email address immortalized as part of the header.
- Do not flame. Expressing extreme anger or
emotion in an email is considered flaming.
- It is not appropriate in business emails to
use emoticons such as :) [smile] or :( [frown].
- Do not use acronyms in business emails such
as BTW (by the way), IMHO (in my humble opinion),
or ROFL (roll on floor laughing).
- Use Bcc. Bcc is short for Blind Carbon Copy.
Bcc recipients will receive a copy of the message,
but their email addresses do not show up in
the email envelope. Bcc recipients are invisible
to each other. Only recipients in the To: or
Cc: recipients show up in the envelope. To protect
every recipient's privacy, put your email address
in the To: box, and put everyone else in the
- Careful with "Reply All." Make sure
you do not hit the "Reply All" button
when you mean to simply "Reply." Reply
All sends your reply to every recipient in both
the To: and Cc: fields of the email.
James G. Lewis