Not unlike table manners, we must follow some basic rules to be polite and considerate of others when using email.
- Enter an appropriate SUBJECT to help the recipients of your email quickly identify its purpose and importance. If you change the subject when you reply to a message, change the subject line too.
- Proof-read your email to ensure accurate communication and to avoid misunderstandings conveyed by your tone and style. Email should be less formal than an essay, but more accurate and thoughtful than a hurried phone conversation.
- Take time to read an email carefully so that you don't misread it and cause confusion when you reply.
- Reply within 24 hours, even if just to acknowledge receipt, so that the sender knows you received it and that you're not purposely ignoring them.
- Use appropriate salutation and closing as a matter of respect for the recipient. "Hi ..." is the common email salutation instead of the overly formal and often pretentious "Dear ...".
- Use emoticons appropriately, such as :) or ;) to indicate your mood and to avoid misunderstandings.
- Don't press "Send" when upset. If you're involved in a heated email exchange, wait 24 hours to get perspective before replying.
- Don't email anything you wouldn't be able to say in person. If your email has an angry, nasty or rude tone, test yourself by asking whether you could read the email to the recipient in person.
- Never send unsolicited emails. Unless you personally know the recipient and believe your email is welcome, or have another legitimate connection to the recipient, don't send them email.
- Use BCC: to protect your contacts' privacy when sending an "announcement" type email to multiple personal contacts.
- Use Reply-To-All when appropriate, so that all recipients of the original message benefit from your reply.
- Keep your address book current so you don't accidentally select your friend's old address and send your message to his obsolete email account.
- Delete irrelevant quoted text when replying to minimize clutter and to make it easier to identify the context of your response.
- Don't attach large files beyond 200-500kb since it may cause problems for your recipient either due to mailbox limitations or bandwith limitations on their internet. Use http://picasa.google.com/ or
http://www.sendspace.com to share large files.
- Don't use long email signatures for regular correspondence. It clutters your email and subsequent responses unnecessarily without adding any helpful information.