E-mail Etiquette

Science & Technology

Basic rules to follow when sending formal e-mails.

Respect Recipients' Time: Minimise the time your recipient spends reading your e-mail even if it means taking more time at your end to edit it.

Short or Slow Is Not Rude: It's okay if replies take a while to come and if they don't give detailed responses to all your questions.

Celebrate Clarity: Start with a subject line that clearly labels the topic and maybe even includes a status category like 'Information', 'Action' or 'Low Priority'. If your e-mail is longer than five sentences, make sure the first few lines provide the basic reason for writing. Avoid strange fonts and colours.

Do Not Use Open-ended Questions: Do not end your e-mails with words like 'Thoughts?' or questions like "How can I help?". It's best to end your mails with questions like, "Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying right out of it?!"

Slash Surplus CCs: You do not need to add CCs to your e-mail unless it is absolutely necessary for all the people on your CC list to read the mail.

Tighten the Thread: Some e-mails depend on context for their meaning, which means it's usually right to include the thread being responded to. But it's rare that a thread should extend to more than three e-mails.

Attack Attachments: Donít use graphic files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments.

Give These Gifts: If your e-mail message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by 'EOM' (End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with 'No need to respond' or 'NNTR' is also a good idea.

Cut Down on Responses: You don't need to reply to every e-mail, especially not those that are clear responses themselves.

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