Advice email

Published on January 21st, 2013 | by Peggy


Yes…There is Such a Thing as Email Etiquette

During the holidays I received a letter in the mail.  Yes, an actual handwritten letter.  A friend I hadn’t heard from in quite some time had taken a moment to sit at their desk, pick up pen and paper and write me a note.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I had received a letter in the mail, and I was tickled.  There was something so personal in the scrawl, the words took on a greater meaning than I’m sure was even intended.  I began to wonder….why?

Then I got to thinking about this whole email writing thing…and how it’s been a blessing and a curse.  I can’t be the only one who’s received a message intended for someone else or a chain letter that states I will have 7 years of bad luck if I don’t forward the content within the next 2 minutes to everyone in my contact list.  (You have no idea how much sleep I have lost over these types of things!)  How about a message riddled with spelling mistakes or one that is so emotionally charged you’re alarmed the person didn’t sit on the email for a bit until they cooled down!

Composing emails doesn’t have to be tricky, but you should always be mindful, something that, in my opinion, is often lacking.  Because of the “instant” nature of modern communication, we tend not to invest much time or care in the words we’re sending to others.  We should be more considerate of how the recipient will interpret the message we are trying to convey.  Sarcasm doesn’t send well.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Spell check was created for a reason, use it.  What does it hurt to scan your message ensuring the person at the other end understands the content.
  2. Keep emails brief and to the point. You’re not a novelist, remember that.
  3. Don’t shout. Use sentence case, not Caps Lock to compose your message.
  4. Use CC and BCC properly. Don’t use BCC to keep others from seeing who you copied, that’s a little secretive and likely to backfire at some point.  It is however a great tool if you’re sending to a long list of people and want to keep their email information private.  As for CC, only use it to send messages to people directly affected by your message. We all have enough to sift through.
  5. Don’t over-estimate the “privacy” of  email.
  6. The subject field is important. It provides the recipient “at a glance” information regarding the message, not just when they receive the message, but if they scan their emails looking for it in the future.
  7. Tone? E-mail communication can’t convey the nuances of verbal communication.  While emoticons are cutesy, don’t overdo it.  Your message will end up looking unprofessional or immature.
  8. Dear John (Dear God)! The best way to start and end an email message? A good rule of thumb is to do what feels natural to you.  Of course, approach personal and work messages with appropriate decorum.
  9. Signature? Work messages should include your name as well as title and/or contact info.  Personal ones, go crazy…the sky’s the limit.
  10. Font? If Comic Sans Serif is your go-to font, you need to set your sights a little higher!

The next time you compose a message, take the time to read it over, at least once, before hitting send.  Your recipient will thank you.




About the Author

I'm a mother, daughter, wife, blogger, advice columnist, friend and foe. I have a closet full of cute coats, a heart full of laughter and a pocket full of common sense. I love my kids, my boots and my liquor on the rocks. What else do you need to know? Have a question or comment? Contact me!

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