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10 Quick Email Etiquette Tips

Netiquette: Short for network etiquette, is the code of conduct regarding what is considered acceptable online behavior.

This article covers the top ten points to take into consideration when communicating through business email with clients and colleagues. For most cases, write any business email as if you were writing on letterhead or talking face to face with the person. You want to present yourself in a fully respectful, professional manner.

  • Your email should be free of spelling errors, use full sentence structure, and use proper grammar. Try to include a greeting (Hi, Hello, etc.) and have a proper sign off (Thank you, Sincerely, etc.) at the bottom. If your email program does not have a built-in spell checker, you can always do a copy/paste in Word for long letters and use that one. Sometimes I just need to check the spelling of a single word, so I use Google as a spell checker buy searching for the word and see if it corrects me.
  • DO NOT USE ALL CAPS. Use proper mixed case letters and proper punctuation as though you were typing on letterhead or sending postal mail. When you use all capitol letters, IT LOOKS AS IF YOU’RE SHOUTING. While this is sometimes tolerated more in the subject line of the email, it should never be used throughout the entire body of the message.
  • Sometimes the Subject line can determine if your email will ever be opened in the first place. If this is your first contact with a person, be sure to have a concise subject of your email that clearly indicates what the topic of the email is. Misspellings, all capitols or all small case can lend to the impression you may be spammer. Also, never leave the subject line blank, I am sure there are at least one or two words you can throw in there to describe the contents or your email.
  • If you are responding to a business request, be sure to respond by the next business day at the very latest. If you are not able to fill the request at that time, you should at least send a response back letting them know that you did in fact receive their request and you will be sending more information soon. The keyword there is soon.
  • When addressing an email to a large group of people, you should list their email addresses in the BCC: (blind carbon copy) instead of the TO: field as a courtesy. When you do this, each recipient will get a copy of the email but they will not be able to see the other addresses you sent to. This protects the privacy of your recipients from both each other, and also spammers.
  • Refrain from sending chain letters, virus warnings, and jokes via electronic mail. Chain letters are also a good source of spam and are technically forbidden on the Internet. In the end, these emails just end up using valuable space in the recipient’s inbox. Also, apply common sense “reality checks” before assuming one of these messages are even valid in the first place.
  • Make sure that any message you respond to was actually addressed to you. You might have been CC’d (carbon copied) rather than the primary recipient and a response from you may not necessarily be required.
  • In order to ensure that people know who you are, be sure to include at least a line or two at the end of your message that includes your name and contact information. Some email programs let you create a file ahead of time and add it to the end of your messages. This signature file, or sig, acts as your business card. Your signature file should not exceed 4-5 lines of information. Having an excessive signature may give the impression that you are egocentric.
  • If you ever receive a nasty email from somebody, try not to respond to it right away, if at all. People are very bold and overly critical on the other side of this screen at times. Once you hit the Send button, there is no going back. Sending heated or emotional messages is called flaming. If you happen to receive one of these flame emails, take your time to determine if the email warrants a response or if the person was just trying to get a rise out of you. This is also sometimes referred to as trolling.
  • Finally, If you need to send a large attachment, it is good practice to compress or zip the files before sending them. You should contact the recipient ahead of time and find out if there is a limit to the attachment size they are allowed to receive. Also ask them what a good time would be to send the large attachment. One last point on the subject of attachments, make sure the recipient has the proper program to view your file you are sending. While everyone can probably read a standard JPG Photo or PDF file, not everyone has the latest version of PowerPoint or Word installed on their computer.

This list is in no way the be-all and end-all to Netiquette, these are just the main ten points that come to my mind with proper email techniques.  For a much longer and also more descriptive list of tips, visit NetManners.com where there is much better coverage on this subject.

About the author

RJ Ponzio

RJ founded Shore Web Tech LLC in 2011. The mission of Shore Web Tech (SWT) is to help small and medium local businesses take advantage of today's affordable technology solutions. RJ currently holds Google's "AdWords Qualified Individual" certification.

2 comments

  1. Gary Genty

    RJ , Good artical, I liked the helpful hints. We all need help with our e-mails. Keep up the good work. Thank you.

    1. Jaroslaw

      Hi RJ Ponzio! Thank you for your website!

      Hi, Gary!
      Thank you for your comment! Cause it’s the only place I found you. ))) I have account in twitter at least
      I want to be the first man who watch your film about motivation in great goals. Please, let people know where can they see your achievements! :)

      Sincerely yours, Jaroslaw Martinow (Norr_Skog)

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