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Business Email Etiquette - use these tips for most email

tip from Zia's CyberGuide, Nov 2006, permalink _ Email Tips


From Clif:

Here's a good tip on being nice when you use email. It's supposed to be for business, but most of it applies when you write to anyone.


Quote from Zia:



I am sure email tips and rules are as old as the internet but it is useful time to time to be reminded on simple rules of conduct when using business email...I got this from a colleague at work:


1. Use the TO: address line for people who you are expecting to read and most likely respond or action your message.


2. Use the CC: address line for recipients that are copied for information only but it is not necessary for them to take action. Don't overuse the CC: facility, this leads to time wasting and a lack of focus on more important work.


3. Don't use BCC: to keep others from seeing who you copied; it shows confidence when you directly CC: anyone receiving a copy. However, do use BCC: when sending to a large distribution list, so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names.


4. 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!"


5. Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose. Don't just say, "Hi!" or "From Ian". Agree on acronyms to use that quickly identify actions. For example, your team could use to mean "Action Required" or for the Monthly Status Report.


6. Be informal, not sloppy. You and your department colleagues may use commonly accepted abbreviations in e-mail, but when communicating with internal or external customers everyone should follow a standard writing protocol. Your e-mail message reflects you and your business, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply.


7. Keep messages brief and to the point. Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean that it has to be 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.


8. Summarise 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.


9. 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 colors or graphics embedded in your message.


10. Remember that your verbal tone can't be heard in 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.


11. Don't use e-mail as an excuse to avoid personal contact. Don't forget the value of face-to-face or telephone 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 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.


12. Remember that e-mail isn't private, you never know where a message may end up. 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.


13. Don't send chain letters, virus warnings, or junk mail.. If a constant stream of jokes from a friend annoys you, be honest and ask to be removed from the circulation list.


14. 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.



Zia's Cyberguide: http://ziarezvi.com