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The How-to Lounge: E-Mail Etiquette

The digital age has completely taken over and e-mail has become many people's main way of communication. While it is a great way to correspond, it is very easy to misconstrue voice, tone, and implication when you can't look or hear the person on the other end of the message. In this How-to Lounge, I am going to give you some pointers to help avoid misinterpreting e-mails.

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  • Be concise and to the point. You don't want your e-mails to go on too long or else they won't be read. On the flip side, don't be too short or your message could be perceived as rude or impolite
  • If you are returning an e-mail, make sure you answer all the questions being asked, and ask the appropriate questions if need be
  • Always be sure to check your spelling and punctuation. Carelessness is very unprofessional
  • While it is impossible to promptly answer every e-mail, all messages should be returned within 24 hours
  • For business e-mails, address your recipient and sign accordingly
  • Always include the original message in a response. Oftentimes it is crucial to read the entire e-mail chain
  • Be sure to re-read your message before sending and avoid using capital letters as it will translate as yelling
  • Know your audience and avoid using punctuation, web lingo and emoticons to those who will not understand what you are trying to say
  • Do not abuse reply all or blind copying. People are inundated with e-mails, so the least amount of messages they receive, the more inclined they will be to reply in a timely manor
  • Remember that e-mail is never 100% private. While it is fun to flirt, gossip and make plans over e-mail, be aware that your correspondence is considered company property

It's hard to believe we were once, not that long ago, without e-mails, so while they are a terrific way to communicate, make sure not to use your keypad as an excuse to avoid personal contact!


Join The Conversation
onesong onesong 10 years
I completely agree, rubialala. It's so annoying when people use abbreviations in professional correspondence - it's just not that hard to type "your" or "you're" rather than "ur." It's NOT IM. Make the effort.
DeaconP DeaconP 10 years
I hate all caps too - i'm always thinking 'why are you yelling at me??' I also appreciate that you check spelling - people always spell my name wrong
cubadog cubadog 10 years
Do not use all caps. Huge pet peeve of mine!
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 10 years
I always triple check to make sure I've spelled someone's name correctly in an email ... it's so important as it's the first thing the person sees, aside from the subject heading. I've made a couple mistakes in the past and it's been pretty embarrassing.
rubialala rubialala 10 years
It is totally a pet peeve of mine when people in the workplace don't e-mail professionally. I do not accept abbreviations (i.e., ur, 2day, etc.) or incorrect spelling as appropriate workplace e-mail etiquette.
bookgirl bookgirl 10 years
I can't count how many times my best friend and I have gotten mad about something the other wrote in an email. It is usually very hard to convey sarcasm, even with someone you've known for years.
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