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E-mail Etiquette

Email on a Computer

The importance of E-mails in this digital age cannot be bargained. E-mails are used not only for personal communication but also for business or official correspondence. Over the years, the excessive use of E-mails as the primary means of communication has led to most people overlooking the etiquette that should be observed when composing emails. However, whether the E-mail is personal or official, there are some rules that need to be followed.

Subject Line

First and foremost, you must have a subject line. Many people receive hundreds if not thousands of E-mails on a daily basis and needless to say, they do not have the time to read all of them. Most people just skim through the unread E-mails checking for the ones that look important. This is usually done by reading the subject lines of the E-mails. In other words, if you do not have a subject line for your E-mail, your recipient might not even open it.


You should always have a salutation. This can be as simple as “Hi Pat,” A salutation shows that you care about the other party and as the saying goes, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. It also helps the recipient to know from the onset that your E-mail is not spam since you have mentioned his or her name. This is especially true if you are doing some E-mail marketing.


Using humor in E-mails might be counterproductive. Sometimes, what you consider funny might be considered offensive by another person. So unless you are very sure that the joke is not ambiguous, it is best to avoid it altogether and just stick to the main point. The rule of thumb is, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.


You should also be careful about how long your E-mail is. Most people want to spend very little time reading through their E-mails. If you write a very lengthy one, your recipient might just read a few lines from the first paragraph and ignore the rest. Try as much as possible to be concise. If the information you want to share is available online, just share the links instead of rewriting the entire Web page in an E-mail.


Ensure proper use of BCC and CC fields. The CC (Carbon Copy) is for adding addresses of other recipients of the E-mail. The BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) works just as the CC. However, when you add addresses in BCC field, the different people that receive the E-mail in the BCC field will not know who else was listed there with them. It is important to note that some E-mail interfaces may allow the BCC list of E-mail recipients to “Reply To All” of the E-mail addresses listed within the To, CC and BCC fields, thereby disclosing all of the E-mail addresses as well as the specific way the E-mail addresses were categorized. For this reason, it is often most suitable to forward a distributed E-mail to a contact instead of using the BCC field.


Last but not least, you should always reply to your E-mails. A reply is an acknowledgement to the sender that you have received the E-mail. Of course there are some exceptions such as spam or E-mails that come to your inbox as a result of a subscription on a certain website.

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