Vital tips on e-mail etiquette

email_etiq(This is the Online column written for The Southland Times)

Last week, a colleague e-mailed another colleague and received a reply that included mention of her breach e-mail etiquette in not using the recipient’s name at the start of the message.

Apart from the fact that using a name at the start of a message isn’t actually a commonly accepted e-mail etiquette requirement, there’s the question of whether or not it’s bad manners to point out someone else’s etiquette faux pas.

E-mail has made communication faster and easier. Unfortunately, that isn’t always a good thing. A few points to remember when e-mailing include:

  • Don’t forward any of those Bill Gates (or any other money-sprouting person or corporation) messages that will pay you $1 for every person you forward this to type of e-mails — they’re hoaxes.
  • The same goes for the various sappy stories of sick children’s hospital bills being paid by AOL every time you forward an e-mail (find out more about this inbox junk mail at Snopes).
  • Put your real name at the end of the message ( won’t mean a lot to the average recipient).
  • Don’t type the message entirely in capital letters because in the online world this is considered shouting. Try it on a message board and I guarantee the net police will be on your case in minutes.
  • Similarly, don’t write the whole thing in txt talk. It’s annoying.
  • Don’t put 17 exclamation points at the end of every sentence. It’s also annoying.
  • It can be hard to convey sarcasm in an e-mail and sometimes humour is lost. If you want to ensure the recipient is in on the joke, throw a smilie : ) in at the end of the sentence.
  • If you’re sending an e-mail to more than one recipient send it to yourself and use the blind carbon copy function to send it to everyone else to avoid passing on e-mail addresses.

If you want to know more about e-mail etiquette, Email Replies explains how to send effective replies and why e-mail etiquette is necessary.

Learn the Net also has some handy hints and tips on offer and Netiquette covers everything the good netizen needs to know.

My dear old mum always used to say I was as subtle as a sledgehammer and while I know not to chew my toenails at the dinner table or address the Queen as Dizzy Lizzy, there’s a whole world of rules I don’t know. Miss Manners is the chick for the job, and the Washington Post carries a selection of her columns.


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