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EMAIL ETIQUETTE

25 QUICK RULES
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Email speeds from screen to


screen. Nevertheless, it is 6 Keep your promises. Attach documents
when you say you will, and be sure to
communication between human attach the correct versions. Test hyperlinks
beings. To be successful, it must to be sure they are correct and active.
be both efficient and considerate.
To meet the needs of your email 7 Use standard punctuation, spelling, and
capitalization to help readers understand
readers, follow these rules of your message quickly.
email etiquette. Then hope your
readers follow your example! 8 Change paragraphs when you change
ideas. One-sentence paragraphs are
acceptable.
1 Begin with a precise subject. For
example, write “Two Changes in Your Change
paragraphs
Maui Itinerary”—not “Travel Update.”
Never leave the subject blank. If you are 9 Always insert a
blank line when you
not sure what the subject is, you are not between change ideas.
ready to send a message. paragraphs. Big One-sentence
blocks of text paragraphs
intimidate are acceptable.
2 Think before you type. Decide why you
are writing and what you want your readers readers.
to do. Then organize your thoughts. Don’t Intimidation =
expect your readers to do the thinking for unread message.
you.
10 message
Press Reply to say thanks only when the
merits a thank you or the sender
3 Get to the point in the first two or three
sentences. Be clear about your purpose. needs acknowledgment that you received
Don’t keep your reader guessing. the message.

4 Insert essential information at or near


the beginning. Otherwise, your reader may
11 Although
Don’t send “You’re welcome” messages.
“You’re welcome” is expected in
press Reply (or worse, Delete) before even conversations, it is excessive in email.
seeing it.
12 you
Never criticize or blame in email. After
5 Include your name and contact infor-
mation at the end of your message and on
press Send, you have no control over
how the message is received or understood.
attachments. Without it, readers may not
recognize you as the writer, and they may
be unable to reach you by phone or fax.
13 them.
Review messages before forwarding
Be sure nothing in them will
22 and
Reply promptly, considering the urgency
importance of the message.
embarrass the writer or readers.

23 communication,
When using email as a formal
14 Don’t hide behind email. To build
customer, client, and employee relation- treat it like a For formal
ships, don’t just type—pick up the phone letter. Begin with communication,
and talk. To convey a sensitive message, a greeting (“Dear begin with a
use the telephone or meet in person for two- Ms. Chiu:”) and
greeting and
way communication. end with “Best
end with “Best
wishes” or a
wishes” or a
similar close.
15 rassing
Never include confidential or embar-
information in email. It is too easy These customs
similar close.

to forward it. convey respect.

16 easy
Use standard font sizes and colors for 24 informal
For messages within your company and
messages to external readers,
reading. Don’t use “wallpaper”
backgrounds or interesting graphics to address the reader politely in the first
dress up your sentence, like this: Liz, here are the reports. Or
messages. use one of these ways, with the message
Tell readers if following beneath: Liz, Liz: Hi, Liz, Hi
you expect Liz, Dear Liz: Dear Liz,
17 Avoid smiley
faces and clever
action from
emoticons like
them. People
read email too 25 checker,
After using your grammar and spelling
proofread. Then forgive your
this one: {:- ).
Your reader (the fast to guess at errors and those of others. Despite our
CEO? your new requests implied electronic communications, we are all
client?) may think between the human.
such symbols are lines.
unprofessional.
110Read—and
110 Tips for Sending Email That Gets
Gets Results are available as a
printed 30-page booklet and a searchable
18 them.
Tell readers if you expect action from
People read email too fast to guess at PDF for the desktop. For information, visit
requests implied between the lines. If http://syntaxtraining.com/our_products.html.
possible, include your request in the first
lines of text so they can’t miss it. Syntax Training helps
managers and employees
write better. Seminars provide
19 copying
Everyone has enough to read. Avoid
people on messages they don’t
participants with tools, tips,
strategies, skill practice,
want or need. feedback, and job aids to help
them write better, guaranteed.
For more information, visit
20 attached
Do not send a blank message with a file
unless your subject explains the http://syntaxtraining.com.
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston
attachment. Readers often delete such mes- Founder, Syntax Training
sages, especially from outside the firm.
©Syntax Training. All rights reserved.

21 Learn the preferences of people you


write to often. For example, does your
manager want background or just the facts?