Using e-mail is such a snap that sometimes we forget it is still a form of business communication, not unlike a business letter. Here are 10 rules of basic e-mail etiquette that you and your staff can follow to make sure your office communication is professional and effective.
- Write a subject line that summarizes the body of the e-mail. A good subject line allows the recipient to quickly identify important messages. For example, instead of Subject: Claim, say Subject: Additional Information for Claim No. 34544. Also remember:
- It is best to address only one subject per e-mail.
- If you change subjects during a back-and-forth round of e-mails, be sure to change the subject line to reflect that.
- Keep your messages concise. Keep messages brief and to the point, but include enough contextual information at the beginning of the e-mail for the recipient to know what the matter is about.
- Don't assume the recipient knows the background. To continue the example above, rather than simply typing in the additional information, preface it with: "Here is the additional information for Claim No. 34544 that you requested during our phone conversation yesterday."
- Keep the thread. When replying to an e-mail, use the reply option. This will keep the message in the "thread," and make it easier for the recipient to follow. However, if an e-mail has gone back and forth several times, you may want to delete extraneous parts of the thread.
- Designate priority correctly. Avoid marking an e-mail "high priority" when it is really normal priority.
- Lay out your message for readability. Use spaces and breaks between paragraphs and long sentences to make it easier on the reader.
- Use correct punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Using e-mail does not excuse you from writing properly. Use complete sentences and all those other things your English teacher taught you.
- Avoid overusing acronyms, abbreviations, and emoticons. They are okay within reason, as long you are sure the recipient will know what they mean.
- Keep download size to a minimum. Big graphics can make e-mails take a long time to load. Check with your recipient before sending a big attachment with your e-mail.
- Don't be overly familiar with the recipient. As a rule, use the title or form of address that you would use in verbal communication.
- Use the BCC field when sending bulk e-mail. If you're sending e-mail to a whole list of people, put their e-mail addresses in the BCC field. It protects your recipients from spammers and keeps the address portion of your e-mail short.
- Wait to fill in the "TO" in the e-mail address. This will keep you from accidentally sending an e-mail prematurely. Fill out "TO" last.
Content review date: 6/09/2010
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Last Updated On
May 30, 2019