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What is email etiquette?

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Did I REALLY just send that email?
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If you don't know what email etiquette is you need to find out now!

"Etiquette" seems to be an antiquated notion, but it shouldn't be. When adhering to etiquette someone conducts or proceeds in a fashion showing he has good breeding, is polite and has good manners. The people on The Jerry Springer Show do not abide by the rules of protocol. They don't even come close.

Etiquette applies to all facets of life including using the Internet and sending emails. What exactly is email etiquette?

Email has become the foremost form of communicating in business. The electronic messages you send reflect upon you and the company you are working for. Breaching the rules of email etiquette can get you in hot water, even fired. Try to avoid this outcome by following the rules:


  • In the subject area (particularly if you are sending a business email) type in a topic. If, for example, you are inquiring about an order, type in, "Questions about order # 13698."
  • Do not use all CAPs. This makes it appear as though you are yelling.
  • IRL (in real life) the tone of your voice can be heard by the person you are talking to. This is not true in an electronic message. Because these messages cannot express the subtleties of verbal communication be careful about attempted derision and how you word things. The recipient can easily misinterpret the message.

  • In business, keep your electronic message succinct and to the point. People are busy and hate wading through messages that are longer than need be.
  • If you have received a mass email and want to respond to the sender but not to the entire group, do NOT hit "reply to all." Many people have made the this horrible mistake and faced dire and embarrassing consequences. Click on 'reply.' The response goes to the sender, not to everyone else.
  • When copying an electronic message, put the names of those copied to in the CC box. This shows who all received the message. BCC means blind copy. The recipient cannot see who else received the message. Copying messages is sometimes necessary but you must be careful. If you are blind copying to others and the recipient doesn't know but finds out this can be construed as underhanded.
  • Your messages can always be forwarded. Be watchful of what you write.
  • Be careful about using abbreviations. Not everyone understands them.
  • A no-no is the preemptive auto response that says something to the effect of, "Thank you for your email. Due to the overwhelming number of emails I receive I will respond when it is convenient." Now that is rude.
  • Be careful whom you send the message to. People inadvertently send electronic messages to the wrong party all the time, with embarrassing consequences and sometimes serious ramifications. If you have two "Saras" in your address book you may want to switch up their names. Sara Jones becomes Jones Sara. When you type in her name type Jones first rather than Sara. Sara Smith remains Sara Smith. When you type in her name, start with Sara.
  • Keep in mind that people say things in electronic messages they would never say in person. Perhaps this is the result of a disconnect of some sort. The sender is not looking the other person straight in the face when he says (writes) what he does so he behaves differently. Be respectful at all times. Don't say something in a message that you would never say in person.
  • The best way to know if you are adhering to email etiquette is to pretend you received the message you just sent. How would you feel and react upon receipt? Would it make you madder than a hornet? Would it make you cry? Would it make you happy? Some consider this the gold rule of electronic mail. Think about what you are saying and how you are saying it before sending. If your goal is to be professional and not hurt or embarrass someone then make sure you haven't done so in your message.

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