E-Mail Etiquettes - Basics

Comm Skills
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 Electronic Mail does not need any introduction to highlight the importance it has in our communication culture. From the Internet to the Web, from simple computers to advanced notebooks, from basic phones to modern-day smartphones- e-mail has travelled a lot.

It is well known that Mobile Phones have undermined the use of 'traditional' mailboxes. More than 50% of e-mails are opened on mobile. There has been a big fall in the desktop/laptop usage of gmail.com. Users have rather shifted to Smartphone Apps.

We need to know that e-mail is present and is used in a multi-dimensional way. These platforms, devices on which we use e-mails, ask for specified guidelines to master the skills of Good E-mailing.

  • Computers and Laptops (The Big Screen Devices)
  • The Tablets, Semi-Laptop, Desktop Screen Gadgets
  • Smart Phones and their Small Screen E-mailing
  • Publically Available E-mail Account Making
  • Company/Employer/Personal Website E-mail Accounts
  • Microsoft Outlook                             

Based on the above aspects and 'reasons', the established etiquettes have to be discussed with some guidelines and suggestions.

We start with the basic e-mail etiquettes here and will move on to specific guidelines for Smart Phones and other dimensions of E-mail usage.

Fast, cheap, and easy to use, e-mail is quickly becoming the most popular form of business communication, particularly for messages sent within a company. Aside from the convenience of writing e-mail messages, many people prefer e-mail over letters and memos because of its informality. A loose, friendly tone and approach are not only acceptable but usually preferred in e-mail correspondence.

Keep in mind, though, that the informal nature of e-mail should not be an excuse for careless work. Particularly when sending a message to a superior within your company or to a new contact or client outside of it, you should choose your language precisely and structure your e-mail correspondence to give your message the greatest impact. As with any correspondence, you should always proofread all e-mail messages for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes before sending them.

Microsoft Office teaches:

  1. Be informal, not sloppy. Your colleagues may use commonly accepted abbreviations in an e-mail, but when communicating with external customers, everyone should follow standard writing protocol. Your e-mail message reflects you and your company, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply.
  2. Keep messages brief and to the point. Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean that it has to be quite long. Nothing is more frustrating than wading through an e-mail message that is twice as long as necessary. Concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.
  3. Use sentence case. USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING. Using all lowercase letters looks lazy. For emphasis, use asterisks or bold formatting to emphasize important words. Do not, however, use a lot of colours or graphics embedded in your message, because not everyone uses an e-mail program that can display them.
  4. Use the blind copy and courtesy copy appropriately. Don't use BCC to keep others from seeing who you copied; it shows confidence when you directly CC anyone receiving a copy. Do use BCC, however, when sending to a large distribution list, so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names. Be cautious with your use of CC; overuse simply clutters inboxes. Copy only people who are directly involved.
  5. Don't use e-mail as an excuse to avoid personal contact. Don't forget the value of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication. E-mail communication isn't appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages. Think of the times you've heard someone in the office indignantly say, "Well, I sent you an e-mail." If you have a problem with someone, speak with that person directly. Don't use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.
  6. Remember that e-mail isn't private. I've seen people fired for using e-mail inappropriately. E-mail is considered company property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law. Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that e-mail over the Internet is not secure. Never put in an e-mail message anything that you wouldn't put on a postcard. Remember that e-mail can be forwarded, so unintended audiences may see what you've written. You might also inadvertently send something to the wrong party, so always keep the content professional to avoid embarrassment.
  7. Be sparing with group e-mail. Send group e-mail only when it's useful to every recipient. Use the "reply all" button only when compiling results requiring collective input and only if you have something to add. Recipients get quite annoyed to open an e-mail that says only "Me too!"
  8. Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose. Don't just say, "Hi!" or "From Laura." Agree on acronyms to use that quickly identify actions. For example, your team could use <AR> to mean "Action Required" or <MSR> for the Monthly Status Report. It's also a good practice to include the word "Long" in the subject field, if necessary so that the recipient knows that the message will take time to read.
  9. Don't send chain letters, virus warnings, or junk mail. Always check a reputable antivirus Web site or your IT department before sending out an alarm. If a constant stream of jokes from a friend annoys you, be honest and ask to be removed from the list. Direct personal e-mail to your home e-mail account.
  10. Remember that your tone can't be heard in an e-mail. Have you ever attempted sarcasm in an e-mail, and the recipient took it the wrong way? E-mail communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication. In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons but use them sparingly so that you don't appear unprofessional. Also, don't assume that using a smiley will diffuse a difficult message.
  11. Use a signature that includes contact information. To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your contact information, including your mailing address, Web site, and phone numbers.
  12. Summarize long discussions. Scrolling through pages of replies to understand a discussion is annoying. Instead of continuing to forward a message string, take a minute to summarize it for your reader. You could even highlight or quote the relevant passage, then include your response. Some words of caution:
  13. If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you've received, do not change the wording.
  14. If you want to re-post to a group a message that you received individually, ask the author for permission first.
  15. Give proper attribution.

"One must write and rewrite till one writes it right." : A.R. Ammons

And he said right! But we must know that the drafting and corrections should be done in the mind and writing precisely correct e-mails should become an art for us.


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About the Author
Author: Parveen Sharma Website: https://linktr.ee/teacherparv
'You Create Yourself' is the belief that drives the EklavyaParv! It is a Life Long Learning Mission with firm belief in the trilogy of Enhance-Empower-Encourage. We share learning contents on Communication Skills, EdTech, Life Skills, Blended & Innovative Learning and Insights about Education. Parveen is an EdTech Evangelist and has been working in the field of Innovation-driven Education for more than a decade. He writes and delivers training on EduSoMedia, E-Learning, OERs, MOOCs, EdTech, ICT, Blended and Flipped Learning, Academic Intervention, Classroom Makeover, Employability Enhancement, EdTech and Teacher-Student Learning. EklavyaParv is the celebration of his belief in the Learning Spirit of Mankind! Currently he is working at Amity University in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.