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Note: Information contained in archived ITSS newsletter articles was current at the time of publication, but may not reflect the present state of technology or ITSS.

March 2003

eMail Etiquette Tips

Electronic mail can be a powerful and useful communication tool. Here are a few tips to help you make the best of email.

  • When sending email, use a short, descriptive subject line to help the recipient when viewing the inbox. People should be able to tell from your subject line what the message is about. "Meeting" or "Announcement" are not good subject lines.
  • Save attachments for formal documents where formatting is important. Short messages and memos are better sent using plain text in the body of the message. Your recipients will appreciate not having to go through the extra steps necessary to read an attachment.
  • When responding to a message from someone else, include enough of the original message in your response to make it clear to the responder what issue you are addressing. However, don't quote an entire long message just to add a short response at the end. You may want to add your response to the top of the message so that people don't have to scroll down to find it.
  • If you are delivering complicated or technical information, consider giving a high-level overview in the first paragraph before launching into the details.
  • Be concise. Long repetitious messages are likely to be skipped or discounted by the recipient.
  • Always double-check your recipient list. When responding to a message that has gone to a large group, decide whether your response really needs to go back to the entire list or whether it can simply go to the sender. Then make sure your response goes where you intend. For example, if a request for schedule information comes from a meeting scheduler to a group, the entire group does not need to know everyone else's schedule. Respond to the scheduler only.
  • If you get a request from someone and you know you cannot take immediate action, let the requester know when to expect a response.
  • Don't forward virus hoaxes and chain letters. Many messages warning of viruses are in fact hoaxes. By sending them on to everyone you know, you propagate misinformation and clog up networks. If you want to check on a suspicious message, see our Hoaxes and Urban Legends web site.

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Last modified on 03/07/03
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