Email etiquette - the implied rules of good behaviour

Published 14/04/2005 10:46   |    Updated 04/02/2009 11:58
What guidelines should I follow for good email etiquette?

Like telephone conversations and face-to-face communication, email communication has certain implied rules of behavior. These rules are referred to as email etiquette or netiquette (a combination of "Internet" and "etiquette"). For effective communication, follow these guidelines:

  • Be careful with humor and emotion. Email does not convey emotion well, so the recipient might not understand your intended tone. Sarcastic humor is particularly risky because the recipient might interpret it literally and take offense. To convey emotion, consider using emoticons (see "Using emoticons" in this article).

  • Think before you send. Writing and sending an email message is fast and easy—sometimes too easy. Make sure you've thought out your message first, and avoid writing when you're angry. Once you send the message, you can't get it back.

  • Use a clear and concise subject line. Summarize the contents of the message in a few words. People who receive a large amount of email can use the subject to prioritize the message.

  • Keep messages short. Although an email message can be of any length, email is designed for quick communication. Many people don't have the time or patience to read more than a few paragraphs.

  • Avoid using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Many people perceive sentences written in all uppercase letters as "yelling" and find it annoying or offensive.

  • Be careful with sensitive or confidential information. Any recipient can forward your message to others—either intentionally or accidentally.

Additionally, in formal or business communication, avoid spelling and grammatical errors. Sloppy email conveys an unprofessional image. Proofread your messages before you send them, and if your email program has a spelling checker, use it.


Please tell us how we can make this answer more useful.