E-mail Etiquette

As e-mail as being used more in schools and in the business world, it is important to consider some points in making e-mail a useful tool.

For my classes, please review my page, Electronic Communication with Professor, which offer some suggestions for efficiently communicating with me.

Some suggestions about appropriate e-mail use:

  1. E-mail is the common way that we communicate today; it is critical that you check e-mail on a regular basis - that means a minimum of once a day - but several times a day is preferred.

  2. Many of us have several e-mail accounts - if you give out a specific e-mail address to someone, it is incumbent on you to check that account when you check all of your accounts.

  3. Be aware of the tone of your e-mail - how would you feel if you received your e-mail?  Avoid the use of any kind of offensive or harassing language.

  4. Do not send e-mail attachments without explanation in the body of the e-mail.

  5. Do not write your e-mail when you are angry; it is better to wait until you are calm.

  6. Have someone read critical e-mails to check spelling errors, tone, etc.  Be sure to check spelling and grammar before sending.

  7. Remove the recipient's name from the e-mail to avoid accidentally hitting the SEND button before you are ready.

  8. Using BCC is considered to be unethical by many people and its use should be avoided.

  9. Start your e-mail with a salutation - Dear ..., Good morning, etc.

  10. Use a subject line that is appropriate to the content - many e-mail programs will automatically put e-mails without a subject into the junk folder; if you are forwarding something, make sure the subject fits.

  11. If you "re-use" an e-mail sent to you by someone, change the subject line.

  12. Be careful that you do not hit REPLY TO ALL if it is intended to go to only one person.  It is best to avoid REPLY TO ALL.

  13. E-mail is not the same as texting - avoid the use of "UR" for example.

  14. Add a signature line to your e-mail; avoid making the signature line longer than 4 or 5 lines.

  15. Ask for permission from the sender before you forward e-mails and/or attachments.

  16. Avoid the use of CC yourself - some people think it is a proof of delivery - all it does is prove that you sent it - which the original e-mail in your sent box does - and it does NOT prove that the recipient received it.

  17. Avoid using ALL capital letters; the only exception is if you wish to emphasis a word because you are using a text only e-mail client.

  18. Do not put confidential information into an e-mail - e-mail is NOT private; this includes things like social security numbers, credit card account numbers, student grades, etc.

  19. Respond in an appropriate timeline - generally, e-mail should be acknowledged within 24 hours.  If you are unable to provide an answer, at least acknowledge receipt.

  20. Use auto-reply if out of the office for an extended period of time; be sure to turn it off after you return.

  21. Be aware that most businesses consider any e-mail sent from work or work computers to be the property of the company; in some cases, there are rules against using company technology for private purposes and consequences for violations can be severe.

  22. Please be sure to acknowledge e-mails - for example, if you receive an e-mail confirming a request that you made, it is appropriate to thank the person.

For some general information about e-mail etiquette, the following suggestions are offered:

H. Jurgen Combs
updated on Wednesday, November 08, 2017