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Email Etiquettes


How is it spelled? Is it email, Email, eMail, Email, e-mail, E-mail, e-Mail, E-Mail?

Answer:  Gregg, Microsoft, and AP: e-mail, Wired: email, Email Experience Council:
email is standard.

Email has quickly become a communication standard and the Internet’s most popular application.
Both the number of e-mail users and the usage rates are continuing to grow exponentially.

Correct tone and proper usage of words are the most necessary for an appropriate email.

Tone: Example One

To:    Female employees

From:  H. Honcho

Re:    Dress code

Date:  1 July 2006

Clients will be visiting next week. Halter tops and jeans will not make the right impression. It’s time you started dressing for the office instead of the beach. Leave your flip-flops at home!

Tone: Example Two

To:    All staff

From:  H. Honcho

Re:    Reminder about what to wear to work

Date:  1 July 2006

During the summer, our dress code is business casual. We think “business casual” means clothes that feel comfortable and look professional.

Men                           Women

  • khaki pants •casual pants and skirts
  • leather shoes… •leather or fabric shoes…


  • Avoid being curt, which can be misinterpreted
  • Use face-to-face or telephone if issue is sensitive
  • Once before reading try and read your mail aloud to look for ambiguity or tone issues.
  • Humour is riskier. Try avoiding the use of smiley or symbols which can be misinterpreted.


Difference: Levels of formality

Most people view email as more formal than a phone call less formal than a letter.

Example of an informal meeting request

From: Bob Anderson <[email protected]>

Date: 21 Dec 84 11:40:12 PST (Fri)

To:   randvax!anderson, randvax!gillogly,

Subject: meeting …

we need to setup a meeting bet. jim you and i — can you arange?


i’m free next wed.  thks.


Example of a formal meeting request


There will be a meeting of the FY86 planning task force in Conference Room 1 on December 28, 1984 at 2pm. The Agenda for the meeting is:

 Topic                                                     Presenter                                                           Time

Strategic Business Plan                       John Fowles                                             30 min.

Budget Forecast for FY86                  Sue Martin                                               15  ”

New Product Announcements       Peter Wilson                                                  20  ”

Action Items for 1st Qtr FY86         Jane Adamson                                            25  ”


Spelling still counts

One cannot take it casually; bad grammar, misspellings and disconnected arguments gave 81% of the survey sample “negative feelings” towards the senders.

Badly worded mail implies laziness and even disrespect.

General email etiquette rules:

  • So is over punctuating!!!!!!
  • Not using capitalization or punctuation makes e-mail hard to read
  • Text messaging abbreviations r confusing 2 ur co-workers.
  • Avoid emoticons
  • Explain Acronyms
  • Check spelling and grammar before sending
  • Avoid the use of slang or SMS language
  • Strengthen subject line and try to keep it to the Point


Think of these before you hit send:

  • Needed (Does the recipient need this to do their job)
    • Timely
    • Relevant
    • Complete


  • Appropriate
    • Compliant (e-discovery)
    • Professional
    • Inoffensive


  • Targeted
    • Limit use of Reply to all
    • Limit use of CC/BC
    • Use Distribution Lists Carefully
    • Best Channel


The Noise

  • Daily approximately 180 billion emails are sent
    • An estimated 100 billion of these emails may be unsolicited
  • Unwanted email
    • Phishing
      • Appear to be from legitimate site, businesses
      • Request personal or financial information
      • Only work if you click or respond, best to just delete
    • Spam
      • Ads and scams
      • Replying or unsubscribing validates your address for more spam
      • Do not reply, delete email
    • Virus
      • Installed software without knowledge or consent
      • Computer use monitored and controlled
      • You must click or open program to infect


  • What is the point of these E-Mails?
    • Money – #1 reason
    • Selling information on black market
      • Health Care – approximately $50 per account
      • Credit Cards – approximately $2-3 per account
    • Who is behind this?
      • Average hackers/scammers
      • Organized criminals

Examples and tips



Take Another Look Before You Send a Message

  • With email, what can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. That’s why you should be double careful with everything you write
  • Check for spelling errors
  • Avoid word misuse that spell-check won’t catch
    • too / to / two
    • there / their

Do Not Default to “Reply All“

  • Use your email program’s Reply to All feature only when your reply will be necessary to know for the original sender and all people in the original email’s To: and Cc: field

Do not use Reply to All when

  • only the original sender needs to know your reply
  • your comments will be crucial to know for the original sender and a few other recipients
    • (Use Reply in this case and add the select other recipients manually. You can copy their addresses from the original email, of course)
  • You have been a Bcc: recipient in the original message or
    • The Bcc: field should only be used to distribute emails while keeping the recipients’ addresses confidential or to copy somebody internally, as proof, when delivering an email to the outside, for example.
      If you reply to all as a Bcc: recipient you reveal your being a recipient
  • your message says “Thanks!” or “Me too!”
  • Personally, I like thank-you notices. Make thanking everybody via a group mail the exception, though. Do send personal emails expressing your gratitude instead

Keep Emails Short

  • If you do have much to write:
    • Break your message into bullet points
    • Begin each point with a concise summary or the action you want taken
    • Make sure important information is not hidden in your message’s or any bullet point’s meat
    • Start a new message for each major action you request from the recipient

Don’t Forward Hoaxes

  • Do not forward such a story unless you have investigated it yourself.
  • Check
    • Write a Good Email Subject
  • To compose the perfect email subject:Give the message’s bottom line
  • If your email comprises multiple topics, consider breaking it into multiple messages
  • Summarize the message — why you are writing and what you want to be different after the recipient has read your email — instead of describing it


Be precise

  • Include detail that allows the recipient to identify what you are talking about quickly and unambiguously
  • If your message requires the recipient’s action, say so; preferably with the first word


Leave out unnecessary words


  • Email subjects need to be concise. Skip articles, adjectives and adverbs


Let People Know Their Mail Has Been Received

  • Send a quick note back, possibly involving an informal thank-you, to acknowledge receipt even if no reply is necessary otherwise
  • Even if you do plan to reply later, an email acknowledging receipt and letting the sender know when you will get back to them can be welcome


Talk About One Subject per Email Message Only

  • Start a new message when you start writing about a new subject. Google lumps together conversations

Punctuation Matters

  • Comma, colon, hyphen and semicolon — all exist for a reason: they make it easier to understand the intended meaning of a sentence.
  • Don’t make life more difficult and possibly less interesting for the recipients of your emails


Use Acronyms Sparingly in Email

  • Use acronyms only seldom and with great care



  • When you write in all capital letters, this looks (and maybe sounds) to the recipient as if you were shouting
  • Makes reading much more difficult


Be Careful with Humor/Sarcasm in Emails

  • Humor/sarcasm is often difficult to discern in email and should be avoided when possible


  • Avoid “Me Too” Messages
  • ‘Me too’ messages do very little good when responding to a distribution list email


Avoid Forwarding Email Messages

  • Get permission from original sender and anyone else in message string before forwarding
  • Original message may not be taken in correct context


Email – Not A Forum For Complaining/Venting

  • Question: Does this message suggest a solution to a problem?
  • Question: Does this message blame or target a person/group?


Oregonian Headline – My Email Message?

  • Freedom of Information Act
  • All email you send/receive is fair game for the public


All the best!

Training consultant

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