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E-mail Etiquette: Tips for Improving Online Manners

August 12th, 2008

email-etiquette.jpgNearly everyone who is connected to the Internet has an e-mail address. It’s the new way to communicate and receive what is now known as “snail mail” in a much shorter amount of time. However, due to this relative convenience, we sometimes send and receive things we probably shouldn’t. This article by April Aragam provides four tips for keeping your e-mail manners up to date.

1. Do not send too many forwards

There are few people who actually enjoy receiving these. Most of the time they are repeats going around and around, year after year. We all have many e-mails to sift through each day as it is, so please don’t make it any harder for others.

If you receive forwards and wish they would just stop, don’t be afraid to ask your friend or family member to cease and desist. Politely say that they are more than welcome to e-mail you anytime, but you’d rather not receive unnecessary forwards. People forget that when they send forwards they not only contain your e-mail address, but that of possibly hundreds of other people who have received the same message before. This is a sure-fire way to get even more e-mail that does not interest you because everyone who sees that message now has access to your e-mail address.

2. Respect privacy

There may be times when you want to send a mass e-mail, for example if you’re sharing an important piece of news. This is acceptable in itself, but you need to take precautions when doing so. As mentioned above, sharing everyone’s e-mail address with large numbers of people is not acceptable. When you do send out a mass e-mail BCC (blind carbon copy) to everyone, place yourself as the “To” recipient. This way no one sees anyone else’s e-mail address.

3. Reply in a timely manner

It’s only polite to respond to e-mails in a timely fashion, but that doesn’t mean at the exact moment after you receive it. Don’t feel that you absolutely have to reply to an e-mail within 24 hours even if the other person does. The truth is that most of us don’t have that much to say or write every single day. Most of us lead active, busy lives, so responding within a week should be quite acceptable.

4. Keep it short and sweet

Have you ever noticed that people who write short e-mails often have more interesting things to say than the people who write long, drawn out e-mails? Learn to cut the length of your messages down to the important points. You don’t have to share every detail of your day. It’s much more interesting to share a piece of news, ask a question of the other person, and leave it at that until next time. A short paragraph is also easier for your recipient to digest, since our time is so limited these days and most of us don’t have the time to read a long e-mail, let alone reply with one.

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